Normally, all eyes would be on Paris runways this week for Fashion Week FW21 Men’s. However, with Highsnobiety’s second edition of “Not In Paris” running concurrently and most shows moving to digital showcases, it seems that trying to discern the latest fashion trends, highlight pieces, and footwear collaborations has lost some of its appeal.
This year, due to the ever-present pandemic, most eyes will be glued to YouTube streams and Instagram feeds to spot next season’s must-have items. Milan Fashion Week was relatively quiet, with only Prada and Samuel Ross’ A-COLD-WALL* showing anything of note in regards to footwear.
As has become tradition, Paris is likely to provide the biggest bang, with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Rick Owens, Dior, and Vetements presenting their FW21 collections. To make it easier and to sort through all of the noise, we’re on hand to round up the best, most WTF, and most noteworthy sneakers showcased.
Scroll through our roundup below for the lowdown on the best sneakers unveiled at Fashion Week Men’s FW21 (with London to follow in February).
Virgil Abloh’s FW21 collection for Louis Vuitton featured four main footwear styles of note, three of which are flips on and homages to existing designs. The first is what appears to be a flip of Salomon’s ultra-functional Advanced line of sneakers (number 1 in the gallery). It arrives in a colorful style with a trail-running-inspired pattern on the lateral and medial sides of the upper. A plastic heel plate completes the high-performance look.
The second style is a stell toe-capped cowboy boot, which comes in several different colors. The cowboy boots go with much of the clothing on show, which had a slight western aesthetic twist. The third style (number 3 in the gallery), looks like Abloh has flipped the Nike Air Max Plus and almost turned it into a more approachable sneaker. The silhouette’s iconic foam material covers the lateral and medial sides of the shoe, featuring the same grooves found on Nike’s original.
The final footwear style is what looks to be a flipped Nike Air Trainer, as it combines the silhouette’s signature forefoot strap with the upper of Louis Vuitton’s existing Trainer. The footwear collection continues Abloh’s reinterpretation of popular sneaker models, having already reworked the Nike Air Jordan 3, Avia 880, and the New Balance 9xx series.
COMME des GARÇONS HOMME PLUS x Nike Air Foamposite One
Is the Foamposite back? If COMME des GARÇONS HOMME PLUS’ FW21 show is anything to go by, New Yorkers will be rubbing their hands with glee as they pull out and dusting off their deadstock Foams (though, let’s be real, Foamposites are still very much a thing in NYC). The Japanese fashion house previewed two colorways of the indestructible Nike sneaker, which debuted in 1997 and was rocked by Penny Hardaway before the style was adopted by sneakerheads the world over. CDG’s versions feature a revamped pattern on the foam upper, which looks like a fingerprint or hypnotic circles. Check them out above.
Casablanca x New Balance
Parisien brand Casablanca had the honor of unveiling the New Balance 327 at Paris Fashion Week last year and have followed that up with the XC72 this year. Like the 327, the XC72 was designed by New Balance footwear designer Charlotte Lee and features a somewhat exaggerated ’70s-inspired aesthetic. The outsole, which was extended across the heel on the 327, is yet again a defining feature of the XC72, featuring two different types of treads, separated down the middle, as Joe Grondin previewed on Instagram here.
The sneaker, which will likely drop first as a collaboration with Casablanca, before dropping in general release colorways, is available in Casablanca’s signature green and orange color scheme, as well as a DHL-inspired red and yellow iteration.
COMME des GARÇONS SHIRT x KAWS x ASICS
KAWS and CDG have revived their longstanding partnership for FW21. The artist’s recognizable prints are present across the collection, which includes apparel, accessories, and footwear courtesy of ASICS. The sneakers, which are apparently part of the brand’s Tarther series, feature the same KAWS prints in different colors. According to COMME des GARÇONS, some of KAWS prints are adapted from ones he had previously made for the fashion house, while some are existing new artworks of his and others are completely original.
Dior’s FW21 collection was unveiled on Friday and the footwear included wellington boots, snow boots, new iterations of the B23 sneaker, and several other, more formal footwear options. The highlight of the collection has to be the snow boots, seen above courtesy of Thibo. They feature Dior’s all-over monogram and look extremely cozy. They seem to be a high-top version of Dior’s FW20 mules, with the addition of a lacing system.
