2014 is coming to a close. With each passing year, there are always takeaways from what’s currently happening in sneaker culture. Here, the Sole Collector staff shares what they found the most memorable this year.

Brendan Dunne (@brendandunne)
News Editor

Red October Madness

The “Red October” Yeezy 2 definitely provided the most entertainment in the past twelve months in terms of a singular sneaker. There were botched details from Foot Locker regarding a possible release, there was Kanye West taking shots at Mark Parker over the Yeezy line, there were accusations of celebrities buying fake pairs, and then there was the assumption that the project had been left for dead given Kanye’s adidas deal. And then, somehow, there was a random Nikestore tweet on a Sunday morning that ignited the chaos once again by letting pairs out into the public. Let’s not forget Nike’s constant revisiting of the “Red October” theme since that has almost felt like a deliberate trolling of ‘Ye.

Marvin Barias (@MJO23DAN)
Forums Manager

The Rise of Sneaker Personalities

The best thing I’ve seen in sneakers this year was the acknowledgement of sneaker reviewers and media in the social landscape by big name brands and retailers. Particularly the invite of media personalities to Michael Jordan’s crib in Illinois. It gave MJ fans a glimpse of what the grounds of the property looked like from the inside out. Reviews of the Air Jordan 29 was done exceptionally well and individuals had a chance to play ball on that indoor court. It just goes to show that people that do well on various social platforms have an opportunity to “make it” in this industry.

Gerald Flores (@ImGeraLd)

Random Restocks

It’s no secret that more people are looking to cop online, rather than inside an actual brick-and-mortar sneaker store nowadays. If you’re very tech savvy (i.e. use sneaker bots) you have a slight advantage checking out of NikeStore.com with that coveted pair in your cart over others.

The beauty and the tragedy of the sneaker game is that there’s always going to be people who come up short Saturday morning (the fact that some sneakers are harder to get make them more desirable, amirite?) But in 2014, all hope wasn’t lost if you missed out on a scheduled Air Jordan launch. Thanks to random restocks, there was always a chance you’d still be able to grab that pair without having to pay reseller prices. Of course, chances of striking out are equally as high and there’s no scientific way to predict exactly when a restock is going to happen.

And that’s what made them so cool to me. Much like how Nike dropped the “Red Octobers” online this past February, restocks are probably the closest thing to early in sneaker culture, when there were no exact Friday or Saturday launch dates – you just went into a store and got lucky.

Brandon Richard (@xBRICHx)
Senior Writer 

New Signature Athletes

At the end of last season, just seven signature basketball athletes represented the major sneaker brands. Since then, adidas has rolled out the J Wall 1, Nike introduced the Kyrie 1, Dame Lillard and Steph Curry will join the ranks next year and James Harden is rumored to follow. If that holds, the number of signature basketball athletes will have nearly doubled in less than a year.

A variety of signature athletes was a factor in the ’90s sneaker boom. Not only were the campaigns enjoyable, but they opened buyers up to ‘other’ brands. At a time when there seems to be a lot of Nike tunnel vision, it’s great to see adidas and Under Armour launching signature product for some of the league’s most exciting players.

Not to discredit Nike’s moves. Irving (and potentially Harden down the line) freshens up a signature lineup that has gone unchanged since 2008. With Kobe Bryant expected to retire soon, Nike is being proactive in identifying a replacement.

The NBA is ushering in a new era of stars and sneaker companies are doing the same. With so many fresh personalities on the scene, we may be on the verge of a special time for basketball footwear.

Steve Jaconetta (@ajordanxi)
Release Dates & Archives Editor

Everything Jordan Brand Did

The minute Jordan Brand announced that they were remastering its retro program, I immediately thought, ‘What does this mean for the people who get the early samples or fake pairs?’ Since they’re rebuilding each silhouette by hand with new molds, will people be more perceptive to the difference between real and fake or, will the cycle continue without a hitch?

It is a big surprise when a Jumpman silhouette that isn’t a signature Air Jordan grabs the sneaker world’s attention. When the Air Jordan Future was unveiled, it quickly grabbed the attention of everyone, whether you like it or not. While the style may not be for everyone and, they did what seems like every colorway possibly, there was still interest as to whether or not the Future would be accepted with open arms by Jordan heads or, pushed to the curb like every other fusion.

After countless years of rumors, Michael Jordan exclusives and samples, the ‘Concord’ Air Jordan 11 was finally released as a low top. While it’s not a HUGE thing to many, it is something fans of this silhouette have been waiting for and hoping Jordan Brand would release to the public for eighteen years.

Nick Schonberger (@nschon)
Deputy Editor, Complex Media

Mixing Brands

2014 will be remembered as the year of toppled brand allegiance. NYC’s best sneaker style trend was the pairing of tapered adidas soccer pants and Jordans. The very notion of mixing brands seemed inconceivable in 2013. And, when Kanye was spotted hooping in Nike shorts and adidas Pure Boosts, discussion reached a feverish pitch. While comment sections decried ‘Ye’s look (rightfully so, he is, after all, a paid three stripes representative), his attire matched what’s been going on at street level. You don’t just see adi pants and Beaverton-born shoes; Tech Fleece and Tubulars were also common in the final months of the year.

Call it a casual revolution. Or, simply a final collective stance to WEAR WHAT YOU LIKE, but the real indicator of change is that there’s a seemingly new breadth of interest in peripheral brands too. During 2015 we witnessed Brooks Heritage collaborations sell out. We also enjoyed intrigue in multiple types of silhouettes—vintage running and hoops both finding space in people’s rotations.

In some respects, it can be all be attributed to fall out from the frenetic online release schedule. Sick of bots? Carve a fresh lane. Nobody will forget the lightening strike of the Yeezy. It proved the power of long-lead teasing and continually stoking of the hype fire. Similarly, the Supreme Foams created uproar.  Yet, as the year closes, these high profile releases reveal more frustration than celebration. And, as such, open the door to renewed interest in general release classics—Huaraches and Air Max TNs for example—balanced with a refreshed  enthusiasm in boutiques.

Is it a moment or a movement? Probably neither. If the pieces come together, the sneaker underground feel of the early 2000s might return. That’s a good thing. That’s a solid trend. And, that would truly be a moment worth celebrating.

Zac Dubasik (@getbuckets)
Managing Editor

NBA Pros Putting Performance Over Marketing

This year has seen two prominent Nike signature athletes abandon the shoes that were supposed to be the latest and greatest for previous or team-based models. How is it actually a positive thing? By LeBron James sparingly wearing the LeBron 12 and Kevin Durant not playing a full game in the KD 7 yet, both players made the conscious decision to put their bodies and their games ahead of the products they’re selling. And knowing that could impact their endorsements, and in turn — wallets, it’s commendable to see these athletes making decisions based purely on performance.

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