In a year where almost nothing felt familiar, the sneakers we loved provided some sort of stability. They were disrupted at times, sure, with release dates and the channels they released through shuffled around, but there was something comfortably predictable about the shoes that defined 2020.
There was the renewal of Virgil Abloh's design strategy, an overdue reboot that began with an underappreciated silhouette. There was the revival of Nike SB and Dunks in general, a wave you could see coming and didn't mind washing over you, even if a good number of those pairs were impossible to get. There were totally new and foreign shoes—Kanye West's best Yeezys this year don't even feel native to this universe, let alone current footwear trends—but the most sought-after ones were largely iterations of existing icons and interests. They were exciting, pushing the sneakers we knew to strange new places, but these were still the shoes we knew. In a year totally deficient in certainty of any sort, the familiarity felt just fine. These are the best sneakers of 2020. —Brendan Dunne