Are we really about to make a set of calls around what we expect will be the biggest stories in sneakers after suffering through one of the most unexpected and unprecedented years on record? Absolutely. See, as much as 2020 was marked by uncertainty in the world at large, many parts of the sneaker industry were unaffected. Calendars shifted and some releases were canceled, but there are still shoes to hype up, athletes to anoint as next up, and big deals in the works that will shape sportswear as we know it.

From this early vantage point, these look to be the biggest sneaker stories of 2021. This is less about individual releases—we already did a list like that—and more about bigger movements in the industry. We have no crystal ball to peer into here, just instincts around industry plotlines that have surfaced but not yet fully played out, and maybe a few sources and details that can't be published at this juncture. Read on to find out where we're going in the next 12 months.