The Biggest Sneaker Stories of 2021 (So Far)
If we’re going on our sneaker trend predictions for 2021, then the year has panned out somewhat as we anticipated. There’s been no shortage of incredible collaborations and quality GR drops along the way, as the Dunk’s dominance diminishes slightly and ‘green’ becomes the brands’ concept of choice. However, one thing we did not expect was this much controversy.
So far, when it comes to sneakers, 2021 has been a year full of saucy scandals and courtroom commotion. Here’s a recap of what’s dominated the headlines over the past six months.
Say It Ain’t So, Joe!
One of the year’s first bombshells detonated in March, with the resignation of Nike’s vice president and general manager of North America, Ann Hebert, following reports, linking her to her son’s reseller business.
It was revealed that the now-infamous Joe Hebert had used his mother’s credit card to purchase $132,000 worth of sneakers for West Coast Streetwear, his reseller business. Perhaps the sauciest part of the scandal, however, was the connection to multiple Nike Air Mags being ‘found’ in an abandoned storage unit back in early 2020. No surprises as to who made the ‘chance’ discovery? You guessed it: Joe. To this day, Joe insists he had never received inside information from his mother while she was at Nike.
Is he telling the truth? We’ll leave that one up to you...
The Elephant in the Trophy Room
Clearly, reselling and backdooring really gets the people goin’, and things reached a palpable tipping point in 2021. Just days before Ann Hebert’s resignation, the release of the highly sought-after Trophy Room x Air Jordan 1 was marred with controversy.
Owner – and son of the GOAT – Marcus Jordan had originally expressed displeasure at pairs of the hyped collaboration leaking prior to the drop date, tracing things back to leaks at a Nike distribution centre. However, it all may have been smoke and mirrors, after accusations came through suggesting Marcus had made big bucks from backdooring pairs to resellers and friends. As you’d expect, people were pretty triggered.
Since then, the collaboration has become a symbol of the sleazy handling of hyped sneakers, and one that continues to be obnoxiously paraded all over social feeds.
A saga which started in late 2020 and continued into the early months of the new year, Warren Lotas vs Nike was one of the more intriguing sneaker legal battles we’ve seen in recent years.
The LA-based creative’s eponymous brand landed in hot water, thanks to his self-proclaimed ‘reinterpretations’ of iconic Nike SB Dunks, which featured a Jason Voorhees-esque hockey mask on the sacred Swoosh. Nike filed a case against Lotas through the US District Court for the Central District of California regarding his infringement of protected Nike intellectual property. The TLDR? Nike sued Lotas for making fake sneakers.
After months of back and forth, Nike’s trademark infringement lawsuit finally came to an end, with both parties reaching a confidential settlement agreement. The legalities may have ended, but the lines between customs and ‘fakes’ remain cloudy.
‘I Couldn’t Pick This Many Bad Colorways If I Tried’
Ever since ‘The Ten’, we’ve become accustomed to multi-shoe collaborations between Virgil Abloh’s Off-White label and Nike. That said, we don’t think anyone expected the designer to ever dial things right up to 50.
After plenty of speculation, a ginormous Nike Dunk Low smorgasbord was finally unveiled as part of the ‘Dear Summer’ collection. Opinions on the collaboration have been divided, and even some of Virgil’s own comments haven’t exactly aged well, but it’s safe to say the sneakersphere has never seen anything like it.
Blood is the New Drip
It’ll definitely take some beating as the ‘most hated’ sneaker of 2021, but Lil Nas X certainly got blood boiling with his Air Max 97 ‘Satan’ collaboration alongside Brooklyn-based MSCHF, which was, of course, filled with literal human blood.
The sneaker produced some of the most outrageous sneaker commentary of all time, with Nike lawyering-up to put a halt on the release before things got too out of hand. Nevertheless, the limited 666 units sold-out instantly, with the $1018 price tag doing little to exorcise the Satanist sneaker lovers – and resellers. Pairs later began appearing on the resale market for double the price at $2000, and we can’t say we’re too surprised!
As one SF staffer puts it, blood is indeed the new drip.