Sneaker Partnerships To Watch in 2023

December 23, 2022 by Joey Birch

Sneaker Partnerships To Watch in 2023

As we edge ever closer to the end of the year, we enter a stage of reflection going over the previous 12 months. This year has seen the creation, continuation and destruction of what was and could be incredible partnerships. 

Below are some of the key sneaker collaborations to keep an eye on going into 2023: 

What is the future of adidas x YEEZY? - Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have seen some form of Kanye West’s recent actions that have led to the artist's perilous fall from grace. As with almost everything West does, the impact sent a shockwave throughout the industry. As a result, we saw the end of one of the biggest sneaker partnerships in history.

Throughout 2022, adidas began releasing designs that looked strangely similar to the YEEZY Foam Runner and Slides, with Ye lashing out over the similarities. With hindsight, it seems that the Three Stripes may have been preparing to cut ties ahead of time. 

While many questioned whether adidas should have acted sooner following West’s ‘White Lives Matter’ t-shirt during Paris Fashion Week or during his various social media sagas, the deal was eventually cut off by adidas on the 25th of October. But to what extent? 

Despite officially closing the deal, adidas confirmed that they would continue to sell YEEZY products going forward into 2023. At the time of writing, reports have emerged via Reddit that confirm a return of the widely beloved YEEZY Boost 350 V2, now simply known as the ‘350 V2’, without the YEEZY branding attached. 

With adidas owning the patents to all of the most popular YEEZY models, they are technically within their right to continue to release the product as they see fit. With the 350 V2 ‘Granite’ rumoured to release as soon as January, time will tell whether continuing production is a wise idea. 

Will we see a full return of Kobe? - Following the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant in 2020, production of his sneakers was widely put on hold with the deal between the Bryant estate and Nike being thrown into headlines after the initial deal formed between Bryant and Nike in 2016 following his retirement broke down following his passing apparently due to a myriad of reasons including Nike pushing back on plans to offer a lifelong deal for Bryant’s line, similar to that of Jordan Brand, in addition to Nike continuing to release exclusive numbers of Kobe sneakers despite the huge increase in popularity.

While adidas opted to continue to release Kobe silhouettes without the players name attached, most recently the controversial Crazy 1s, Kobe fans were elated to hear the confirmation that Nike and the Bryant estate had come to a new long-term deal after the expiration of the previous one in 2021, thanks to Vanessa Bryant’s incredible work.

Following the official announcement in March, Nike honoured Gigi Bryant with the return of Kobe 6 Protro ‘Mambacita Sweet 16’. With Kobe Bryant being one of the greatest basketball players of all time, it makes sense that Nike should continue to honour his memory for years to come. 

As of yet, we are yet to see what Nike have in store for the ongoing Kobe collection outside of confirming the return of his signature models. However, 2023 is sure to change that.

What’s next for New Balance? - Determining who the brand of the year is can come with its challenges. Once again, it feels that Nike continue its reign for another year, however, there are other contenders coming for the top spot including ASICS and Salomon who have both produced exceptional projects garnering them the limelight they rightly deserve. 

Nevertheless, it’s New Balance that undoubtedly takes the second spot if not the top. Throughout the last three years, NB has been injecting well-made products and even better collaborations into the market, continually raising the bar as to what brands can and should be producing. 

Year after year, New Balance grows stronger with the release of Teddy Santis’ first collection following his appointment in 2021 in addition to launching the next silhouette in the highly converted 990 series. However, it can be argued that Joe Freshgoods should be accredited for putting New Balance on the track record it's been experiencing, with 2020 marking the debut of his first project utilising the 992, in addition to an incredible offering from WTAPS, which set into motion a slew of projects that ticked every box from storytelling to innovative design and impeccable materials thanks to NB’s Made In USA. 

Despite the seemingly unrivalled success the duo have been showcasing, all good things must come to an end. Following the release of the three-pair ‘Performance Art’ pack, JFG confirmed that the partnership between the duo was coming to an end. So the question stands, who will take over the mantle? 

We’ve seen Stray Rats, Patta and Levis step up to the plate and produce incredible projects, but none that have caused an impact on the level of Joe Freshgoods. Whatever the case, 2023 is set to be another exciting year for the brand.

Will we see an adidas x Fear Of God release? - In 2021, prior to the issues that adidas faced with YEEZY, the Three Stripes announced that Jerry Lorenzo’s Fear Of God would be the driving force behind their adidas Basketball athletic line. However, little to no product has been shown off apart from a yellow hoodie seen being worn by Lorenzo in December 2021. 

