2022 has been a year of serious hype in the world of footwear. It feels like brands have gone further than ever when it comes to designing interesting, new footwear, and bucking the norm when it comes to remixing classic models. That means that there's a wealth of underrated sneakers flooding the market.

We’ve seen some unlikely collaborations and some no-holds-barred designs, such as the MSCHF x Jimmy Falon Gobstopper. Elsewhere, we had Wales Bonner continuing its wildly successful string of collaborations with adidas, while Virgil Abloh and Louis Vuitton imparted their magical touch on the Nike Air Force 1.

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 shine a light on the unsung heroes of the sneaker kingdom.

Shop the best underrated sneakers of 2022 below.

Nike Air Max 96 II Sneakers

Air Max 96 II Sneakers

Air Max 96 II Sneakers

$158

Nike

Buy at ssense

Okay, the Nike Air Max 96 has been around since 1996, but 2022 has seen the retro silhouette given much more attention from the Swoosh. The sneaker world spoke and Nike listened: the airtime given to retro silhouettes rather than the futuristic technical design during 2022 has been astounding and it seems that the big names are tuned in. That means more re-releases of underrated sneakers like the Nike Air Max 96 II incoming.

Gucci Run Sneakers

Run Sneakers

Run Sneakers

$890

Gucci

Buy at ssense

Gucci's collaboration with adidas stole the headlines this year and not without reason — it's a great project. But, with that said, while the world loses its mind over luxury Gazelles, you can save some cash and cop some underrated mainline Gucci sneakers like the Gucci Run. Released earlier this year, the lightweight running silhouette breaks the luxury mould, bypassing high-end leathers for technical mesh.

Salomon x Ciele Athletics Phantasm Trainers

Ciele Athletics Phantasm Trainers

Ciele Athletics Phantasm Trainers

$183

Salomon

Buy at Matchesfashion

It feels odd to say that any Salomon release is underrated at this point, with the brand still dominating general sneaker coverage. But here we are, saying that the Salomon x Ciele Athletics Phantasm is one of our most underrated sneakers of the year. For starters, the Phantasm is a super versatile silhouette that loses out to the fan-favorite XT-4 and XT-6. With the help of Ciele Athletics and some tasteful polka-dot detailing, the Phantasm is given a bit more pop.

New Balance 574 Legacy Sneakers

574 Legacy Sneakers

574 Legacy Sneakers

$115

New Balance

Buy at Matchesfashion

New Balance is another label that doesn't need to have its praises sung anymore in 2022. Everywhere you look, there's another great New Balance collaboration or Teddy Santis-designed mainline release. That said, with the bigger releases taking the spotlight, the quiet release of the 574 Legacy deserves a little more attention. The staple 574 is given a more high-end build with an ENCAP sole unit. Plus, we're loving this off-white rendition.

JW Anderson Bubble Sneakers

Bubble Sneakers

Bubble Sneakers

$487

JW Anderson

Buy at mytheresa

Taking inspiration from climbing shoes, JW Anderson's new-season Bubble Sneakers have really caught our attention. The smooth, wrap-around sole unit is closely followed by a suede mudguard, laying the foundations for a canvas upper complete with JW Anderson grid detailing throughout. While being an eye-catching new release, this white and gum pair doesn't scream for attention, allowing you freedom when it comes to styling.

adidas x Craig Green Squash Polta AKH Sneakers

Craig Green Squash Polta AKH Sneakers

Craig Green Squash Polta AKH Sneakers

$220

adidas

Buy at Slam Jam

adidas has been working with Craig Green for a long time now, and while Craig Green's runway shows play host to a range of weird and wonderful designs, the latest release is a whole lot more understated (and underrated). Semi-transparent uppers complement a clear sole unit to ensure that the Squash Polta AKH Sneakers go with everything.

adidas Originals Supernova Cushion 7 Sneakers

Supernova Cushion 7 Sneakers

Supernova Cushion 7 Sneakers

$125

adidas Originals

Buy at Slam Jam

In much the same fashion as the Air Max 96 that kicked off this roundup, the adidas Originals Supernova Cushion 7 saw a re-release this year after laying dormant in the archives since the early-2000s. Revived and looking better than ever with this pale yellow palette, it's yet more evidence that fashion always comes back around.

Off-White™ New Low Vulcanized Sneakers

New Low Vulcanized Sneakers

New Low Vulcanized Sneakers

$425

Off-White™

Buy at Off-White

Virgil's career was astonishing in all aspects, but few categories of his work were more successful than the sneakers. Not only did he usher in a new era for collaborations, but his work of Off-White™ shattered preconceptions of what a luxury sneaker is. The New Low Vulcanized Sneakers retain the deconstructed character of the collection, building on a super-understated base that reminds us of retro adidas silhouettes.

Axel Arigato Dice Lo Monogram

Dice Lo Monogram

Dice Lo Monogram

$295

Axel Arigato

Buy at Axel Arigato

Swedish label Axel Arigato has been building a serious amount of momentum in recent seasons. A closer focus on quality as well as an eye for bold design direction has put the brand in perfect stead for a spot in our underrated sneakers roundup. The entry: the Axel Arigato Dice Lo Monogram. Part of the recent Monogram collection, this retro-style sneaker gets its character from multicolored monogram text across the sidewalls.

New Balance 990 V1 Sneakers

990 V1 Sneakers

990 V1 Sneakers

$257

New Balance

Buy at Luisaviaroma

We're always here to support an outsider, and the 990 v1 is nothing short of that. While its 990 family members enjoy the high life, treated to multiple collaborations and high-profile releases, the 990 v1 — effectively the originator of the family — remains in the background. Luckily, Teddy Santis showed the silhouette some love earlier this year in the form of this neutral beauty. The fact that it's still available in a full size run is a travesty, so take advantage of it.

adidas Originals Orketro Sneakers

Orketro Sneakers

Orketro Sneakers

$150

adidas Originals

Buy at Luisaviaroma

Inspired by silhouettes from the extensive adidas archive as well as the clean lines and heavy builds of brutalist architecture, the adidas Originals Orketro is a new sneaker flavored by history. This dark-grey colorway emphasizes the heavy-duty silhouette which is detailed by jagged overlays culminating in the Three Stripes logo slanting across the side of the toe box.

Want to keep browsing? Head to the Highsnobiety Shop for more products that we love. Highsnobiety has affiliate marketing partnerships, which means we may receive a commission from your purchase.

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