2020 may seem grey. But for sneakerheads, it’s a year of big colour and bold blocking. From pre-pandemic to upcoming drops, we’ve got our picks for the top colour-blocked kicks of the new decade.
How did colour-blocking meet modern fashion? The first sighting was in 1946. Inspired by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, Yves St. Laurent’s fall runway revealed contrasting colours and sharp transitions.
Then came the 60s, where psychedelics and go-go brought thick lines and bright colours to the forefront. From mod to counterculture, this might have been the golden era of colour-blocking.
And of course, the 80s. Colour-blocking took on a new life in this decade. It was all about neon, flashy metallics and exaggerated shapes. But most importantly, it’s when the world met Air Jordan 1.
AJ1 revolutionized sneaker colour-blocking. The OG “Banned” colourway was an unexpected blend of black and red. When it dropped (and landed on MJ’s feet), the iconic fit challenged the NBA’s sneaker rules. The black/red combo became a symbol of resistance and changed the sneaker game for good.
But it wasn’t just the colourway. The silhouette itself is what made colour-blocked sneakers a staple. The AJ1 is constructed with countless options for blocking, from sharp coloured panels to textured detailing. That’s why it’s been successfully refreshed and reimagined by collaborators for over 30 years.
Since AJ1, sneakers have turned colour-blocking into an art form. Just like “Banned”, colour can represent something new. And like a handful of the kicks on this list, it can also remind you of something nostalgic.
Either way, here are our favourite colour-blocked sneakers of 2020 (so far).
Our first pick is a perfect example of an AJ1 reboot. Court Purple graces the toe box, heel and wings, while a shot of white takes over the quarter panel. The purple Nike tag on the tongue is what gives this all-leather silhouette its OG status.
Dropped in April, this inventive Air Force 1 release puts colour-blocking in the hot seat. The silhouette features tear-away textiles that can be removed to reveal bold panelling across the entire body.
If you haven’t heard, 2020 has been dubbed the year of the Dunk. Nike’s new “Champs Colors” pack is no exception. This colourway collection is clearly inspired by college sports teams - nothing new for the Nike crew. Since 1985’s “Be True To Your School” college pack, Dunks have been using colour-blocking to represent something bigger than ROYGBIV.
Inspired by retro New Balance runners, the new orange and green colourways are sleek and simple. With Casablanca on board, the design makes use of curvy panelling to show off each shade against the chunky “N” logo.
With a strikingly similar colourway to the Yeezy 2 “Cheetah” - a mysterious and still unreleased Kanye effort - these Air Max 90’s are all about pairing unlikely colours. The two-tone purple hues play off each other while neon green panels hold the ruby red laces in place.
This might be one of our favourite 2020 colour-blocked moments. Dropping on August 27, this Black Mamba tribute uses colour to represent the 12 unlucky franchises who could have (but didn’t) drafted Kobe at the beginning of his career. Both the Kobe and UNDEFEATED logos touch the tongues and heels, while each team is called out by name on the insole. Well played, Nike.
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