The Top 10 Sneakers of 2020
If we’re honest, 2020 was probably the shittiest year on record. Our home country Australia was burnt to a crisp with savage and unforgiving bushfires, COVID came and killed hundreds of thousands of people, and the late, great Kobe Bryant left our world. We had the plane crashed, bombings, oil spills, and more COVID-related shit — in fact, you can catch a full rundown of the terrible 2020 right here. For sneakers, though, it was a pretty solid year in the end, with surprising years from New Balance, sturdy years from the supporting cast in adidas, Reebok, ASICS, and YEEZY, and one hell of a year from Nike and Jordan Brand. As tough as it is, each year we sit down at the HOUSE OF HEAT office to deliberate, discuss and debate about which sneakers deserve to be honored in our Top Ten list each year. Often that discussion turns to anger, dismay, and even punches thrown, but this year we kept it pretty civil. Deciding the Top 10 Sneakers of 2020 was slightly easier relative to previous years, though it was still a grueling process. Thank god for tequila, is all we can say.
So while we recover from that hefty hangover, take a look through HOUSE OF HEAT’s Top 10 Sneakers of 2020 and be sure to tell us your thoughts, changes, and disputes on this list across our social media channels today.
10. New Balance 327
With notable collaborations from Casablanca, size?, Levi’s, and Concepts, along with a bevy of banger GR drops, it’s hard to pinpoint just which is the best 327 of the year. By the way units moved throughout 2020, you’d be forgiven in thinking that the silhouette is an old favorite on the comeback. It’s not, it’s brand new to the year, and by far the brand’s best of 2020 – though the 550 might have something to say about that in 2021.
9. Nike Kobe 5 “Bruce Lee”
Though there were a few releases before these, November’s Nike Kobe 5 “Bruce Lee” was arguably the most anticipated. The colorway is a bonafide classic, and regardless of the circumstances, it still would have been on this list.
8. Travis Scott x Nike SB Dunk Low
For better or worse, there has been no bigger influencer on sneakers in 2020 than La Flame. Hell, people ate up his horrible Air Force 1s and gingivitis-loaded Air Max 270 Reacts, but these things right here were going to be a hair, name attached or not. Premium suede uppers and tongues met with tear-away paisley and mid panels of plaid, all resting atop everybody’s favorite gum rubber outsole. How could you go wrong?
7. Air Max Anniversary (Air Max 90 “Infrared” & Air Max 95 “Neon”
We just couldn’t split the two anniversary Air Max OGs, and we’re tipping that it’s a tough call for you, too. You can literally never, ever, go wrong with a pair of either of these — and the best part is you can beat them up because they’ll both be back in 5 years for their 35th and 30th anniversaries, respectively.
6. Air Jordan 4 and 5 “Fire Red”
While we’re on OGs, who could pass up these two Fire Reds from Jordan Brand? — and again, we couldn’t split ’em. Both delivered in HUGE numbers (as any OG retro should be) the Air Jordan 4 received the Nike Air treatment for the first time ever, while the Silver Tongues also returned in all of its original glory. Red, white, and black always looks good on Js — but even more so on these two.
5. OFF-WHITE x Air Jordan 5
You know how these things go. First photos appear — seemingly taken on an early 00’s flip phone — and they get flamed. The pairs arent framed for on-foot looks, or shown in their best light, and the hate comments come in. Then, after a few weeks, detailed looks roll in, then some studio shots and attitudes start to change. Buy the time on-foots are leaked or Virgil himself is spruiking the pair, then it seems that the entire sneakerverse is after them. And boy, were they. Another near-impossible cop to add to the list for 2020.
4. DIOR x Air Jordan 1
We debated including these into the list for the sheer fact that they were so unattainable — but then we realized that even the GR Dunk releases are impossible to pick up, so we thought why the fuck not. Everything about the sneaker was done to perfection; the design and execution, the link-up with Travis Scott for the marketing, and even the way they were raffled was world-class — but we wouldn’t expect anything less from Christian Dior; Damn, they don’t make ’em like this anymore.