Following the termination of the deal between YEEZY and adidas which saw the brand’s profits drop by around 50 million dollars, it seemed that they’d fill the gap with the yet-to-arrive FOG partnership the two parties had been cooking up in the wings. 

That was until the 2nd of December this year following the teaser for adidas’ first basketball-centric collection which many assumed involved Lorenzo and Fear Of God. However, this was not the case as confirmed in a statement released on the FOG Athletics official Instagram account stating: “Jerry Lorenzo and Fear of God are not involved or connected to the adidas Basketball ‘Remember The Why’ campaign and collection”, then going onto suggest that the arrangements had changed, saying: “The partnership between Jerry Lorenzo and adidas has evolved over the past two years”

Just how the partnership has ‘evolved’ is not yet clear, however, the statement seemed to suggest that both parties would continue to collaborate with each other whilst remaining separate entities. The proposition of an adidas collection directed by Jerry Lorenzo is certainly an enticing one, especially following the popularity surrounding FOG’s ‘Essentials’ line in addition to the space that the departure of YEEZY has left behind. 

As the statement confirmed, we will know more in early 2023.

What to expect from Nocta x Nike - Drake and Nike are no strangers to each other, after all, he pledged allegiance to the Swoosh with this ‘checks over stripes’ lyric following the breakdown of his partnership with adidas, going as far as to remark ‘fuck adidas’ on the track ‘Broke Boys’ this year.

Considering the Toronto natives catelogue of Nike and Jordan Brand collaborations, it made sense that his apparel brand Nocta worked with Nike, curating Drake’s first signature silhouette, the Air Hot Step Terra in addition to a special pair of Air Force 1s that were first teased around the release of Certified Lover Boy in September 2021. It’s safe to say that both projects were met with positive acclaim, especially the Air Force 1 which featured a premium, supple tumbled leather in addition to a range of signature details including love hearts to replace the stars and ‘Love You Forever’ where the ‘Nike Air’ text is usually found. 

At the time of writing, there have not been any further releases confirmed. However, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to assume that a Jordan Brand project could be in the works considering the history between both parties. 

Which Nike silhouette will Travis Scott touch next? - The collaborative work between Travis Scott and Nike has been converted more than enough times, with new colourways of fan favourite silhouettes landing almost every other month at this point, the latest example being the ‘Phantom’ colourway of the Air Jordan 1 Low. 2022 has felt almost like a victory lap for Scott with Jordan Brand releasing both the 'Reverse Mocha’ and ‘Phantom’ variants of the Air Jordan 1 Low in addition to two colourways of the Nike Air Max 1 and Air Trainer 1

With reports suggesting that next year's ‘Olive Swoosh’, which will mark the 7th variant of the Air Jordan 1 the artist has produced, will be the last AJ1, how will Scott proceed? We’ve seen the serial collaborator work on a vast number of Nike silhouettes from the Air Jordan 1 to the Air Trunner all with little breathing room in between. 

With the confirmation of the OG Nike Mac Attack returning in 2023, along with images of Scott wearing the original colourway, could this suggest his next project? Perhaps we’ll see a Cactus Jack Air Foamposite or Penny 2? Also, when is 'Butterfly Effect' dropping? So many questions we need to be answered in 2023.

Can Sean Wotherspoon top the Air Max 1/97 with adidas? - Sean Wotherspoon is the mastermind behind the highly beloved Nike Air Max 1/97 as part of Nike’s ‘On Air’ contest in 2018. Despite additional colourway options being revealed by Wotherspoon, no further projects were released by the duo. After releasing a three-way collaboration between atmos and ASICS on the Gel Lyte III in 2020, the founder of Round Two penned a long-term deal with adidas the same year, kicking things off with the Superstar as part of his Super Earth collection featuring vegan leathers and eco-friendly materials. 

Despite releasing a range of silhouettes within the Super Earth collection, the duo seemingly haven’t been able to create the same buzz that was originally felt with the Air Max 1/97, until recent images of Wotherspoon's upcoming releases suggested otherwise. 

Over the last couple of months, images have emerged from Wotherspoon of the latest projects he and adidas have been working on, including the Orketro and Gazelle models which are getting fans excited. 

Following the release of the Gucci Gazelle this year, it appears that the Three Stripes are gearing up to revitalise and push them alongside the Samba which has equally made its way back into the Instagram fit pic rotation. 

Will Sean Wotherspoon top the Nike Air Max 1/97? Right now, it’s looking promising. 


To find out the answers to all the above questions posed, make sure to keep it Kick Game