TOP 10 Shoe Collaborations of 2021

It’s safe to say there was no shortage of amazing sneaker collaborations in 2021.

Throughout the year, leading brands such as Nike, New Balance, and others tapped the hottest designers and retailers including A Ma Maniere, Joe Freshgoods and Salehe Bembury to reimagine their classic silhouettes. Below, in no order, are 10 of the best sneaker collaborations and collaborators of 2021.

1. A Ma Maniere x Jordan Brand

Another banner of James Whitner’s The Whitaker Group, A Ma Maniere, was behind the year’s most beloved collab: a new-look iteration of the Air Jordan 3. The collaboration, which arrived in March, is a high-end take on the iconic basketball shoe created as a tribute to the strength and resilience of Black women.

2. Joe Freshgoods x New Balance

Joe Freshgoods, one of the best storytellers in footwear, delivered yet another hit with New Balance in September. For his latest effort, the “Outside Clothes” 990v3, he told a story of the impact being outside has had on his creative process.

3. Aleali May x Jordan Brand

Aleali May, the first woman with a Jordan Brand women’s footwear and apparel collaboration, delivered a new collection in April, inspired by her time on the Inglewood High School drill team in California. The range was highlighted by a new-look Air Jordan 1 Zoom Comfort. May would deliver an equally compelling iteration of the Air Jordan 14 in August, dressed in a light sand hue with marbled jade green throughout.

4. Social Status x Nike

The Whitaker Group was behind some of the year’s most impactful collaborations, including the Social Status x “Free Lunch” Nike Dunks, consisting of two styles that released in September. The looks were inspired by the impact of summertime free lunch programs in underserved communities, and were delivered in “Chocolate Milk” and “Strawberry Milk” colorways.

5. Kith for Nike Air Force 1

Ronnie Fieg opened Kith locations in Paris and Hawaii this year to much fanfare, and with each release came a special-edition Nike Air Force 1 inspired by the area. The Paris- and Hawaii-themed looks were released exclusively at each new location in February and August, respectively.

6. Salehe Bembury x New Balance

Salehe Bembury, FN’s Designer of the Year in 2020, delivered hit after hit yet again in 2021, including a pair of looks with New Balance. In June, Bembury and New Balance delivered the “Water Be the Guide” 2002R, which inspired by the designer’s trip to Havasu Falls, located in the Grand Canyon in Arizona. This month, the two teamed up for two colorways of the 574 “Yurt,” highlighted by an oversized midsole and a whistle on the heel.

7. Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance

Aimé Leon Dore founder Teddy Santis, who will assume the creative director role at New Balance Made in USA next year, helped make the brand’s 550 shoe one of the year’s most sought after. Although New Balance’s inline versions were popular, it was Aimé’s collaborations delivered with subtle hits of subdued colors that stood out the most.

8. Billie Eilish x Jordan Brand

Although Jordan Brand has worked with a who’s who of celebrity collaborators, the namesake company of NBA icon Michael Jordan tapped a new pop megastar face in September for its next project: Billie Eilish. The artist opted to rework the Air Jordan 1 KO, dressing it in the bold volt hue, and delivered the Air Jordan 15 in light brown.

9. Patta x Nike

One of the year’s most sought-after collabs came from Patta and Nike on the iconic Air Max 1 silhouette. First, the two dropped the “Monarch” iteration of the shoe this month, complete with a new wave pattern on the mudguard. The two followed with the “Noise Aqua” colorway of the shoe, also arriving this month.

10. Union x Jordan Brand

Having already delivered several celebrated collabs with Jordan Brand, Union once again gave the label’s Air Jordan 4 a new look to much fanfare. In June, a pair of outdoor-inspired Union x Air Jordan 4s dropped, dubbed “Taupe Haze” and “Desert Moss,” which featured a look reminiscent of the stylish mountain gear worn throughout the 1980s and early ’90s.

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