2021 has been a year of serious hype in the world of footwear. This is partly down to the fact that for many months, we’ve had nothing to do except stare longingly at release announcements on Instagram. But it’s also because brands have gone all-out in designing interesting, new footwear, and bucking the norm when it comes to remixing classic models.

We’ve seen some unlikely collaborations and some no-holds-barred designs, such as the Salehe Bembury x New Balance 2002R' Water Be The Guide'. Elsewhere, we had Trophy Room and Nike connect on the most controversial Air Jordan 1 in years, while Virgil Abloh imparted his magical touch on the polarizing Nike Air Jordan 2.

Many feel that the problem with a year packed with high-profile releases like this one is that unless you get lucky in the raffles, know a guy, or are willing to drop four figures at resale, it’s a year filled with Ls for regular sneakerheads. We would argue otherwise. With a handful of ultra-hyped releases leaving no room in the limelight for anyone else, we’ve seen countless attention-worthy drops go almost unnoticed, sitting on shelves for months until people catch on.

The best thing is that this happens every year without fail — some designs live life under the radar. That is, until we team up with Stadium Goods to shine a light on the unsung heroes of the sneaker kingdom.

Shop the best underated releases of 2021 below.

Danielle Guizio x Reebok Club C

Club C

Club C

$199

Danielle Guizio x Reebok

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As we have already mentioned, the Reebok Club C is a certified classic — a sneaker on par with other certified hits like the Nike Air Force 1 and PUMA Suede. We've seen multiple iterations and remixes of the Club C come and go over the years. However, the collaborative drop with NYC designer Danielle Guizio will easily go down as one of our favorites. The Club C silhouette is slightly reworked and boasts a classy creamy, and chalk-white color. The use of color on Guizio's name is a nice touch.

Kiko Kostadinov x ASICS Gel-Quantum Levitrack

Gel-Quantum Levitrack

Gel-Quantum Levitrack

$300

Kiko Kostadinov x ASICS

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Kiko Kostadinov's creative stint at ASICS has churned out some of the most exciting sneaker designs in recent years. Today's Gel-Quantum Levitrack is a retro-futuristic shoe that wouldn't feel out of place on the next SpaceX trip to Mars. The shoe strays from its chunkier iterations and trades it in for a sleek upper filled with flowing lines and flashy neon accents. The sole is made up of massive cushioned slabs injected with more GEL than you’ll ever need. Mark our words; you'll be seeing more of these sneakers in the spring.

Rhuigi Villasenor x PUMA Suede

Suede

Suede

$120

Rhuigi Villasenor x PUMA

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RHUDE's founder and creative director, Rhuigi Villaseñor’s, recent collaboration with PUMA was a low-key gem that deserved more love. The PUMA Suede gets a premium facelift. Leather and suede come together across the upper of the shoe, while a faux crocodile leather tab can be found on the heel. It's an update that works, contributing to the PUMA Suede’s prestigious history rather than detracting from it.

Wales Bonner x adidas Samba

Samba

Samba

$200

Wales Bonner x adidas

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We have consistently enjoyed watching Grace Wales Bonner's collaborative run at adidas. Her nostalgic designs have helped fuel the Samba's current renaissance moment. These '70s-inspired are just an all-around winner, worth a look if you are a fan of the classic shoe.

Levi's x New Balance 990v3

990v3

990v3

$229

Levi's x New Balance

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You probably have a pair of suede 990 sneakers but do you have them in denim? As part of a collaboration with Levi's, New Balance dressed their beloved sneaker in a healthy dose of everyone's favorite sturdy cotton twill fabric. These feel appropriate for the times, especially if you are part of the group of people trying to bring Y2K fashion back.

Brain Dead x Reebok Zig Kinetica II

Zig Kinetica II

Zig Kinetica II

$155

Brain Dead x Reebok

Buy at END.

Brain Dead's psychedelic designs come to life on their collaborative sneaker with Reebok. Taking inspiration from Japanese Kaiju, the Zig Kinetica arrives complete with a wavy and futuristic upper, which is comfortably placed on top of a tie-dye-like sweeping midsole. For some reason, I feel these would be perfect for festival season.

Nike Go FlyEase

Go FlyEase

Go FlyEase

$230

Nike

Buy at StockX

This sneaker has gotten a lot of slack, and we really can't tell you why. Nike's FlyEase is a laceless shoe with a unique entry system designed for both kids and adults with disabilities. The running shoes "fold" over a wearer's foot with little to no assistance. The price of the sneaker is a little steep right now, however, we are sure that is going to come down as Nike continues to release new iterations of this design.

Nike Air Jordan 3 Retro 'Georgetown

Air Jordan 3 Retro 'Georgetown'

Air Jordan 3 Retro 'Georgetown'

$218

Nike

Buy at StockX

The Jordan 3 is one of those sneakers that you can consistently keep in your rotation. The Georgetown's black and blue colorway pays homage to the school's own Hoyas mascot. If you are on the hunt for a dark pair of sneakers for the Fall/Winter, look no further.

BAPE x Reebok Club C 85

Club C 85

Club C 85

$195

BAPE x Reebok

Buy at StockX

Ok, we do have another Club C on this list, but can you blame us? This Bape Reebok Club C flew under a lot of people's radar. The shoe is simple and subversive, giving the shoe just enough of a refresh to catch our eye.

BAPE x New Balance 2002R

2002R

2002R

$367

New Balance

Buy at StockX

Staying on the BAPE hype train, we have another underrated sneaker that deserves a little more recognition. If you are a fan of the Japanese label, you are going to love these collaborative 2002Rs. The sneaker features all of BAPE’s calling cards. Shark print? Check. Iconic camo. Done. BAPE branding for your friends to see? Easy.

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