Putting together this list last year was incredibly difficult in comparison to this year for one reason. The whole world was in a lockdown and we didn’t see anyone really wear their sneakers outside. That’s one of the biggest factors in what the best sneakers of any given year are: Are people actually wearing them and do they look cool when they do so? As things start to open up in 2021, we’re able to see people put their footwear to use and it makes it a little more clear cut as to which sneakers matter. 

With that said, it was challenging this year for another reason: Brands are producing a lot of the same silhouettes in endless colorways, mainly the Dunk and Air Jordan 1. Some are better than others, but countless pairs blend together in the collective memory of the past six months. There were also a handful of other shoes that garnered hype before their release, then ended up falling flat once they made their way out to the public and marinated for a bit.

There have been a fair share of good sneakers this year, too. Solid Air Jordan collaborations, Nike SB Dunks that reference the sub-brand’s history, brand-new Yeezy sneakers, and more. We’re only at the halfway point, so we had to take into consideration if these sneakers will have a lasting impact the remainder of the year. Maybe, maybe not, but here are the best sneakers of 2021 (so far).