2016 has just started and it already looks to be a very promising year. There are very interesting developments on the horizon for sneaker and streetwear culture and we’ve already seen some great releases. But there’s lots more to come. So we decided to give you a breakdown of the biggest stories of the year. If you love sneakers, streetwear and basketball, these are the 10 essential things to look out for in 2016.
1. NBA All Star Weekend in Toronto
Right off the bat, the upcoming NBA All Star Weekend will have a huge impact on sneaker culture this year. From Feb 12 to Feb 14, the best ballers currently playing in the NBA will take over Toronto (the first time ever that an All Star Game is held outside of the US). But not only them. Over the years, the All Star weekend has attracted tons of celebrities from different fields, including the most influential hip hop artists and actors. This year will be no different – or maybe it will, in the sense that the impact will be even bigger. There’s no doubt that Drake is currently one of the most influential individuals in music and fashion. He will play a huge part in the festivities going on in his hometown. Being coach of Team Canada in the Celebrity Game we’re very curious to see whether he feels tempted to step on the court himself …
Apart from Drizzy Drake, of course, the actual players will use the occasion to show off their hottest kicks. All the major brands are in the game with special editions of their sneakers. The All-Star editions of Nike, Jordan and adidas signature shoes will be available to the public in time for the big event – and they are more than the ordinary use of different colors. Nike, for example, adds new elements to their signature kicks like removable patches and all shoes have interesting nods to Toronto culture, weather etc. In addition, adidas provides all-new uniforms and Stance continues to reinvent the NBA sock game. The last All Star Game in NYC was the first time Stance had the chance to design on-court socks for the NBA superstars. They’ve since taken over the NBA sock game entirely but, of course, All Star Weekend will be something special. Another brand to look out for – not only during All-Star weekend – is Under Armour …
2. Under Armour Takeover
It’s truly remarkable how the classic underdog story of Stephen Curry’s rise to MVP status and NBA champion perfectly resembles Under Armour’s ascent in the basketball supplier game. With great teamwork, a new version of small ball, exceptional ball-handling and deadly marksmanship the Warriors and Curry became a nearly unstoppable force. Under Armour as well found a way to make it in a highly competitive market. After revolutionizing performance underwear UA branched out to a number of fields including basketball shoes and apparel. The Curry One was great and the new Curry 2 is even better. Like the Warriors Under Armour found ways to improve against all doubts. Curry’s signature shoes mostly sell out quickly which proves that demand is high. It’s gonna be interesting to see how they transition from the court to the streets. The Low version of the Curry 1 showed great potential in that regard and it’s not a long shot to predict that this is the logical consequence of Steph’s well-deserved fame.
3. US sneaker culture infects Europe
This brings us to the next important development. Sneaker culture in Europe has been very distinctive from the US for a long time. While stateside sneaker culture is more or less synonymous with basketball culture, athletic shoe aficionados in Europe have shown a very distinctive style, incorporating many more shoes from different sports like soccer, track racing and tennis. Over the last few years, the sneaker game has become a huge bubble with more and more kids getting into collecting, camping and reselling. Whether you like it or not this is reality. Are we party-pooping and saying this bubble is about to burst? Not really. The point we’d rather like to make is that with more and more people getting into sneakers and sneakers becoming ubiquitous on the streets, in schools and offices, kids quite naturally develop an urge to distinguish themselves from each other. Wearing basketball sneakers off court is one of the few authentic ways to do that. Of course, the leading basketball brands are seeing this development and make the transition from court to the streets easy with new slim, low-cut silhouettes and lightweight high-tech fabrics like Primeknit/Flyknit.
4. Kobe’s Legacy
The Black Mamba had an extraordinary career in the NBA. 5x NBA champion, 18x All-Star, 2x Finals MVP, 1x NBA MVP, 2x Olympic gold medalist and countless other achievements. The list is even more remarkable when you consider that Kobe sticked with only one franchise through his whole career. He’s the last active player of the draft class of 1996 – one of the best ever with players like Steve Nash, Stephon Marbury and Ray Allen. He’s been criticized for ball-hogging. People love to hate him. But there’s no doubt that his legacy will live on long after his retirement at the end of this season. This is not only true for Kobe’s place in basketball history but also for his signature shoes’ place in sneaker culture. For a long time, Kobe’s sneakers have been fan favorites. Take for example the Adidas Kobe 8, nowadays known as the Crazy 8 which is still worn by basketball superstars in the NBA week in and week out. Or the Nike Kobe VI which awesome outsole was recently used for a new model called Nike Zoom Kobe Icon JCRD. This is a development we’ll see more often going forward: elements from Kobe’s signature kicks being incorporated into new silhouettes and maybe even some Kobes being retroed. There’s nothing confirmed yet, but it seems like a logical next step. Kobe could become an athlete with a similar impact on sneaker culture as MJ.
