It’s a good time to be a sneaker designer, but a challenging one too. Relatively newer names, such as Li-Ning, are pushing sneaker silhouettes as far as they possibly can, transporting us to a distant sneaker future with their designs.
Sneaker designs have become so futuristic, that they now look fit for the cyber-punk-populated, barren plains of Mad Max or dystopian cityscapes of Blade Runner. But we’re not complaining.
A host of recent sneaker releases have arrived dressed in fire colorways that make them look like they’ve been used to traverse sandy, deserted roads by someone who trades robot scraps for a living. Who knows, though, such apocalyptic environments may be closer to our reality than we think.
Whether it’s Raf Simons’ new Cylon-21 Runner, Maison Margiela‘s Patchwork sneaker or Vivienne Westwood’s latest ASICS collab this selection shows the scope of the brave new world of footwear. It’s a world based around intricately detailed uppers, distressed luxury materials, and dusty colorways. At least look good when it all goes down in flames.
The Black Eyed Peas said it best when they said (and I’m paraphrasing): “Raf Simons is living in 3008, we’re all just living in 2000 and late.” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, don’t sleep on Raf Simons footwear. The adidas Ozweego took over a year to sell out everywhere but has become an absolute icon. The same could be true of Raf Simons’ Cylon-21.
Salomon’s XT-6, one of the brand’s most popular models, is technically made for trail-running, however, I can definitely see these bad boys running through the dusty plains of Mars.
Perhaps the most alien sneaker of this selection, the tank-like Li-Ning Titan Halo sneaker combines a sturdy upper with what looks like a traction beast of a sole. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a booster engine pop out of the heel.
Pre-distressed sneakers are nothing new, but these shoes look like you’ve been wearing them for several hundreds of years. So maybe you’re a time traveler, and that’s futuristic AF.
Y-3 manages to be incredibly low-key while still pushing the boundaries of design. This Sukui III sneaker is proof of that. I can just imagine someone stepping out of a flying car wearing these.
The GEL-Kayano 14 is technically a retro sneaker, which makes its futuristic appearance all the more impressive. The original dropped in 2008, an era when running shoes featured metallic detailing and were heavily inspired by futurism.
We‘re not ready for this. This is what the future is all about. Honestly, there’s not much more I can say about this one.
This list wouldn’t be complete without a HOKA ONE ONE inclusion. The performance running brand made a name for itself with its exaggerated and, frankly, futuristic sole units. The Mafate Speed 3 is no different.
Vivienne Westwood hides her ASICS GEL-Kayano 27 underneath a translucent shroud, which adds a level of mystery to the entire project and — in a galaxy far, far away — could serve as protection against the inter-galactic elements.