2023 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 Tiffany & Co. x Nike AF1. Elsewhere, we had Patta continuing its wildly successful string of collaborations with Converse while Ronnie Fieg and KITH teamed up with adidas and Clarks for an elevated version of the classic Samba.
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 and 2023 (so far) below.
Merrell Moab Speed GORE-TEX 1TRL
Though widely known for its comfy Winter Moc and Hydro Moc silhouettes, the Moab Speed is easily one of the most underrated sneakers from the Michigan-based brand. With GORE-TEX's large stamp of approval, these sneakers can withstand messy weather and match your 'fits with ease.
Nike Air Max 96 II Sneakers
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.
Converse x Fucking Awesome Louie Lopez Pro Mid
In the skate scene, Louie Lopez is heralded as one of the best skaters to emerge within the last 15 years. His pro model with Converse and FA is smooth and vivid just like his skate style.
Gucci Run Sneakers
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
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.
Athletics Footwear One.2
Athletics Footwear could be seen as the underdog of the sneaker industry but the brand is ramping up to make strides in 2023. It's One.2 silhouette is an adaptation of its first model and is engineered in all the right places to provide comfort with every step you take.
Stone Island Grime Sneaker
With so many releases being piled together every few weeks it's easy to forget that Stone Island released several sneakers in line with it's football-adjacent history. Inspired by the U.K.'s music genre of choice, the Grime sneaker is just as expertly crafted as the brand's most popular garments.
New Balance MT580RTB
Sure calling any New Balance sneaker underrated might be going too far, but the 580 is one of the more slept models from the brand's large roster. The chunky silhouette is crafted with a mesh and suede upper and still sports the brand's comfy ABZORB midsole.
JW Anderson Bubble Sneakers
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.
It won't be long until sneakerheads realize the potential of Norda's 001 silhouettes. Crafted from a super durable material known as Bio-Dyneema, the sneaker is ultra-lightweight and, provides grip and comfort every step of the way.
Off-White™ New Low Vulcanized Sneakers
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
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.
Stepney Workers Club Pearl S-Strike Leather
Stepney is another brand that often slips through the cracks but in reality, models like the Pearl and Dellow are timeless, and work any time of the year.
adidas Campus 00s
New Balance 574 Legacy Sneakers
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.
adidas Originals Orketro Sneakers
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.
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