Converse x Rick Ownes Drkshdw
One of Rick Owens’ most famous in-house footwear silhouettes, the Ramones, is a high-end take on the Converse Chuck Taylor. Now the two brands have come full circle, as Converse and Rick Owens’ Drkshdw sublabel have teamed up on an official, co-branded Chuck Taylor.
The sneaker leans heavily on Owens’ aesthetic, featuring three toe caps and several layers of rubber on the midsole for an extra chunky, albeit elongated look. The shoe arrives with an affordable, Converse-level price tag of $165 and $170, depending on the colorway. The sneaker has been named the TurboDrk.
White Mountaineering unveiled not one, not two, but three footwear collaborations during its FW21 show. Having previously teamed up with adidas on a range of co-branded sneakers and apparel, the Japanese label has now turned its attention to Saucony, Mizuno, and Danner. Each partner offers something a little different. The Danner sneaker is more formal, as it’s constructed of leather and features a zipper shroud closure across the forefoot. The Saucony collaboration is called the “Ultra Ridge” and looks to be a more performance-focused trail-running shoe that arrives in three distinct colorways. The third and final collaboration sees White Mountaineering rework Mizuno’s Wave Prophecy LS, an ultra-futuristic runner that doubles as a lifestyle sneaker.
Pigalle x Nike
Pigalle’s longstanding partnership with Nike continues into FW21, as the Parisien outfit unveiled a range of velvet Nike Air Jordan 1 Mids. Some pairs feature a velvet upper with a white rubber midsole, while other pairs also feature the material on the sole unit. The vivid colors are certainly eye-catching, though it remains to be seen whether these Nike Air Jordan 1 Mids will actually be released, or if they were only meant for the show.
UNDERCOVER x Nike Dunk High
The highlight of UNDERCOVER’s FW21 reveal came in the form of two colorways of a collaborative Nike Dunk High. With the Dunk hype at its peak, it should come as no surprise that the two brands have teamed up on the iconic shoe. The sneaker appears to be constructed from leather, featuring tonal Swoosh branding on the side, a contrasting Nike logo on the tongue, and the words "chaos" and "Gleichgewicht" on the heels, the latter of which is the German word for "balance."
A-COLD-WALL*’s FW21 footwear collection included both collaborations and in-house designs. The collaboration part of the collection was with the revered boot brand, Dr. Martens, with whom ACW* has already collaborated once in the past. The end result is a low-top Derby, which will be available in both grey (previewed above) and black.
The standout design from ACW*’s in-house footwear collection is previewed below. The Chelsea Boot-esque sneaker features a slip-on design and an elongated, neoprene collar that extends beyond the ankle. The main upper features ACW* branding on the toe, with a lugged, hiking-inspired sole unit.
Grace Wales Bonner’s FW21 collection included a range of formal leather footwear options, as well as a preview of the designer’s upcoming adidas collaboration. Wales Bonner x adidas is one of the most underrated collaborations at the moment — likely due to the missing hype — as the designs are often well thought-through and relatively timeless and versatile. If the FW21 preview is anything to go by, that won’t be changing any time soon.
Jil Sander unveiled a number of funky-looking sneaker boots, which feature an extended shroud that reaches from the ankle to the bottom of the knee. The shroud gives the impression that the boot is connected to a pair of loose-fitting pants.
Raf Simons showed his first Prada collection and, while the coats exceeded all of our expectations, the footwear fell a little flat — and that’s not a reference to the shape of the shoes. Instead of showing hyper-futuristic sneakers, as Prada has done in past seasons, Simons chose to reinvent the dress shoe, giving the classic leather silhouette an updated (and elevated) midsole.
Hermes Duel Sneaker
Hermes is not often a name you hear associated with sneakers. For FW21, however, the French luxury brand unveiled the Duel Sneaker, which is a sleek design that makes use of a neoprene upper and athletic-inspired sole. The calfskin overlays on the upper form the letter “H” on the quarterpanel.
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