Sneaker Storylines for 2022
Shaping up to be a year to remember
As the clock is close to striking midnight on 2021, there is a big year on the horizon in 2022 from brands and major players in the sneaker industry. Everything from anniversaries to anticipated and rumored collaborations, and surely surprises along the way. We'll chronicle what you can expect and look forward to in the new year from multiple angles.
Into the Metaverse
The next frontier is ahead of us with Web 3.0, and with that comes the expansion and involvement of some heavy hitters in the Metaverse. adidas and Nike have both thrown their respective hats into the ring – adidas partnering with the creators of the Bored Ape Yacht Club; a now famous and extremely sought after NFT collective and Nike having acquired RTFKT.
"The opportunity with the Metaverse is it creates infinite possibilities for us to connect, create and belong. And it's especially that belonging part that we focused on initially." – Tareq Nazlawy – Senior Director Digital, adidas "Our plan is to invest in the RTFKT brand, serve and grow their innovative and creative community and extend Nike’s digital footprint and capabilities." – John Donahoe, President and CEO of Nike
With both brands entering the Metaverse, there is another layer of validity added, but also comes a larger audience and following which will make NFTs and all the offerings of Web3 convoluted. But for sneakerheads who are into NFTs and abreast to that world, being able to have collectibles directly from your favorite brand can open another world of possibilities.
Nike Air Force 1 Turns 40
"It was my first basketball shoe." – Bruce Kilgore
That's one hell of an introduction. Bruce Kilgore's first basketball design is perhaps his most iconic and it celebrates a major milestone in 2022. The beloved Air Force 1 will turn 40. Being the standard when it comes to versatility for the Swoosh, the once basketball silhouette turned sportswear staple is rumored to be retiring the '07 mold we're accustomed to seeing. And from that will be a new mold for the AF1; whether that is something completely new or a remastered iteration with tooling mirroring the 1982 original iteration, we'll see but expect big things from the AF1. You can probably bank on OG colorways, fan favorites and collaborations in the next 12 months.
Nike Air Max 1 & 97 Anniversaries
Another iconic Nike silhouette will be celebrating a major milestone in 2022. Tinker Hatfield's Air Max 1 will turn 35. Originally releasing 1987, the runner has reached legendary status and was the genesis of an entire line of Nike products that has defined the brand for decades. In 2017 when Nike celebrated the 30th anniversary of the silhouette, we were gifted the re-release of the OG Red and OG Blue colorways, with its original packaging and a couple restocks; additionally the "Anniversary" releases have continued over the five years between anniversaries in various color pallets.
Might we be treated to another re-release of the OG duo, might the silhouette be remastered, what collaborations will we see? Talk of an uptick in releases could begin to put the AM1 on par with other silhouettes we see released regularly. Additionally, the Air Max 97 turns 25 and we already know that the 'Silver Bullet' and 'Metallic Gold' color schemes will return as they did in 2017 for the 20th anniversary. But there is still more to uncover on just what will make this anniversary special.
But one thing we can bet on is that Air Max Day 2022 in March will be one to remember.
Kobe Bryant adidas Retro Releases
January will mark two years since the tragic and sudden passing of Kobe Bryant and in the time since his estate led by his wife, Vanessa chose not to renew a contract with Nike. Months have passed without a single. Kobe signature sneaker release, undoubtedly leaving many fans and collectors heartbroken at the resolution. But while the Bryant estate and Nike are not currently aligned; the door has been opened for adidas to bring back Kobe's Three Stripes signatures and endorsed silhouettes; the first being the return of the 'Slam Dunk Contest' Crazy 97 (EQT Elevation) in February for All-Star Weekend. Murmurs of Kobe's adidas signatures such as the KB8 and The Kobe 1 have made the rumor mill, thus bringing fans a feeling of yesteryear that has been two decades in the making and providing solace amongst the saddening circumstances.
The LeBron 20
LeBron James will join only Michael Jordan with 20 signature models to his name. Which is an accomplishment that we may only see again once or twice more when you stop to think about it. As the LeBron XIX is currently in its cycle, the emphasis and celebration that will be the LeBron 20 is a punctuation point on a Hall-of-Fame career and sneaker lineage. With the opening of the LeBron James Innovation Center on the Nike World Headquarters campus in Beaverton, the LeBron 20 will undoubtedly come out of the innovative kitchen housed within the building. Additionally, with the LeBron x Nike x Florida A&M University (FAMU) partnership, we could see the unveil of the next signature in Florida.
The possibilities are endless but with the tech inserted into the LeBron signature line over the years, the 20 will have to deliver in that department.
Fear of God x adidas
It's been a little over a year since Jerry Lorenzo and his Fear of God imprint teamed with adidas. And recently Lorenzo was spoted at the arena formerly known as Staples Center in a sample print of an adidas x FOG hoodie; the first-ever spotting of such since the partnership was announced in December 2020. Lorenzo's position includes shaping the creative and business strategy for adidas Basketball and in that mission, Lorenzo brought in friend and former Jordan Brand Senior Global Design Director, Jason Mayden as Fear of God President. As we inch closer to the release, we can expect to begin to see pieces that have been in the works all of 2021 in 2022.
What does Salehe Bembury do for an encore?
Salehe Bembury had himself quite a 2021, from his project with New Balance to his collaboration with Crocs which saw the beloved clog have its mold altered for the first time in the brand's history. With two separate projects landing on our Top Sneakers of 2021 list, Bembury tends to revolve around various brands, always "Open To Work" as his LinkedIn profile suggests – and arguably no one can match his work ethic and his hustle. So what will he do for an encore? Will it be a Crocs sequel ... or a third collaboration with New Balance, or might a new partner enter the arena? We'll have to wait and see.
With all these storylines in play for 2022, it will certainly be a 12 months to remember, as we begin our march through the next calendar year.