As the end of the year approaches, it’s only natural that one looks back at what’s happened in the previous 12 months to reflect on the good and the bad. Normally, you’d also look forward, though it’s understandable if the past two years have burned you and there is hesitation to get excited about another year (anyone else seen the meme about no one posting that 2022 is going to be their year?).

Every year at Highsnobiety, we like to end the year with some thoughts on what we’d like to leave in the past or see changed in the coming 12 months. However, that can sometimes skew a little negative. So, this year, we want to look ahead at what we’re excited to see happen in sneaker culture in the ensuing months.

While some releases have already been teased, most are still heavily under wraps, which is why we’re focusing on bigger trends and themes we’d like to see in 2022.

Three Things We’re Looking Forward to in 2022

Teddy Santis to take over at New Balance Made in USA

Ever since Teddy Santis was announced as the new creative director of New Balance’s Made in USA division, we’ve been impatiently awaiting the beginning of his tenure at the brand. Following the success Kiko Kostadinov has found in reimagining ASICS’ in-house line of sneakers, as well as Kerby Jean-Raymond’s exciting early days at Reebok, the “in-sourced collab” is an interesting avenue that sportswear brands are increasingly open to pursuing.

Aimè Leon Dore has established itself as one of New Balance’s best collaborative partners, so there’s no reason to doubt that Santis will bring the same energy and aesthetic to Made in USA. The New Balance sub-brand has made a name for itself thanks to its uncompromising focus on quality. Sprinkle in a little Teddy Santis-led colorways, and 2022 might be the year when general release sneakers eclipse collaborations.

A sneaker to replace the Nike Dunk

My Nike Dunk fatigue has been well-documented over the past 12 months. I thoroughly enjoyed 2020’s rise of the Dunk, but quickly got tired of seeing multiple new colorways of the shoe when the Swoosh went mass-market in early 2021. There have been some good (even great) colorways this year, don’t get me wrong. However, it’s time for the community to obsess over a new “it sneaker.”

2022 brings with it several very exciting possibilities. The Nike Air Jordan 2 is celebrating its 35th anniversary, which was kick-started by the Off-White™ collaboration just recently. The AJ2 is not the most popular retro Jordan, which means it won’t be easy to eclipse the Dunk (which already had numerous golden eras before the latest one), but it has historical relevance and there are some big collaborations coming. Another option is the Nike Air Max 1, which will also celebrate its 35th anniversary, has a cult following in Europe, and has been collaborated on already by CLOT and Patta.

Ideally, we’d see a totally new silhouette dominate the headlines — something from YEEZY or another brand with futuristic designs. The great thing is, no one really knows what will resonate best with the consumers. Brands and the media can try to prop up what they think will do well, but at the end of the day the consumers decide what is cool and what’s not.

More Purpose-Driven sneaker releases

If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that there is still a lot of evil in the world. Whether it be gender or racial inequality or the industry’s environmental impact and the dangers of greenwashing, the past 24 months have been a wake-up call to many.

One positive that was born out of the past two years, is that certain members of the industry have placed a bigger emphasis on purpose-driven product releases. Patta, James Whitner’s The Whitaker Group, and Denim Tears are just a few examples of creatives and brands putting their collective voice behind important issues and trying to drive awareness and, ultimately, change through product.

Purpose-driven collections are nothing new, and the aforementioned parties have all been involved in trying to make a change through their brands long before the social justice reckoning of 2020. But because products, especially sneakers, have a long lead time, 2022 figures to feature even more purpose-led releases than the past two years have. A lot of products or projects started in response to the social justice reckoning of 2022 will only now be ready to release to the public.  The foundation that has been laid since 2020 will hopefully be built on massively in 2022.

Releases such as Denim Tears’ ASICS GEL-MC Plus, Social Status’ Nike Dunk, Patta’s Reebok Classic, or A Ma Maniere’s Air Jordan 1 have been some of my favourite releases of that ilk. Here’s to hoping conscious product continues to push for change in 2022.

To stay updated on everything happening in the sneaker world, check out the best sneakers to add to your rotation this week, follow @highsnobietysneakers on Instagram, and sign up to our newsletter for early access to the best drops sent straight to your inbox.

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