3. OFF-WHITE x Air Jordan 4
By far Virgil’s best Nike/Jordan collaboration in a long, long time — and that’s probably because they were birthed during his unstoppable run of bangers from back in 2017-19. The one-time-sample was first seen at MCA Chicago back in mid-2019, and immediately caught the attention of the sneaker community. Barely a year later, we got a retail release — but we’re still waiting on that promised Men’s release, mate.
2. Air Jordan 1 “Dark Mocha”
Who’d have thought that a GR would make it this far? Perhaps you can put it down to the Travis Scott Effect, but these gems were quite obviusly Jordan Brand’s best non-og, non-collaboration of the year. Call ’em a broke man’s Travis Scott if you will, but simply put, many people don’t want to fork out ridiculously coin for kicks.
1. Ben & Jerry’s x Nike SB Dunk Low
I don’t care what your thoughts are on this one, it was by far the most talked-about sneaker of the year around the time it surfaced. In an age of super-early leaks, it’s lead-up was relatively short. One day a first look appeared, the next it was releasing. It was a whirlwind — we had anyone and everyone (verified or not) in our DMs asking for a hook-up. It showcases the creativity and freedom that Nike SB is renowned for, all the way down to its ice cream tub packaging. The timing was right, too. The Dunk revival was just picking up steam, and boom. You either love it or hate it — there’s nobody on the fence about this one, and that’s what makes a great sneaker.
Of course, we can’t fit everything we wanted into this list, but there are a few notable drops that we couldn’t not mention before we closed off the list for the year. Although adidas didn’t feature
Travis Scott x PlayStation x Nike SB Dunk Low
The only reason why these things were ruled out of the Top Ten was the fact that only 5 pairs were made available. Otherwise, these things would have been towards the pointy end of the list. The three-headed hype behind them in Travis Scott, The Nike SB Dunk, and PlayStation was a preteen’s wet dream — but hey, we like ’em, too.
Joefreshgoods x New Balance 992
What Joefreshgoods was able to do with this collaboration was nothing short of spectacular. The Chicago native got the go-ahead from New Balance for an All-Star Weekend release in his hometown, and boy did he deliver a banger for his first footwear collaboration. What’s even more impressive is that Joe’s design was heavily limited by New Balance — they pretty much gave him the standard NB1 customization platform with a few extra additions. They say great designers can work within constraints, and that he did, kickstarting a 992 revival in the process.
Jonah Hill x adidas Collection
When was the last time somebody said that they “had to have” a pair of Sambas? Unless you’re an indoor soccer superstar in Brazil, it’s likely never. But the creative genius in Jonah Hill managed to deliver the best effort on the silhouette that one has seen for many, many years. His initial offering on the Superstar was actually incredible, too. To be honest, we really didn’t see this coming, but to his credit, Jonah did a stellar job. We can’t wait to see what he has in store for 2021.
adidas Ultra 4D
About 4 years too late, the adidas Ultra 4D finally arrived in 2020. And despite a massive dip in the Ultra BOOST lineage, the silhouette has continued to dominate sales. The initial offering tied into the OG nicely and rightfully deserves a mention in the top drops of the year.
Nike ISPA Road Warrior
Honestly, there is not a situation in the world in which these would be appropriate footwear — and we love that. The audacious design, the use of a mindfuck of elements and clever use of negative space puts these in a league of their own — as does the whopping $500 price point.
YEEZY 350 v2 “Bred”
It’s been a solid year for YEEZY brand — but it hasn’t been a standout one. In fact, their best release of the year was this, a restock of 2017’s YEEZY 350 v2 “Bred”. Ye and co need not worry about another average year ahead because, by the looks of this 2021 YEEZY Release Dates list, next year is shaping up to be a banger.
Nike Space Hippie Initiave
Though there are five silhouettes to chose from, we decided to pair these collectively. Though the designs are in their own right fire, it’s the sustainable scheme that made these stand out. Recycled yarn, grind rubber-infused soles and tech picked up off the cutting room floor make the Space Hippie backstory just as interesting as their physical appearances.