This story is part of our end-of-year series This Year in Gear, rounding up the most notable releases of 2022. For more stories like this, click here.
This year, the footwear industry felt chaotic: new designers made their debuts at legacy brands; storied brands introduced new silhouettes; behemoths embraced the past; unexpected duos dropped must-have collabs. A lot happened, and it's visually represented in the below boots, sneakers and shoes — from playful twists on staples to potential new ones, these were the most noteworthy releases of the year.
Bodega x Suicoke Kaw "One of One"
Made from denim, not nylon or polyester, Bodega's collaborative Suicoke sandals will break in with constant wear, creating distressing and stains you'd typically only see on jeans. They're an alternative take on a style we've seen a number of times before — refreshing.
Air Force 1 Low Retro (COTM)
The Air Force 1 almost met its end in the early '80s, less than three years after they first launched. But three Baltimore retailers brought the silhouette back to life by negotiating a "Color of the Month" plan, where they'd produce a new colorway each month until the collab ended. This turned the AF1 into the ideal blank canvas. This COTM Air Force 1 Low Retro pays homage to this marketing effort. Its color? Brown.
Stefan Cooke Martlett Derby Shoes
I'm historically anti-square toes. They're unflattering, clunky and generally a style I tell men to avoid. Designer Stefan Cooke has changed my mind, though, with his embellished Martlett Derby Shoes, which definitely have square toes.
Air Jordan 12 Low Golf Shoes
Nike continues to tweak its most popular silhouettes for the golf course. Now, after recently converting the Jordan 1, it's the Jordan 12, albeit as a low-top. Take to the greens in style.
Koio Milo Boot
Koio is known for its sneakers, but the Milo Boot, a new, all-leather work boot is no slouch. It's comfortable, fairly affordable and well-suited for the workplace — or a night out.
Cat Footwear x Nigel Cabourn Omaha Boot
I'll be honest... this was an unexpected collab. Cat is, well, Cat, and Nigel Cabourn is a celebrated solo designer that moonlights as a menswear archaeologist. But Cat has had quite the past year, considering its collabs regularly sell out. They offer a blank canvas for its collaborators, which means you get some interesting stuff — like the Omaha Boot, a nod to vintage standard issue US Navy boots. Cabourn has collected quite a few, and they influenced these, which come with a canvas upper that references boots made from the materials in the 1940s. There's an industrial touch, too: the rubber toe cap.
Dr. Martens Smiths Hair On Leopard Print Shoes
How much hair is too much hair? Dr. Martens's printed leopard shoes beg this question. Made from genuine hair and leather, this new derby-like lace-up comes with some serious texture — a statement-making addition that's perfect for the current era of fun suiting.
Sky High Farm Workwear x BOGS Worker Boots
The Hudson Valley's nonprofit Sky High Farm inspired a workwear brand, Sky High Farm Workwear. This collab with BOGS places its recognizable logo — the strawberry moon — onto the outside of the brand's popular waterproof boot.
Rimowa x Adidas NMD_S1 Sneaker
Rimowa and Adidas collaborated on a clever backpack — it looks a lot like a Rimowa carry-on, but with straps — but the true star of the joint collection was this version of Adidas's popular NMD_S1 sneaker.
Notre x Converse Chuck 70
Notre's custom Converse Chuck 70 might've flown under the radar amidst myriad iterations that dropped the same month, but it's impressive nonetheless. The texture; the colors; these are killer.
NikeCraft General Purpose Shoe
Tom Sachs says his original NikeCraft collab, the Mars Yard, helped usher in the new era of sneakers, where hype is king and quality comes second. Now, though, with his new General Purpose Shoe, he wanted to take the "idea of ‘your favorite pair of jeans’" and "make shoes that have that workwear quality," he told Esquire. They'll eventually be available in a bunch of colors and mass quantities.
Unmarked Archie Boot
Although Unmarked's Archie Boot isn't new, this version, which has a Biltrite Sole an glazed pull-up leather uppers, of it is. Although I've always liked the black or more basic brown iterations, this one really commands your attention.
A Ma Manieré x Jordan Brand Air Ship
A Ma Manieré's Jordan collabs are always a sight to behold. They're typically beautiful, of course, but also simple and with a story to tell. The Air Ship is no exception, but it's limited to 2,300 numbered editions.
Viberg Rockland Blucher
Viberg's Autum/Winter 2022 collection features a number of designs I'm desperate to own — even if it's at the expense of my savings. Example #1: the Viberg Rockland Blucher, a lace-up shoe that looks and feels like a boot.
