There are few joys in life greater than having a new pair of shoes. But most of the sneakers we buy today are only “new” for how long they’ve been produced, not designed. The industry is full of retro products: Air Force 1, Air Jordan 1, Stan Smith, the list goes on. But there are also brand new designs made every year, like in the ’80s and’ 90s, when many of us fell in love with our now favorite sneakers. The Nike Air Max 1 was once a whole new sneaker, as were the Air Jordan 3 and even the Yeezy Boost 350. We interacted with these models differently when seeing them for the first time and had a different appreciation for them because of of that.
In 2021, there are a lot of new shoe designs, but the idea of non-retro sneakers is not as popular as it used to be. But that doesn’t mean that innovation and new designs don’t have to be rewarded. It’s what keeps it all going, like a Nike sneaker designed to help people with disabilities wear sneakers like everyone else; or a high-tech running shoe that helps runners run faster; or even a Yeezy lifestyle that has become the talk of the town, or at least the internet. These are Complex’s picks for the best new sneaker designs of 2021.