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The Best Footwear Releases of 2021

Where we were headed and who we were going to see influenced footwear more than anything these past 12 months.

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Gear Patrol

This story is part of our end-of-year series This Year in Gear, rounding up the most notable releases of 2021.


The footwear we gravitate toward each morning typically defines the day ahead: Boots if you plan to brunt cold or questionable terrain; Sneakers if you're doing a lot of walking; Loafers if you're headed into the office or to a luxurious lunch; and so on and so forth. But footwear can also be purely fun, a striking form of self-expression. The 20 best boots, sneakers and shoes released in 2021 emphasize both form and function. Find them below.

GANT x Diemme Roccia Vet Boots

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GANT's collaborative Diemme boots come with colorful mud guards. You can choose from Persimmon Orange, Peacock Pink or Black, but they all have the same brown leather upper. Think: rugged yet fun.

Price: $405

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Blundstone x Finisterre

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These Blundstone boots are made from onMicro, an animal-free, water- and abrasion-resistant material that looks a whole hell of a lot like leather. Made in collaboration with Finisterre, folks in the UK and EU have exclusive access.

Price: $216

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Brain Dead x Asics Trabuco Max

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I'm anti-unnecessary collabs. I'm into cool, unexpected ones (from companies within the same industry, typically). Like Brain Dead and Asics. They made this new shoe, the Trabuco Max, which looks like its made from the skin of several different types of extraterrestrial life. It's a spooky season running sneaker.

Price: $160

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L.L. Bean x Todd Snyder Bean Boots

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L.L. Bean and venerable American designer Todd Snyder are back for a sequel to their co-branded collab from last year. There's more of the same, but also just more. From sweaters to tees, shorts, pants, jackets, bags, and boots, there's something for everyone. I especially like these Bean Boots, refreshed with new colors, materials, and tongue logos.

Price: $319

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Social Status x Nike Free Lunch Dunks "Chocolate Milk"

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There's an incredible backstory embedded in Social Status x Nike's Free Lunch Dunks, a design by Whitaker Group owner James Whitner. Plus, there's a cinematic short to accompany the launch. Plus (plus), this is an all-new Nike silhouette, a rarity for retailer collaborations.

Price: $130+

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Stüssy x Birkenstock 1774 Boston Clogs

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Stüssy and Birkenstock are back with another collaboration. This time it comprises three different Boston clogs: pink ones, white ones, and these rich brown guys. Get them for the cooler weather (or the hot seasons).

Price: $179+

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Clarks Desert Boot Brown Vegan

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Say hello to an all-new Desert Boot. The iconic silhouette's been reimagined with an innovative vegan-friendly brown microfiber. Ditching leather, Clarks turned to material development teams for an alternative. The resulting boot is just as durable, plenty stylish, and a signal that similar advancements from other brands are sure to come.

Price: $150

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JJJJound Vans SK8-Mid

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Elusive designer Justin Saunders (aka JJJJound) has collaborated with Dr. Martens, New Balance, Reebok and now Vans, too. His trio of SK8-Mids come in black, brown, and green, but all are bound to sell out instantly. Best of luck buying a pair. You're probably better off monitoring resale prices on sites like StockX until you find something at least close to retail. That's the reality.

Price: $150+

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Levi's x New Balance 992 Sneaker (M992LV)

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Dubbed "Levi's For Feet," these New Balance sneakers are made from a mix of patchwork suede and authentic grey denim. Like the JJJJound New Balance 992s, these emphasize the popularity of NB's various shades of gray. Finished with the iconic Levi's pull tab logo, they're made in the US in extremely limited quantities.

Price: $699+

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Knickerbocker Huarache

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Think of these as the cross between a loafer and an open-toed sandal. For those who'd rather not flash their feet — at least not without charging a fee — these are for you. All jokes aside, these were produced in a way that upholds the huarache's history. "For the past year we have been working with a family-owned workshop in the Mexican region of Michoacán who has been producing huaraches for over 50 years," NYC-based brand Knickerbocker announced alongside the release.

Price: $120

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Blackstock & Weber The Mason Horse Bit Loafer in Emerald Croc

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We've been preaching about the practicality of loafers. And not the run-of-the-mill leather or suede ones, either. We're talking statement styles. Blackstock & Weber's new Emerald Croc horse bit loafers — see our guide to learn what that means — certainly make one.

Price: $325

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Yuketen Semi Handsewn Maine Guide DB - FO Quatro

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Yuketen's Maine Guide DB is the fully-loaded option, if you don't mind the car reference. I mean, just look at 'em. Italian leather comprises the midsole, rubber reinforces it and Vibram's new made-in-US 2021 sole tops it off. On top, it's silky, full-grain, flesh-out leather all over in four different hues, hence the Quatro in its name.

Price: $590

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Dr. Martens x Bodega 1461 Toe Cap Leather Oxfords

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This iteration of Doc Martens' 1461 shoe is their second collaboration with Bodega. Made from four different materials — pebble lamper, milled nubuck, suede and TecTuff — the all-weather Oxford arrives as a celebration of the silhouette's 60th anniversary. All of the subtle tweaks made this version an upgrade on the standard release, which, as evident by its enduring design, remains a popular style.

Price: $160

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Alife x Timberland Three-Eye Classic Handsewn Shoes

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New York-based label Alife — who closed their Rivington store this year — breathes new life into Timberland's lesser-known silhouette, rendering it interesting again. The brand's eco-conscious Better Leather is dyed a reddish hue designed to contrast the orange EVA midsole. Each pair is painstakingly sewn by hand and arrives with rugged tread we can all agree upon.

Price: $170

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Sebago x Engineered Garments Coverdeck Exotic

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The collab between Engineered Garments and Sebago offers a unique take on the brand's iconic moc-toe boat shoes. The styles feature suede or exotic stamped leather, chunky soles and unique closures.

Price: $380

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Keen x Garcia Yogui

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A portion of the sales from these comfortable shoes will be donated to The Wilderness Society’s ‘Protect the Tongass’ campaign. The comfortable Yogui model features Jerry Garcia’s art — either New York at Night or Banyan Tree — and the donation is a nod to Garcia’s earlier work supporting rainforest protection: the 1988 rainforest benefit concert at Madison Square Garden and his 1993 “Junglescape” painting.

Price: $90

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Salomon x Huckberry XT-6

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Salomon’s ultra-popular XT-6 shoes were originally built for ultramarathoner Kilian Jornet, but have also become popular in style circles (they were names sneaker of the year by GQ in 2019). This limited-edition color of the shoe features all the elements that made the original famous: dual-density EVA cushioning, an abrasion-resistant TPU film and durable mesh upper, a Quicklace system and a lugged sole.

Price: $220

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Vans Vault x Wacko Maria

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This collab with Tokyo-based label Wacko Maria features the iconic Vans OG Authentic LX with a vinyl record print in three colors. The shoes pay homage to the roots of the Japanese brand — the founder, Atushiko Mori, initially opened a bar in Tokyo called Rock Steady that spun records.

Price: $60

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Reebok x Margiela Tabi Classic Sneakers

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This is the ultimate ‘80s mash-up. The collab features elements from Reebok’s 1983 Classic Leather trainers and Maison Margiela’s 1988 Tabi boots — the split-toe design is immediately recognizable.

Price: $270

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Savas The Legend Boot: Gasoline

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Made by hand in the hills of Tuscany, The Legend boot features a vat-dyed kangaroo leather that’s lined with calf leather. It has a flexible leather sole. and almond-shaped two and a brass zip up the back.

Price: $825

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