Almost everything about sneakers was uncertain in 2021. Of course, the world as a whole is in an unpredictable place because of the coronavirus, the effects of which have affected all facets of the economy, including athletic shoes. Release dates were constantly changing, with brands suffering from factory closures in Asia. Other projects were pushed when high-profile collaborators were forced to step away from the hype they had built up for years. And some of the sneakers that came out appeared to only do so nominally, their launches corrupted by the dark forces of backdoor shopping and sneaker dealers.
All of these factors surrounding this year’s best shoes, along with their sheer aesthetic qualities, determine what ends up on this list and where. Otherwise, how do we arrive at the ranking? They strike a balance between the personal tastes of Complex’s sneaker editorial group and our beliefs about the biggest and best shoes for our audience. It’s supposed to be the average between these two groups, descriptive enough to consider what our readers really liked in 2021 but prescriptive enough to tell them when there are other sneakers they should have liked more. He considers when the sneakers came out, how they came out and what they added to previous versions of the same shoe. In this time of terrible uncertainty, there is one thing you can be sure of: these are the best sneakers of 2021.