The HYPEBAE Best: The Top 10 Sneakers and Shoes of 2020 According to Our Editors
From the Dior Air Jordan 1 High to the Prada loafers.
As 2020 finally comes to a close (it’s been a long year, to the say the least), we’re taking stock of the buzziest footwear releases of the past 12 months. The pandemic didn’t stop brands from collaborating on standout silhouettes, as well as dropping quarantine-friendly shoes suited for wear at home and socially-distanced outdoor gatherings.
The ultimate in ugly-chic, Birkenstock tapped Proenza Schouler to update its classic Arizona sandal in black, semi-glossy leather accented with contrast stitching. Also in unexpected fashion, this year saw the return of the UGG. Fueled in part by our pivot to comfortable, lounge-ready shoes, the brand’s fuzzy Oh Yeah slide quickly became a favorite — and was spotted on street style stars including Hailey Bieber and Bella Hadid. In sneakers, Dior gave the Air Jordan 1 High a super-luxe makeover in the house’s signature Oblique monogram, while sacai and Nike continued their partnership with the VaporWaffle in “Black/White.”
Keep reading for the top 10 shoes of 2020 and don’t miss the rest of our HYPEBAE Best rankings.
It’s been quite the year for AMBUSH. One of the brand’s myriad projects from 2020, AMBUSH designer Yoon Ahn teamed up with Nike and the NBA to create a collection paying homage to the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets. Included in the range is a revamped version of Nike’s classic basketball shoe, the Dunk High. The co-branded high-top applies black leather paneling to a clean white upper. Oversized, rubberized Swooshes jut out beyond the heel, a touch inspired by motorcycle and car tailpipes. Sleek AMBUSH branding at the heel and tongue tags finish off the eye-catching yet understated sneaker.
The AMBUSH x NBA x Nike Dunk High is sold out at Nike’s website, but can be found on retailers such as Flight Club starting at $350 USD.
Amina Muaddi Lupita Slipper
Amina Muaddi began building buzz in late 2019, when Rihanna hired the shoe designer for a role at FENTY. Since then, Muaddi has continued to steal the sartorial spotlight with her signature flared heels including the Lupita, a slip-on silhouette that has become one of the designer’s hero styles. Constructed with a sculptural, 95mm-high heel, the cheeky mule arrives in a variety of fabrications including metallic leather, shiny satin and even clear PVC.
Amina Muaddi’s Lupita Slipper is available at retailers including Mytheresa, where the style starts at approximately $643 USD.
Originally unveiled at Bottega Veneta‘s Fall/Winter 2020 runway show, the Puddle boot quickly became a fashion crowd must-have (Tracee Ellis Ross called it her “new favorite pandemic shoe“). Suited for wet weather and beyond, the boot puts a twist on the classic wellie, shortening it to hit just above the ankle and swapping out a flat midsole for a curved platform. It’s also made of biodegradable polymer — a plus for the environment — in a range of classic and statement colorways including black, tan, pink and lime green.
Bottega Veneta’s Puddle Boots retail $650 USD at the Bottega Veneta website.
A collaboration coveted by millions (no exaggeration), Dior’s Air Jordan 1 High was one of the most hyped releases of the year. A total of 13,000 pairs of the ultra-luxe shoe were painstakingly made by hand in Italy, resulting in a silhouette rich with detail. Featuring a white and silver-toned upper embossed with co-branded Jumpman Wings at the collar, Nike’s signature Swoosh is rendered in Dior’s Oblique monogram, while baby blue midsoles add a hint of color. A hidden touch paying testament to the design detail of the shoe, Dior branding is nestled under the sockliner of both the left and right shoe.
The Dior Air Jordan 1 High is being resold at retailers including The Real Real, where pricing rings up at around $13,000 USD.
Another Jumpman collaboration, the Off-White™ x Air Jordan 4 “Sail” was exclusively released in women’s sizing after its debut on the Fall/Winter 2020 runway. Virgil Abloh signatures are generously applied to the tan sneaker — the designer’s zip-tie is fastened to laces, while quoted text reading “AIR” is printed on the midsole. Plastic cage paneling offsets the silhouette’s smooth leather upper and complements transparent rubberized detailing at the heel and tongue.
The Off-White™ x Air Jordan 4 “Sail” is available at retailers including Stadium Goods, where pricing starts at $1,405 USD.
Following months of speculation, Prada and adidas dropped their second collaborative sneaker at the beginning of December. Looking to the sport of sailing for inspiration, the duo borrowed design cues from the streamlined AC75 Luna Rossa boat. The result is the A+P Luna Rossa 21, a minimal, lightweight shoe optimized for wear on the water. A bright white PRIMEGREEN upper is made of recycled materials, while a hydrophobic E-TPU outer shell provides flexible and waterproof support. A BOOST midsole is splashed with Prada’s signature red stripe at the heel, adding a pop of color to the otherwise tonal shoe. For no-slip knots and speedier tying, laces are designed with a wider top and a narrower bottom.
The Prada x adidas Luna Rossa 21 retails for $695 USD at the Prada website.
Prada Logo Loafers
Another pick from Prada, the brand’s logo loafers add covetable branding to the classic shoe. Arriving in semi-gloss patent leather, the penny loafers are constructed with a stacked heel and a rounded toe. Prada’s signature triangle logo plaque is fastened at the vamp, adding edge to the preppy silhouette.
Prada’s Logo Loafers retail for $850 USD at the Saks Fifth Avenue website.
Birkenstock and its practical, no-frills sensibility made the brand’s signature Arizona sandal the shoe-of-the-moment when the pandemic hit and consumers pivoted to styles suited to a WFH lifestyle. A prime example of Birkenstock’s newfound trendiness, the brand’s collaboration with Proenza Schouler merges luxury and comfort. Proenza Schouler revamped the slip-on shoe in semi-gloss leather, replacing the silhouette’s typical buckle closures with velcro straps detailed with contrast stitching.
The Proenza Schouler x Birkenstock Arizona retails for $420 USD at the Bloomingdale’s website.
In 2019, sacai and Nike’s LDWaffle dominated fashion, from the streets to social media. Continuing their partnership in 2020, the duo unveiled the VaporWaffle, a sneaker combining design elements from two Nike silhouettes, the innovative Vaporfly and the 1983 Pegasus. Rendered in versatile “Black/White,” the shoe boasts a deconstructed midsole (similar to that of the LDWaffle) and a mesh-leather upper. Dual lateral Swooshes and double-stacked tongues add to the sneaker’s experimental look.
The sacai x Nike VaporWaffle “Black/White” is being resold at retailers including Stadium Goods, where pricing starts at $540 USD.
UGG Oh Yeah Slide
From velour tracksuits to Von Dutch, Y2K fashion was on the rise long before the pandemic hit. Also subject to our nostalgia for the early ’00s, UGG’s shearling footwear has long been making a comeback. Though the brand’s fuzz-lined boots may immediately come to mind, UGG also offers silhouettes ranging from heels to sandals. One of its standout styles of the year, the Oh Yeah slide is a summer-friendly shoe featuring a logo-printed slingback strap and fuzzy midsole. Colorways including lime green “Sulfur,” lavender “Amethyst” and pastel “Retro Mint” make the strappy style all the more playful.
UGG’s Oh Yeah Slide retails for $100 USD at the UGG website.