Controversy, shops galore, new blood mark a rollercoaster year for sneakers

Highs and lows in the sneaker world in 2022
Dec 31, 2022

IT’S BEEN a rollercoaster ride in the world of sneakers this past year.

Even back in August, Nike — the world’s biggest footwear company — admitted that its shoes were sitting in warehouses, and had to roll out the discounts to “liquidate excess inventory”. But the Swoosh rebounded back in November with one of the company’s biggest financial quarters in ten years, bucking financial predictions to cash in $13.2 billion in revenue.

Its biggest rival, adidas, faced a rockier road ahead. In its latest financial report, the Three Stripes said that a “recently settled legal dispute”, among other things, resulted in a dismal third quarter that saw a 86 percent drop in net income compared to last year.

We all have a pretty good idea what “recently settled dispute” adidas is talking about, so let’s use that to kick off our look back at the year that was in sneakers.


Ye, Kyrie controversies rocked both adidas and Nike

The controversy of the rapper formerly known as Kanye West is undoubtedly the biggest sneaker story of the past year. Ye’s Yeezy line is one of adidas’ biggest draws, and the company itself has estimated that it will lose around €250 million (or P14.9 billion) in income by dropping him. But the company had no choice, as Ye’s increasingly unhinged antics crossed the line into outright antisemitism and hate speech.

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Accusations of antisemitism were also volleyed at Kyrie Irving, who has had a signature shoe line with Nike since 2014. Irving stirred controversy in October by linking to an antisemitic book and film. In short order, the Swoosh dropped him from their roster, and will not be releasing the Kyrie 8.

Retail explosion in the Philippines

Following the opening of Jordan Manila in 2020 and adidas Brand Center in 2021, the footwear retail landscape in the Philippines is on a supersized roll. With multiple brands opening multiple stores, Pinoys looking to pick up kicks are spoiled for choice... at least if they live in or near Manila.

May was an especially busy month for sports brands as they all opened flagship stores one after the other.

Early that month, Nike revamped its existing Bonifacio Global City location to turn it into its biggest retail destination in the region. (In September, it also opened a Nike Rise concept store in Cebu.)



Meanwhile, the new-look NBA Store, now operated by Titan, returned to the retail landscape with a new flagship store in SM Megamall.

Then ANTA — aiming to penetrate deeper into the Philippine market by signing up more endorsers, sponsoring teams, and even creating a line of throwback jerseys for the collegiate — also opened its biggest store yet in SM North Edsa.


On that same day, Under Armour also cut the ribbon on its own flagship store at the SM Mall of Asia.

Reebok also got in the game, opening a new standalone store — the brand’s first under a new distributor — in SM Megamall last September.

Then, of course, this month, popular US shoe store Foot Locker broke ground on its first outpost in the Philippines.

Luka, Ja headline new generation

Luka Doncic was this year’s big signature shoe debut, beefing up the Jordan Brand line with a terrific debut in the versatile, agile Luka 1. But before the year ended, Ja Morant also publicly debuted his upcoming Ja 1 with Nike, which will be released early next year.



Meanwhile, Trae Young with adidas, LaMelo Ball with Puma, and Kawhi Leonard with New Balance also dropped the second edition of their sneakers this year.

On the local side, World Balance kept interest high on Scottie Thompson's ST1 by releasing limited drops of new colorways.

But even the old guard is looking ahead. When Nike announced the LeBron XX — James' first signature sneakers to debut as a low top — it emphasized that it was building it for the next generation of athletes.



Still, you can’t beat the classics, especially when it comes to the GOAT. Head to the year-end list of the biggest sneaker publications, and you’ll find one name that's on every major list: the Air Jordan 1 “Lost and Found”.

In its design, Nike leaned in on the shoe's heritage, bringing back the classic colorway in a deliberately weathered upper, ankle collar, and midsole. Even the box it comes in has painted-on cracks. According to Nike, "Jordan designers studied multiple pairs of original AJ1s in varying states of distress to capture the nuances of the shoe’s look."

In a year when Jordan Brand has already released the 37th iteration of the shoe, the attention to detail on the AJ1 "Lost and Found" could be seen as a statement about how sneakers will always have their ups and downs — but the classic ones? They'll remain forever.

This was, without a doubt, the sneaker of the year.


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