From Nike to New Balance – theses are the gems of the shoe world…
Once upon a time the humble sneaker was nothing more than a necessity, something we used to protect our feet from the elements.
Oh how times have changed.
Fast forward to today and the sneaker has become a commodity, a way of flexing one’s style and making bold statements. Our fashion choices are essentially an expression and extension of who we are as people, what we choose to wear on our feet has become part of that.
That means the sneaker market is not only bigger than ever before, it has become more valuable than anyone could have ever predicted. Collectors and resellers have driven the world of sneakers into a whole new realm of supply and demand, meaning rarer styles can now fetch a small fortune.
High-profile collaborations, super-limited releases and celebrity endorsements have turned what was once a pretty straightforward affair into this eccentric playground driven on by hype and a constant desire to stay at the forefront of what’s available on the market.
With all that going on, it’s almost impossible to keep up to date with which releases are the most sought after. Fear not though, we’ve pulled together a list of 2020’s most valuable and rarest sneaker releases so far.
Unsurprisingly, this year has been dominated by Nike and more specifically, the Jordan Brand. Already an iconic silhouette, Jordans have witnessed a colossal renewal in pop culture relevance thanks to the outstanding Netflix documentary The Last Dance.
However, it is not just the Bulls legend who created iconic kicks with Nike – a number of impressive collaborations, including Travis Scott and Ben & Jerry’s, have ensured that 2020 has well and truly been a year dominated by the legendary swoosh.
TRAVIS SCOTT NIKE AIR MAX 270 REACT
According to Nike, the Travis Scott Air Max 270 ‘Cactus Trails’ “channels how Travis escapes reality through his own imagination, into a world he and his fans get lost in.”
Combining a vintage and worn feel, with a golden midsole, the result is a trail-inspired take on one of the lesser utilised Nike models that we are huge fans of.
DIOR AIR JORDAN 1
Limited to just 8,500 pairs, each one individually numbered, not only is the collaboration between Jordan and fashion colossus Dior one of this year’s most coveted releases, it is one of the most talked about of all time.
There is something wonderfully understated about the design that features the ‘Air Dior’ emblem on the side – one of the many subtle stamps that ensured collectors shell out up to $10,000 to get their hands on a pair.
TRAVIS SCOTT X NIKE SB DUNK LOW
Another in the partnership between Nike and Travis Scott, this time falling into the brand’s skate range.
Featuring lashings of paisley and plaid flannel overlays, Scott firmly stamped his own style on another of Nike’s most beloved silhouettes, topped off with his Cactus Jack logo printed on the tongue.
OFF-WHITE X AIR JORDAN 5
Over the last couple of years pretty much everything Virgil Abloh has touched has turned to gold – so this was never going to be any different.
The second Jordan silhouette in Abloh’s collection, the design actually pays homage to the first Jordan shoe the designer ever owned, intertwining a retro look with the latest Nike technologies.
ADIDAS YEEZY BSKTBLL QUANTUM
Kanye’s brainchild has offered up some of the loudest, most opinion-dividing designs imaginable and his approach to creating a basketball sneaker followed that same trend.
Another bold design, the shoe features Adidas’ signature primeknit upper and despite being designed with hardwood court in mind, has predictably become more fashion-focused than performance-driven.
Nike SB Dunk Low Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Dunky
When Ben & Jerry’s partnered with Nike it was destined to be a popular drop. After the release was announced, the ice cream heroes wrote on their collaboration; “if it’s not fun, why do it?”
It is a sentiment that shines through in their take on the famous skate trainer, blue skies, green pastures and tie dye patterns come together to create one of the more bizarrely pleasant shoes on this list.
Jordan 4 Retro Off-White Sail
This proved to be one of the most anticipated releases of 2020, after Abloh debuted the design during his Figures Of Speech exhibition at MCA Chicago last year.
Featuring a cream colour palette and constructed with the most premium materials around, the Off-White rehash stays true to Tinker Hatfield’s original Jordan 4 design, adding a charmingly subtle “Air” stamp in Abloh’s now-iconic text style.
Tom Sachs x Nike Mars Yard 2.0
US abstract artist Tom Sachs dug into the Nike archives to revive this vintage silhouette with one thing in mind, making a shoe that was designed to be worn, not collected.
Those who were lucky enough to grab a pair received the following message on their box: “These shoes are only valid if worn, and worn to death by you. Posers need not apply.”
KITH x NIKE AIR FORCE 1 LOW JAPAN
Inspired by Japanese culture, this iteration of the Air Force 1 features well-measured flashes of red, inspired by the country’s flag.
Created to celebrate the grand opening of Kith Tokyo’s flagship store, the clean colour palette made the design an instant hit and another triumph in the Swoosh brand’s incredible year of big releases.
NEW BALANCE 992 JOE FRESHGOODS NO EMOTIONS ARE EMOTIONS
Released on Valentine’s Day, Chicago-based designer Joe Freshgoods created something spectacular in his collaboration with New Balance.
Fittingly, Joe penned a love letter to the fabled sports brand ahead of the drop ““We about to create history, we about to show people what we can do. Let’s have fun and re-write history baby. My sweet love, New Balance”.
It’s safe to say, he did just that, crafting another of this year’s most beloved styles.