adidas certainly earned their (three) stripes in 2021. The Herzogenaurach-based outfit boosted their superstar standing in the world of footwear by crafting futuristic, earth-conscious sneakers and tapping their deep reservoir of A-list collaborative partners to expand and enhance the adidas Originals line.
With so many options and so many initiatives, the Trefoil pumped out more than a few notable releases over the last 12 months. However, we've narrowed it down a touch to bring you the 10 best adidas releases of the year.
Bad Bunny x adidas Forum Buckle Low 'The First Cafe'Bad Bunny x adidas Forum Buckle Low 'The First Cafe'
One of Bad Bunny's personal mottos is 'Yo hago lo que me da la gana', which translates to 'I Do Whatever I Want' in Spanish. The reggaeton superstar is a certified enigma – and adidas matched his sui generis personality with his first-ever signature shoe, the Bad Bunny x adidas Forum Low Buckle 'The First Café'. Inspired by Bad Bunny's love of a morning cup of java, 'The First Café' served up piping hot brown shades with plenty of special embellishments like his 'El Ojo' graphic on the double-stacked tongue and a Spanish text hit that translates to 'I dress like this' or 'I dress this way' on the strap. Like the artist himself, 'The First Café' was bold and boisterous, and it served as a perfect launching ground for his 'Easter Egg', and 'Core Black' kicks as well.
Happy Gilmore x Extra Butter x adidas UltraBOOST 1.0 'Gold Jacket'Happy Gilmore x Extra Butter x adidas UltraBOOST 1.0 'Gold Jacket'
No sneaker brand does as many IP colabs as adidas. From James Bond to Dragon Ball Z, Game of Thrones and South Park it seems like there's a new one every month, and some get lost in the shuffle. However, the brand's effort with Happy Gilmore and Extra Butter was one of 2021's best releases – especially the UltraBOOST 'Gold Jacket', inspired by Happy's nemesis Shooter McGavin and his much-desired piece of championship attire. The shoe's outside made no overt references to its inspiration besides placing a graphic inspired by Shooter's signature two-finger point on its lateral mudguard and adding golf tee holders under its midfoot cage (the real graphic goodness was hidden on the insole), but the reception it received showed that if something's truly memorable its inspiration doesn't need to be overt. Having Christopher McDonald, the actor who played Shooter, make a hilarious appearance in the lookbook, didn't hurt either!
43einhalb x adidas ZX 10000 'Joint Path'43einhalb x adidas ZX 10000 'Joint Path'
Beloved German sneaker boutique 43einhalb celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2021, and the centrepiece of the festivities was a special ZX 10000 dubbed the 'Joint Path'. 43e believes that 'in the end, it's all about the friends who've joined your path', so their anniversary sneaker was a celebration of their strong community – a key piece of any successful sneaker boutique. It was richly detailed, boasted bright pops of colour and came packaged in one of the craziest seeding kits we've ever seen! If their 15th and 20th-anniversary colabs are even half as memorable as this one, they'll be in damn good shape for years to come.
C.P. Company x adidas Italia SPZLC.P. Company x adidas Italia SPZL
Forza Azzurri! The C.P. Company x adidas Italia SPZL was 2021's ultimate terrace sneaker. Nothing else comes close. How could it? Both C.P. Company and adidas are terrace culture staples, and with the former celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2021 the timing for a collaboration was as perfect as a beautifully-placed free kick finding the back of the net. An Italian flag-inspired colour scheme, premium materials and hidden details provided a synergetic salute to the two brands and their shared fanbases, making for a style that was just as much a cultural history lesson as it was a sneaker.
adidas Yeezy Knit Runner Boot 'Sulphur'adidas Yeezy Knit Runner Boot 'Sulphur'
Yeezy boots have evolved and changed a great deal since we first saw the 950 duckboot back in the Yeezy Season 1 fashion show. Their designs have become much more futuristic in the six years since then, and the Yeezy Knit Runner Boot 'Sulfur' is the most space-age style they've made yet! The Knit Runner Boot's fully waterproof combination of a Yeezy Knit Runner mould with a sharply-toothed sole and a quilted, Velcro-secured collar demands your attention – love 'em or hate 'em – much like Kanye West himself does. The Yeezy NSTLD Boot was another interesting style that West created in 2021, but the visceral reaction that the Knit Runner Boot produced makes it the top dog.
adidas Yeezy 450 'Cloud White'adidas Yeezy 450 'Cloud White'
A modern day masterpiece from the legendary Steven Smith, the Yeezy 450 is one of the adidas Yeezy line's most unique silhouettes in years. Debuting in an airy 'Cloud White' colourway, its combination of a minimal knit upper and maximalist EVA 'spikes' that almost touch the collar have garnered comparisons to everything from soup dumplings to spiky plants! A good shoe should garner strong opinions, and the Yeezy 450 certainly did that as one of the year's most-discussed Yeezy silhouettes.
Wales Bonner x adidas SambaWales Bonner x adidas Samba
'There's nothing as effortlessly stylish as a pair of Sambas,' @hidden.ny told us while discussing their favourite sneaker moment of 2021. 'The Wales Bonner colab is one of the best iterations ever made.' Grace Wales Bonner's luxurious take on the classic football shoe for SS21 didn't change anything that makes the Samba great – sleek shape, T-toe cap, instantly recognisable outsole – but it did elevate the timeless look with hand-stitched tongue detailing and a special hit of branding on the quarter panel, putting a personal touch on a classic without altering what made it great in the first place.
South Park x adidas Campus 80s 'Towelie'South Park x adidas Campus 80s 'Towelie'
The South Park x adidas Campus 80s 'Towlie' managed to achieve something largely thought to be impossible in 2021: making a weed-themed sneaker that was cool, not corny. It did this by taking its inspiration quite literally, offering a purple terry cloth upper that featured the character's eyes on the tongue. These eyes were the design's pièce de résistance, glowing bright red under direct sunlight for a nod to the perpetually stoned towel's love of imbibing illicit substances. This clever detail made the 'Towelie' a hit on TikTok, one of the many barometers of success in this current day and age!
Kerwin Frost x adidas Forum Hi 'Humanchives'Kerwin Frost x adidas Forum Hi 'Humanchives'
Kerwin Frost is the court jester of the sneaker world. His designs seem to be created with one goal in mind, making their wearer smile, and his Forum Hi 'Humanchives' certainly garnered a lot of grins this year. Frost has a deep respect for the classics – he told us that he 'wanted to keep the [Forum's] original soul but enhance its history' – so the 'Humanchives' combines a familiar white and blue colour scheme with piercing eyes, a bulbous nose and even a rubberised mouth on the toe bumper for a look that's somewhere between Jeremy Scott (one of Frost's heroes) and Mr. Potato Head. Safe to say there wasn't anything quite like it in 2021.
adidas UltraBOOST 'Made to Be Remade'adidas UltraBOOST 'Made to Be Remade'
Both the 'Towelie' and the 'Humanchives' may fall on the whimsical side of the spectrum, but adidas don't joke around when it comes to their sustainable footwear offerings. Recycled materials like PRIMEBLUE and 3D-printed details are two of the several ways the Three Stripes tries to put the earth first in its products, and the UltraBOOST 'Made to be Remade' takes that sustainable ethos to an entirely new level. 'Wear your shoes' is an old sneakerhead adage, but the 'Made To Be Remade' needs to be worn into the ground. Because it's free of harmful dyes or glues, you can send it back to adidas when it's well and truly cooked and they'll make it into something new. That's fully circular footwear, and a level of sustainability most other brands can only dream of.