2020 has been a year of serious hype when it comes to the world of footwear, partly down to the fact that for the past few months we’ve had nothing to do other than stare longingly at the release announcements on Instagram. It could also be because brands have seemingly blown many of the self-imposed limits from their designs. We’ve seen some more-than-unlikely collaborations — we’re looking at you, Nike and Ben & Jerry’s — as well as some no-holds-barred designs like the Nike SB Dunk x Grateful Dead. Elsewhere we had Dior team up with Nike for a seriously understated, seriously overpriced Nike Air Jordan 1 while Virgil imparted his magical touch on a wildly popular Nike Air Jordan 4.
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 pretty uneventful few months for a sneakerhead. 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 under-the-radar releases of 2020 below.
New Balance 1500 “Animal Pack - Cheetah”
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New Balance is having a moment, but while the introduction of the New Balance 327 and the JJJound collaboration dominate the headlines, the Animal Pack went virtually unnoticed this spring. This iteration updates the much-loved 1500 silhouette with a textured upper made of faux-fur, leather, and mesh.
Nike Air Force 1 Low “NY vs NY”
Releasing on July 17th, the Nike Air Force 1 Low “NY vs NY” suggests that New York — in its own league — can only really compete against itself. Paying homage to some of the city’s most storied basketball courts with a selection of velcro patches, it’s only right that this release used the Air Force 1 as its canvas, being the shoe that defines and unites all five of NY's boroughs.
Nike Air Jordan 4 Retro “Metallic Pack - Purple”
In a time when all evidence shows that the most ‘out-there’ designs garner the most attention, it’s a brave move to strip things back to basics, but that’s what Air Jordan did with the Metallic Pack. Clean, white-leather uppers play backdrop to metallic purple hits along the eyelets, trims, and air bubble. This is up there with our favorite releases of Summer 2020 and it is criminally underrated.
adidas Yeezy Boost 380 “Mist”
Released back in March, there were certainly a lot of other things to think about when this version of the Yeezy Boost 380 dropped but that still doesn’t excuse the lack of attention it got. The Mist colorway has outer-space appeal and the prime knit upper features a subtle camouflage motif that adds texture.
New Balance M1300 “Blue/Teal”
The New Balance M1300 is another of the brand’s flagship models. That means it’s going nowhere soon thanks to its timeless appeal which is only enhanced by a premium suede upper complete with a perforated base layer. Blue suede combines effortlessly with teal hits to the logo and heel for an eye-catching but pared-back color palette.
New Balance M1300 “Tan/Orange”
It’s not often that New Balance takes center stage, which is probably down to the fact that the brand doesn’t churn out high-profile collaborations like adidas and Nike. That makes NB a great one to keep an eye on, though, as it calmly drops masterful colorways like this tan and orange number outfitted in supple suede.
Nike Air Jordan 1 Mid “Light Smoke Grey”
Which Jordan 1 released between June and August 2020 could hope to compete with Off-White™ and Dior’s collaborations? Despite its calm and collected colorway, the Light Smoke Grey Jordan 1 didn’t rouse any noticeable crowds which makes it the ideal underrated flex for the remainder of summer and all of fall.
adidas Yeezy 700 V3 “Alvah”
Sometimes it can feel hard to keep up with everything that ‘Ye is up to. From botched presidential campaigns to what seems like weekly Yeezy drops, some of the output can go unnoticed. That’s what happened to the extra-terrestrial-style Yeezy 700 V3 “Alvah”. A black and grey color palette perfectly suits the flowing, alien silhouette of one of the most underrated Yeezy releases ever.
Nike Space Hippie 04 WMNS “Grey Volt”
Legend has it that the Nike Space Hippie is constructed from space junk. Actually, ‘space junk’ roughly translates as ‘waste cuts from the Nike workshop floor’, but we’re here for it either way. The recent Space Hippie family from Nike explores the possibilities of sustainable footwear design with a range of futuristic models.
Nike Air Jordan 5 Retro “Alternate Grape”
Paying homage to the classic Air Jordan 5 “Grape” colorway that caught attention when Will Smith sported it on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air all those years ago, The Air Jordan “Alternate Grape” updates the style with a deep purple suede upper while retaining the nostalgic, electric turquoise hits to the tongue, heel tab and outsole.
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