Sneaker hype knows no pause. While you were taking a break over the holidays, maybe spending some socially distanced time with your loved ones, the long buildup to some of 2021's biggest footwear releases was steadily mounting. Now that the reflecting upon last year is complete, it's time to take a look ahead at 2021’s most anticipated sneaker releases. Note that this forecast of things to come is based mostly on shoes and release dates that aren't yet confirmed by brands, so these are subject to change. A leak around an upcoming collaboration or projected drop day could end up being off—let's not forget how many of 2020's expected releases were thrown off by production issues. Without further ado, these are the sneakers that will dominate the months ahead.
Trophy Room x Air Jordan 1 High
Adidas Yeezy 451
Air Jordan 1 High '85 'Neutral Grey'
Supreme x Nike SB Dunk Low
Expected Release Date: Spring 2021
Throw a Supreme logo on a Nike and it will sell. That's been the case for years, but the partnership has lost its luster recently, with highly anticipated sneakers few and far between. The streetwear brand's upcoming project on the Nike SB Dunk Low, which revisits its SB Dunk High collaboration from 2003, has been turning heads on the internet since it was leaked a few months ago. The first collaboration featured three colorways—red, light blue, and orange—and this year's collaboration comes in four: black, green, brick red, and royal blue. This isn't the first time that Supreme has reworked its Dunk collaborations; the first Supreme x Nike SB Dunk from 2002, which was inspired by the Air Jordan 3, was rehashed in 2012. Supreme also released a trio of SB Dunks in 2019. A date on the upcoming Dunks hasn't been confirmed, but the current wave of SB hype is running strong. It's likely that these shoes will rank highly as fan favorites and in the resale market. — Matt Welty
Clot x Nike Air Max 1
Nike Lebron 8 'South Beach'
Air Jordan 5 Retro 'Raging Bull'
Tom Sachs x Nike Mars Yard 2.5
Expected Release Date: Spring/Summer 2021
The good news about the next Tom Sachs NikeCraft Mars Yard sneaker is that you won't have to wait in long lines or enter a million raffles to try to get a pair. The bad news is that you have to beg the artist for them on social media, and even if you're selected to receive a pair of the shoes, you won't get to keep them. Sachs announced at the end of last year that the upcoming Mars Yard 2.5 shoe would be available first via a wear-test program that asks applicants to make their pitch in a one-minute-long Instagram video. Those who are granted the shoes for this process are essentially testing them out and will have to return them after the testing period. It's a smart rollout for the shoes given how utilitarian Tom Sachs has always been about his sneakers, but it doesn't mean getting them will be any easier. This next iteration of the hyped space-age footwear looks similar to previous versions, this time featuring a reinforced toe cap and metal eyelets. It's not entirely clear when the sneakers will be given out, but rumors have pointed to a late spring/early summer arrival. —Brendan Dunne
Fragment x Sacai x Nike LDWaffle
Expected Release Date: Spring/Summer 2021
One of the most popular collabs in recent memory is Sacai's Nike LDWaffle design that first hit stores in 2019. In fact, it was so big that Chitose Abe was tapped to make more layered designs the following year—four colorways of the VaporWaffle to be exact. Now, quite frankly rather randomly, it looks like the LDWaffle will be making a comeback in 2021 with the help of the godfather of Japanese streetwear, Hiroshi Fujiwara. As he has done with icons like the Air Jordan 1 and obscure offerings like the Sock Dart in years past, Fujiwara will be stamping Fragment's signature lightning bolts onto Abe's creation. While details remain scarce at the moment, the navy blue and white pair is currently rumored for a Spring/Summer 2021 release. Sometimes Fujiwara's creations fly under the radar. Don't expect a Fragment x Sacai sneaker to be one of the ones that does. — Mike DeStefano