It was supposed to be great. We were supposed to be riding hoverboards and gallivanting in our power-lacing sneakers.
In reality, 2015 looked far different than it was depicted in the movies thirty years ago, which might come as a letdown to some people. And I’m going to take a contrarian viewpoint from those of my fellow sneaker historians, but I think 2015 was a disappointing year in sneakers as well. No, not because of the lack of futuristic footwear technology (not entirely anyway, but I’ll get to that). The year 2015 did have the potential to be one of the best years sneakers had ever seen, but I think it came up short in a lot of ways.
Sure, we had the return of some well-liked Air Jordan models that hadn’t previously seen a retro release, the Swoosh gave us a handful of fairly true-to-form Air Max models, and casual runners had another big year fueled in no small part by the release of a highly-anticipated collaboration between adidas and Kanye West. But those were almost lost in the shuffle when considering the sheer volume of sneakers and colorways and stories and “special editions” the brands threw at us this year, most of which faded from memory faster than they appeared.
In fact, I’m worried the sneaker market is becoming saturated with a general offering of haphazardly curated and uninspired designs and collections by many major brands with virtually no accountability because consumers are still scooping up everything in sight. I’m also worried about signature sneakers, because as I’ll discuss shortly, I don’t think they are headed in the right direction. And I’m worried about the state of collaborations, because there are so many so widely available that very few of them stand out or truly resonate with the consumer.
All that said, there are positives in this equation. I did manage to find ten sneakers good enough to mention in my list and I’m looking forward to what 2016 has to offer. We’ll get a 30th Air Jordan signature sneaker as well as perhaps some special treatment for Nike’s longtime signature basketball lines: LeBron, as his new contract essentially suggests that his sneakers could follow a Jordan-esque trajectory, and Kobe, as he steps away from the game, certainly has opportunities for festivities associated with his signature line.
Additionally, James Harden will get a signature sneaker from adidas, who is looking to jumpstart their basketball sneaker selection. Quite a few running and training classics are slated to be resurrected, and it’s an Olympic year, so expect something big out of Nike and hopefully some other brands as we approach the summer. That’s it for my year-in-review summary. I’d love to discuss any of these issues with you in the Comments section or through social media @thetravpete. Let’s get to the list.