Filson x Xtratuf Legacy Lace Boots
Filson and Xtratuf's best-selling lace up boots are back. Combine the outdoor prowess of Filson with Xtratuf's workwear expertise and you get a boot that's as hard-wearing as it is protective. It's slip- and chemical-resistant, waterproof and built with enhanced arch support.
SeaVees x Jeff Johnson Beyond And Back CVO Boot
Part sneaker, part boot, SeaVees's Beyond And Back CVO Boot with adventure photographer Jeff Johnson features a high-top collar, thick outsole and long run of metal eyelets. It's super breathable but will totally work late into fall.
MSCHF, fresh off several lawsuits, is planning its most PC release yet: a candy-inspired sneaker with Jimmy Fallon called the Gobstomper. It's a skate shoe with several layers, which poke through as the shoe breaks down.
Garbstore x Padmore & Barnes Cow Print Side Seam Mules
A collaboration between Garbstore and Padmore & Barnes yielded several different slip-on styles — including this Cow Print mule. Each one is handmade in Portugal from Spanish cow leather, classic crepe soles and silver hardware.
G.H. Bass x Fred Perry Lincoln Chain Loafer
G.H. Bass's collab with fashion brand Fred Perry resulted in a bunch of loafers with elevated, albeit edgy, accents. Take the Lincoln Chain Loafer, for example, a black shoe with a bulkier sole and a big link across its tongue. There's also a tartan liner and gold-foil logo work.
Salomon XT-6 'Apricot'
Salomon's XT-6 is by no means new. It's everywhere, but I'm surprisingly still OK with it — especially this interesting Apricot colorway.
New Balance Made in USA 990v3
Teddy Santis, the founder of Aimé Leon Dore, was named creative director of New Balance Made in USA last year. His first collection arrived this year, and fans of both him and the brand are understandably excited. Classic gray versions of the 990v3, 990v2 and 990v1 are a part of the drop, but so too are sweatshirts, sweat shorts and tees.
Todd Snyder Nomad Boot
This is Todd Snyder's first-ever original footwear design. The brand has always stocked interesting options from other brands, and collaborated on pairs that better fit their aesthetic, but this is the first time the brand designed and manufactured footwear on its own. The Nomad Boot, inspired by neighborhood the brand's flagship store calls home, is basically a chukka, with its short lace stack, mid-height collar and rubber sole.
Adidas Moss Side
Covered in a mix of colors stolen from the forest floor, the Adidas Moss Side is made from a mix of recycled materials and finished with a natural hemp liner. It's a sustainable twist on a sneaker that stays true to its era (the 1970s).
Bodega x Hoka One One Kaha Low GTX
Hoka One One makes incredible footwear. Running shoes, hikers, slides, you name it. And they're all super comfortable. Combine the plush ride with Bodega's eye for colors and materials? Amazing. This is one of the better outdoor sneakers released this year.
Air Jordan 3 Muslin
This Jordan 3 is inspired by Michael Jordan's durability. They made the uppers from hard-wearing cotton canvas; the midsole is aged like its old; and the accents are a color called Cement Grey.
New Balance CT302
New Balance introduced an all-new sneaker silhouette this year. Dubbed the CT302, it's womens-first, but that doesn't mean you won't see it on the feet of many, many men. It's more of a lifestyle option, with its chunky sole, puffy logo and padded collar.
Nike NOCTA Hot Step Air Terra
We've entered the era of celebrity signature shoes. NOCTA, Drake and Nike's ongoing collaboration, is releasing its first sneaker, the Hot Step Air Terra, which mixes influences from several former Nike sneakers and the brilliance of freelance designer Jeremy Karl (who did Arc'teryx's System_A line).
JJJJound New Balance MADE 990v3
JJJound designer Justin Saunders is back with another New Balance collab. This time he applied his elevated aesthetic to the popular MADE 990v3, an American-made staple in NB's catalog.
Adidas x Packer Forum 84 Hi
Packer is back with another adidas collab. This time they've taken the project to new heights (pun intended). Instead of opting for one of adidas' low-top silhouettes, Packer reimagined the Forum 84 Hi, a vintage-tinged high-top with "varsity" themes.
Paraboot x HIP Michael
A collaboration between Paraboot and retailer HIP, this dual-toned version of the popular Michael shoe features a leather front and a suede heel.
3Sixteen x Blackstock & Weber The Crepe Wedge Loafer
There's been a synergy between 3Sixteen and Blackstock & Weber since the latter launched. But now, the mutual respect manifests as a collaborative loafer dubbed The Crepe Wedge Loafer. It has, as expected, a crepe wedge sole and Charles F. Stead-made light brown suede uppers.