Sneakers have evolved over the decades from a simple exercise shoe to the anchor of a good outfit. Today, nostalgic Chuck Taylors, sporty Air Force 1s, and the fashion-forward Balenciaga Triple S all hold space among trendsetters. And, with 2022 officially here, the top sneaker trends are a wardrobe staple no matter your personal style. As much of the workforce returns back to the office, dress codes aren’t experiencing the same comeback per se, making elevated sneakers a perfectly acceptable footwear option for work if they weren’t for you already.
But, it’s not all about the comfort these shoes offer; both emerging sneaker designers and household names have brought a new level of creativity to the category that can be appreciated even if you’re not a self-proclaimed “sneakerhead.” So, as much as you love your tried-and-true white sneakers, it’s time to get acquainted with the latest trends making their way onto the scene this winter.
Designers like George Mikaia of ultra-cool brand Crosty and Charlotte Lee of cult-classic New Balance are sharing the styles to watch for the year ahead. Hint: They’re looking back in time in order to move forward, giving this season a truly retro spin. Read ahead for the trends to know as you look to update your footwear arsenal for the coming year.
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Mugzy McFly, the Founder of streetwear label Signed By Mcfly, says this year will be all about high-octane hues. “In 2022, electric colors, strong greens, oranges, and red will dominate on sneakers, with shoes making the statement,” he says to TZR in an email. “With comfiness a priority for many, sneakers act as the anchor of our outfits. Loud and strong kicks act as the cherry on top of a calm, relaxing fit.”
Speaking of fit, the footwear guru says chunky styles will continue to dominate, “but futuristic sleek and alien vibe designs will also make more of an appearance as we work our way through the year.”
Gretchen Weimer, Global Vice President of Product at HOKA, says sneakers designed for optimum performance and movement will reign supreme this year. As strange as it sounds, reverse running is one of the biggest 2022 fitness trends, along with high-energy activities like pickleball, weighted hula hooping, and personal training sessions. So a lightweight, versatile sneaker designed to move with you at even the highest of intensities is key.
“Shoes that are built to perform will influence the rest of the market,” says Weimer in an email to TZR. “[...] Cushioning is more evident and products that feature it will continue to drive interest.”
Creative Director of Crosty George Mikaia sums up his most important trend of the year with the phrase “retro basket” — a little nostalgic, a little bit sporty, and a lot of cool. If you’re not familiar, Crosty is a Georgian-born brand that marries bold design with a sleek, forward-thinking approach; ultimately, leading to the pairing of a “retro tennis and basketball mood” with “futuristic lines and new technologies” for its winter drop.
Mikaia notes that green is the new black in the sneaker scene right now. “This color detail gives a retro mood to collections, taking people back to the old sports feeling,” he says. “I remember green combined with off-white tones from my childhood and old sports magazines that featured the Olympic games. My inspirations come from that period and the feelings that came with it.”
That ‘70s Shoe
New Balance is a household name in the sneaker industry but, that’s not to say it’s not all about innovation, too. In fact, Charlotte Lee, lifestyle footwear designer, looked back to the success of staple sneakers from the ‘70s as a starting place for creating the winter collection.
“The ‘70s trend wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and I instantly went back to the archive and said to myself, ‘what did I miss?’” says Lee. “During this search I came across an old advertising campaign showcasing the latest in outsole technologies titled ‘Three of The Best.’ Knowing we wanted this project to push the boundaries of where we had been before, I set to work incorporating the three different outsole tread patterns into the one shoe.”
She also notes that her intention in creating new designs is not to push for anything that’s too trendy and will quickly lose attention. “I can’t help but link the popularity of classic sneakers with consumers making better, more sustainable choices. Classic sneakers are more versatile as they can be worn in most settings,” she tells TZR.
With a Twist
Koio is a sneaker brand known for its minimalistic appeal, but this season, co-founder Johannes Quodt is adding a twist to its signature styles. He says, “Our Capri in Triple White will always be a bestseller, but this season we wanted to play with color. We chose tones that would stand out against the typical muted blacks and greys of winter — think deep green, red, and navy — but still complement an evolving wardrobe.”
The brand is also evolving past ankle-grazing styles that have been a favorite in seasons past and introducing fresh silhouettes into the mix. “High-tops and retro style sneakers are having a huge moment, and are perfectly seasonally appropriate. If you’re into the hightop trend, our Court in Distressed has a nice worn-in look.” All in all, if you're looking to step outside of your comfort zone without going too over-the-top, Koio’s winter drop is certainly for you.
What’s the sneaker industry without the hype? Sneaker lovers spend each season hunting for the next “It” shoe — and Jennifer Bandier, founder and chief brand officer of the popular retailer Bandier, has nailed it.
“I've been living in the New Balance 990v5 and wanted to find other styles with a similar design but with a bit more color.” Her recommendation? She suggests “the new Nike Air Max Furyosa and Nike Waffle One” as one of her most recent go-tos. She’s still loving the “dad sneaker” silhouette, favoring a chunky runner like the Nike Zoom Air Fire for the months ahead.
Sometimes, it’s necessary to think outside of the box, even when classics certainly do the trick. Jeffrey Alan Henderson is the founder and designer of up-and-coming NinetyNine Products, a brand that is pushing boundaries to embody the perks of both a sneaker, slipper, and even a boot.
“We designed the Point to be the year-round go-to for the ultimate in comfort utilizing the best performance materials without sacrificing style. People have been trapped in their homes so long that they just want to feel free,” he says about the style’s inspiration. “Heavy boots and trail shoes are great if you’re in the woods, but if you’re running to the grocery store or on vacation you just want to stay chill. More than a slipper but less than a boot." Combining the best of all worlds? Now that’s a design foundation to get behind.
Less is More
Allbirds is known for marrying sleek style with comfort and functionality, coined as “just the right amount of nothing” by Jamie McLellan, the brand’s VP design of futures. This season, the brand’s standout shoe is the Trail Runner SWT, which embodies the brand’s ethos while updating it with “more visual and technical depth than any of the other silhouettes to date.”
“In the trail running space, there exists a very strong vernacular that is pretty aggressive and takes itself a bit too seriously,” he explains. “We were inspired to do something differently, to have a little fun whilst also treading a little lighter as we head away from the city and into nature.” To make sure the shoe appeals beyond the outdoors, “we played with softer smiling jelly bean forms,” he says.
When it comes to sneakers, an approach rooted in softness and beauty usually isn’t top-of-mind; but for Saysh, that isn’t the case. Co-founded by Olympian Allyson Felix, the brand’s designers look to feminine inspirations.
“I was inspired by the lines of a wrap dress, which creates an undeniably feminine shape through a flowing design,” says product designer Natalia Candrian. “The drapes of a wrap dress are reminiscent of Allyson’s place of work, similar to the lines that denote a running track.” While Felix’s time running serves as a touch point of design, the shoes (which are currently sold out but will be restocked come spring) are meant to “bridge the worlds of the professional and the casual — a sneaker to accompany women whenever and wherever.”
Dsquared2 is known for its punchy, eye-catching designs when it comes to both apparel and accessories. “Our inspiration is drawn from our heritage combined with the main trends of the moment, we are always attentive to what is cool and what our consumers want!” says Dean Caten, who is the cofounder with brother Dan. Right now he explains interest in “exaggerated silhouettes and eye-catching logos, different styles renewed with innovative materials and print techniques. We also focused on balancing design with comfort and function.”
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