Sam Murphy

15 Best Sneakers of 2020 | Man of Many

Thirty-five years after Nike first introduced this basketball shoe, it’s enjoyed arguably its biggest year ever. Footwear News awarded it ‘Shoe of the Year’, capping off an extraordinary year for the silhouette. Every colourway and collaboration involving the Dunk sold out in 2020 as demand only grew stronger while resale prices skyrocketed.

1. Nike Dunk Low

New Balance was perceived to be falling behind the big sneaker brands in previous years but it made a stunning comeback this year. The 327 had a lot do to with that. Inspired by 70s heritage, the shoe brings the past into the future pairing classic stylings with modern touches like an enlarged logo.

2. New Balance 327

Nearly every Nike-involved collaboration nabbed headlines this year but the Stussy teaming, in particular, broke the internet. Together, they relaunched the Spiridon Cage 2 with two contrasting colourways of the futuristic silhouette. The first, dealt with metallics with glossy silver overlays and industrial mesh while the second gave us a beige take with hemp overlays. Nike followed it up by releasing its own colourways of the Spiridon Cage 2, bringing the shoe into regular rotation.

3. Nike x Stussy Spiridon Cage 2

Before Kim Jones made the move to Fendi, he teamed with Jordan brand for a sleek take on the Air Jordan 1 Retro High. It’s one of the most iconic silhouettes in sneaker history and requires a certain level of finesse to really bring something special to it. The Dior take did exactly that, delivering suave grey tones with Dior branding on the Swoosh. It looked expensive and it was. If you were to cop now you’d be looking at a resale price of around $7,000. Worth it to score one of 2020’s best sneakers.

4. Dior x Air Jordan 1 Retro High Sneaker

New Balance’s great year continued with a handful of carefully curated collaborations. New York-born brand Aime Leon Dore is a perfect fit for New Balance thanks to their vintage and stylish takes on streetwear culture. They brought exactly that to their 550 colourways, delivering four simple yet effective takes. The P550 has actually remained mostly untouched since its debut in 1989 and it took Aime Leon Dore founder Teddy Santis a while to uncover all the details about the shoe. It was worth the work as he delivered one of this year’s most classic shoes.

5. New Balance x Aime Leon Dore P550 Sneaker

Tyler The Creator’s GOLF LE FLEUR continued its successful relationship with Converse in 2020 delivering an entirely new silhouette. GOLF has often delivered its own rendition of classic Converse silhouette but with the Gianno, it delivered a fresh shoe to add to the Converse stable. Inspired by the ‘90s and Tyler’s own love of hiking and the great outdoors, the Gianno is a high-platformed shoe dealing mostly in suede. Coming in Lavendar and Evergreen, it’s one of the flashiest shoes that was delivered this year.

6. Converse x GOLF LE FLEUR Gianno

It’s hard to decipher exactly what the Yeezy Foam RNNR is. Is it a sneaker? A slipper? An updated Croc? Whatever it is, it was one of the most innovative takes on footwear seen this year. It opened itself up to plenty of memes with Kanye West copping plenty of heat for the brand new Yeezy silhouette but it was ultimately a daring exploration. Comprised of just one single piece of material, it’s a bold vision for the future.

7. adidas Yeezy Foam RNNR

Chicago designer Joe Freshgoods kept it pushing this year with a number of high-profile collaborations. None caught more attention than his take on the New Balance 992. Released around Valentine’s Day he worked with a red and pink colour palette of suedes and mesh. On the tongue, he added ‘DBM’, a nod to his ‘Don’t Be Mad’ imprint. A pop of colour definitely didn’t go astray this year and Joe Freshgoods’ take on the 992 is undoubtedly one of the best sneaker collabs of 2020.

8. Joe Freshgoods x New Balance 992

Another New Balance collaboration that had sneakerheads in a frenzy this year. Versace’s Bembury took on the newly relaunched 2002 silhouette giving it a hike-ready twist featuring rough suede and a two-tone rubber outsole. It’s a bold shoe with the perfect mix of materials.

9. Salehe Bembury x New Balance 2002

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Gel-Lyte III, Kith’s Ronnie Fieg took on the ambitious task of creating 30 different colourways. They were all launched together, collectively delivering a sea of pastels and muted tones. Simple but so effective in every style.

10. ASICS x Kith Gel-Lyte III

Jordan purists were never going to like J Balvin’s colourful take on the iconic silhouette but there’s something liberating about his pair. The Latin superstar shook up the shoe by striking it with a rainbow colourway and adding bold, jagged cuts. It’s chaotic and exciting.

11. Air Jordan 1 x J Balvin

It’s one thing to deliver innovation to sneaker aesthetics but it’s another to take on environmental sustainability. Nike raised the bar with the Nike Space Hippie series delivering its lowest carbon footprint shoes ever. They managed to do so without sacrificing style, attracting the usual hypebeast crowd.

12. Nike Space Hippie

It felt like there was a new Yeezy drop every week this year. While most delivered new colourways of existing silhouettes, the QNTM was a brand new release. Debuting during the 2020 All-Star Weekend, this was Yeezy’s first strike at the basketball market. Kanye gave them away for free in Chicago before releasing them to the public.

13. adidas Yeezy QNTM

The Dunk High has had a strong finish to the year picking up the momentum that the Dunk Low started. Tokyo streetwear label AMBUSH finished off the year strong with their take on the Dunk High. The black-and-white colourway looks classic but distorts the original with small details like an extended swoosh. It’s just the right amount of editing.

14. AMBUSH x Nike Dunk High

In October, Virgil Abloh added another colourway to his industrial take on the classic Jordan 5. It was debuted on the runway in Paris and at the All-Star Weekend in Chicago showing its versatility as a high-fashion and court-ready shoe. Another slam dunk for Off-White and Nike.

15. Air Jordan 5 x Off-White

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