5. Revival of some on-court classics
In the past few years we’ve seen some great classic sports shoes make a comeback on the big stage. The Adidas Stan Smith and Superstar shone brighter than ever. The Nike Cortez, famously worn by Forrest Gump and countless real-life track runners, already came back strong last year and it’ll have an even stronger impact in 2016. Basketball fans will rejoice at seeing that some more old school basketball kicks will celebrate a revival. Back in the 1970s, Portland legend Geoff Petrie as well as Houston Rockets forward (and later coach) Rudy Tomjanovich among many others wore the Nike Bruin. Much later the court sneaker made an appearance on the big screen, worn by no other than Marty McFly in “Back to the Future”. It might still take a while until the Nike Air Mag becomes reality. The Nike Bruin is nearly as significant in sneaker history and it will be much easier to get your hands on a pair. Like the Bruin many athletic shoes transitioned from the courts and race tracks to popular culture and the streets. Hip Hop has always been a melting pot of different styles and influences. The hype around the Adidas Superstar is closely connected to Run D.M.C. while the Beastie Boys loved their Adidas Gazelle and Kendrick Lamar always rocked the Nike Cortez. All of these sneakers and some more (Adidas Court Star, Nike Tennis Classic and Match Classic, …) are back and popular as ever in 2016.
6. 3 Stripes
Adidas is in attack mode. By signing James Harden the brand with the 3 stripes took a huge step in the basketball market. Adidas not only pays a record sum (rumored to be around $200 mio. over 13 years) but also greeted Harden with a truck load (in the literal sense) of new shoes on the first day of his contract.
Ein von adidas Basketball (@adidashoops) gepostetes Foto am
No matter how you look at the money they’re spending, the Harden deal is great for adidas. For “The Beard” the sky is the limit. “He’s already one of the most recognizable sports figures because of his game, his look, his hunger to win and his style on and off the court. His ceiling is far from reached, which tells you the future for him and our brand looks incredible,” says Chris Grancio, adidas Global Basketball General Manager. And then there’s Kanye. Probably no other individual on this planet can currently move shoes like Yeezus. The hype around the Yeezys won’t stop in the near future and he can create hype around shoes that are not even his own. The best example is the all-white adidas Ultra Boost which went through the roof after photos of Ye wearing them appeared. Even if you don’t like Kanye you can’t deny that the boost cushioning is one of the best inventions in recent sports shoe history. The comfort is insane! While the Ultra Boost catered more towards the active, adidas didn’t forget to create a great lifestyle alternative: the adidas NMD or Nomad which will have a huge impact in sneaker culture this year.
7. Don’t call it a comeback
Fila is spearheading the strong American sportswear retro trend. The 90s were truly magnificent in terms of sportswear design. Back when we used to think the brand was called Fils they put out some dope stuff. Fila with its roots in Italy had been around forever and in the 80s they had supplied tennis players like Björn Borg and Boris Becker. But they really became cool when they oriented more towards basketball. With Grant Hill, Jerry Stackhouse and Chris Webber they signed some of the best and most spectacular athletes of their generation. From the courts the classic styles with bold lettering made their way into hip hop culture where they were worn by stars like Tupac.
Fila, Champion and other classics sports brands are now back to attack and appeal to young and old audiences alike. Young kids are introduced to the vintage-inspired styles for the first time while older peeps reminisce in sweet nostalgia. What’s still missing to complete the 90s street style? Right, some classic Timberland boots. Of course, this is not a comeback. Timbs are here to stay. Timberland is one of those companies that manage to re-invent themselves all the time without losing their heritage DNA. When the classic 6-inch working boots moved from factories to the streets in the 1990s they became an integral part of hip hop culture and were worn by the Wu-Tang Clan, Biggie and Pac. With rap superstars like Jay-Z and Drake going back to this style you already know that Timbs are big in 2016 – again. In short, everything we knew and loved about 90s hip hop culture is back. OK, forget about Fubu. Really. They’re not coming back. And that’s ok.
8. Jordan goes hard in the paint
We all know and love Jordan for their retro releases of Michael Jordan’s signature sneakers. But of course we can’t forget about the state-of-the-art performance gear they put out. With Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge the Jumpman brand supplies some of the best and most spectacular athletes in the game. This year they focus heavily on new training and performance gear tailored to aspiring ballers. The Air Jordan XXX is already in the starting blocks. It’s the pinnacle of basketball shoes, the next frontier of flight. All great, only the naming might not be the best. Please don’t google “Jordan XXX” while you’re in the office or any other sensitive environment like on the sofa with your mom. Trust me.
9. More Colors
For the first half of the year, monochrome colorways in triple-red, triple-black and triple-white will continue to play a huge part in the sneaker market. But there’s also gonna be some more variations. You can expect so see some more colors like olive. Aaand … watch out for pink. Yes, you’ve read it here. Surely, not everybody can wear pink and maybe even less people fancy pink clothes. But they’re gonna be around much more and that’s cool. Diversity is king.
10. Hoodies replace crewnecks
This might not be the most exciting development, but expect to see less crewnecks and much more hoodies. Large 90s-style prints are also making a strong comeback on clothing. What’s the reason behind this? For a long time now American sportswear is on an unstoppable triumph march across all continents. Sweatpants was once at the frontier of this development, then recently came crewnecks and now the line is completed by hoodies. This perfectly fits the 90s retro trend in streetwear but is not limited to it. The hoody has become a viable option in high fashion as well. You can combine it with
In cooperation with FIVE Magazine.