We did it. We made it to the end of a year that most of us will always remember (or choose to forget). While 2020 wasn’t exactly ideal, we can’t help but celebrate the major sneaker moments that went down amidst the chaos.
From legendary releases to sneaker icons, our team narrowed the year down to 5 favourites.
If any shoe will define 2020, it’s got to be the now iconic Nike x Ben & Jerry’s collab.
The Chunky Dunky was unexpected and truly strange, just like practically everything else that happened this year. When it dropped in May, sneakerheads were ready to laugh it off. Instead, it became one of the most lucrative releases of the year. Even now, resale prices are upwards of $2,000.
What made it such a hit? Ultimately, the Chunky Dunky is a gorgeous shoe. It features hairy-suede cow print panelling, a swoosh that drips like a scoop of Half-Baked, stitched-on clouds under the heel tab, and a tie-dyed lining and insole. The detailing is wild and wacky but also intricate and masterful, making this Dunk pretty much impossible to ignore.
This 10-part documentary series dropped on Netflix right after the world went into lockdown. In other words, it was seen by virtually everyone.
Chronicling the iconic 90’s championship run for Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, The Last Dance was also a high point in 2020 sneaker culture. Air Jordan is still as relevant today as it was two decades ago, but the doc highlighted just how timeless and important Jordan Brand continues to be. It inspired a spree of “Every Sneaker Worn in The Last Dance” recaps and dedicated an entire episode to the AJ1 phenomenon.
The Last Dance was an instant hit and caused MJ’s stock to skyrocket. A pair of autographed AJ1s even broke world auction records when it sold for $560,000 after the series was released. The youngest bidder wasn’t even born yet when the AJ1 dropped.
Ask any sneakerhead what silhouette dominated 2020, and the Dunk will surely be part of the conversation. By summer, this year had already been dubbed the Dunk Renaissance. We even broke down exactly how the comeback came to be on the Shoe Laundry blog.
Drop after drop kept the Dunk top of mind. Retro colourways, intriguing collabs, and sustainable textiles continuously re-invented the classic silhouette. From Travis Scott’s “Cactus Jack” to “Community Garden” and, of course, the Chunky Dunky, it wouldn’t be a 2020 roundup without paying homage to this Nike favourite.
In case you forgot, 2020 started with an entire continent being set on fire. Despite everything, climate change and sustainability were still some of the most talked about issues of the year. With sneaker production accounting for 1.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the industry’s top brands continued to push their sustainable efforts forward.
Nike’s Space Hippie Collection was a standout among them. Every shoe in the collection featured Space Waste Yarn uppers - a blend of 85% polyester recycled from plastic bottles, clothing, and scraps of yarn. But the most notable textile was Nike’s innovative Crater Foam. Rubber grind from manufacturing floors was injected into the foam, giving it that speckled look, like a chunk out of the moon.
While the impressive sustainability of its materials makes Space Hippie worthy of a 2020 best-of, the collection also looked good. Among the top sustainable sneakers of the year, Nike takes the cake with this one.
Before masks or politics or protests, 2020 was rocked by the first heartbreak of the year when Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, among 7 others, died in a tragic helicopter accident.
The basketball legend was a force for sneaker design. Through his partnership with Nike, he pushed the brand to reinvent the low-top basketball sneaker for high performance. When he died, the hoops and sneaker community mourned in tandem, until Nike announced its Mamba Week to honour the Black Mamba himself.
Included in the tribute were a collection of NBA jerseys and Kobe V Protro colourways. “UNDEFEATED” was a Shoe Laundry favourite. It featured intricate colour-blocking that represented the 12 unlucky franchises who could have (but didn’t) draft Kobe at the beginning of his career. Well played, Nike.
Yes, it was a tough one. But 2020 was also the year that you helped us make Shoe Laundry a reality. Our vision for sustainable, plant based, Canadian-made shoe care came to fruition despite a global pandemic, and for that, we will always have a soft spot for the total mess that was 2020.
What was your top sneaker moment of the year? Leave us a comment and let us know.
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