Posted on July 28 2020
GCH Sneaker Oracle Tom Honeybone reviews the best and most influential Nike SNKRS drops of 2020 so far
“We are not even through July yet and it feels like SNKRS has given us a years worth of heat”
With lines of lawn chairs piled up in front of stores turning into veritable tent cities, it seemed as though sneaker releases were spiraling out of control. Then, in 2015, Nike launched the SNKRS app and hope for proper sneaker-life balance was restored. SNKRS is a one-stop-shop for Nike’s most coveted releases. From Jordans to Nike SB Dunks, SNKRS is the one place that anyone can have a chance to purchase exclusive sneakers regardless of their location. No more waiting in lines for days or skipping school for the newest Jordans. With SNKRS, every release is accessible as long as you have a phone and a solid internet connection. (Note: Every release can be accessed on the app, but an actual purchase is far from guaranteed. Those L’s are just as prevalent as ever but now you can take them in the comfort of your home. But you already knew that.)
In the five years since SNKRS launched, it’s been the source of some absolutely legendary drops. 2020 is no exception. We’re not even through June, yet it feels as though SNKRS has given us a year’s worth of heat. Nike SB sent the Dunk hype out of Earth’s orbit with drops like the Chunky Dunky, and Jordan Brand once again extended Virgil’s history-making winning streak with the Off-White 5. With this much competition, choosing the best SNKRS releases was almost impossible. But based on unique background stories and resale performance on StockX, we ultimately narrowed the selections to ten.
Every relationship comes with tradeoffs, and sneaker releases are no different. In the years and decades before Nike’s SNKRS app, copping new kicks required major sacrifices. In the mid-90s, teenagers passionate about sneaker culture were torn between their love of sneakers and their commitment to school. To the average 15-year-old, that decision was a no brainer – it was better to skip class than miss the latest drop. Scoring an A+ in Ms. Frizzle’s biology class isn’t nearly as big a flex as the Air Jordan 11 Concord.
As absences multiplied, retailers started moving releases to Saturdays. Moving the release dates might have seemed like an easy solution to keep kids in school, but the rapid growth of sneaker culture was moving faster than the industry itself. Soon enough, showing up the morning of the release didn’t cut it. Those who wanted a chance to buy a pair of the newest Jordans or Dunks had to get in line a day in advance. Those days in advance turned to weeks and all of a sudden sneaker fanatics were dedicating their lives to get that next pair of sneakers.
DISCLAIMER: This article only covers Nike products dropped on SNKRS - we aren't looking at the Jordan Diors yet (we'll cover those later this month!)
10. Jordan 6 Retro DMP
Made up of the Jordan 6 Retro DMP and Jordan 11 Retro DMP, the original Defining Moments Package is the reason beloved Jordan packs like the New Beginnings and CDP exist. It was the first time Jordan sneakers ever released as a pack, a major milestone in Jordan Brand’s history. Now, for the first time since 2006, the Jordan 6 Retro DMP returned this spring on the SNKRS app in its original form. While it is strange to see this Jordan 6 arrive without its Jordan 11 counterpart, the execution in reviving the original design is spot on. Everything is on point with the Jordan 6 DMP, from the black nubuck upper to the gold dog-tag style hang tags.
9. Nike Sacai LD Waffle White Nylon
Although the Nike Sacai LD Waffle was arguably 2019’s sneaker of the year, it doesn’t mean it was perfect for everyone. There are some of us that simply do not like loud colorways and that is completely understandable. It’s not always easy to wear neon green shoes with a lot of different outfits if your style is low key. Luckily, the Nike Sacai LD Waffle White Nylon provides a solution to those who love the LD Waffle silhouette but aren’t a fan of vibrant colorways. The Sacai LD Waffle White Nylon ditches colorful mesh for blank nylon on the upper for a look that can go with any outfit. A more reserved Sacai Waffle was just what the world needed and the Nike SNKRS app came through to deliver.
8. Jordan 1 Retro High Royal Toe
Jumpman’s Black Toe theme is here to stay, and for good reason. Black Toe Jordan 1s, like the Shattered Backboard and Bred Toe, paved the way for recent non-OG colorways to become fan favorites. The latest iteration, the Jordan 1 High Royal Toe, pays homage to the OG Royal 1 and remixes the design with familiar Black Toe color-blocking. At a glance, the Royal Toe draws a close resemblance to the coveted Fragment 1, a shoe that resells for over ten times the price of the Royal Toe. If you aren’t trying to drop $3,000 on a pair of Fragments and missed out on the Royal Toes on SNKRS, now is the time to get your pair at a decent price before prices follow the pattern of most other Jordan 1s and start soaring.
7. Nike Dunk Low Syracuse
To celebrate 35 years of the Nike Dunk, Nike released the Nike Dunk Low Syracuse on SNKRS this spring in its original form. The Nike Dunk Low Syracuse debuted as part of the 1985 Nike College Color’s program, a program that delivered footwear in the school colors of 12 popular basketball programs allowing fans to support their favorite teams from head to toe. Prior to the Nike Dunk, basketball shoes were primarily white with minimal color and inspiration. When it first hit the market, Syracuse’s orange and white broke the mold for sneaker colorways and has carried its influence all the way to 2020.
6. Nike Air Zoom Spiridon Cage 2 Stussy Fossil
An early-2000s runner was given new life this spring when Nike and Stussy joined forces to release the Nike Air Zoom Spiridon Cage 2 Stussy Fossil. The Spridion Cage 2 was originally designed by legendary designer Steven Smith (now at Yeezy) and released as a Japanese exclusive in 2003. As more consumers saw the street appeal of this performance sneaker, the popularity of the Spiridon Cage 2 swept the world, ushering in a new wave of tech runner-centric style.
Today’s sneaker trends have drawn a lot of inspiration from turn-of-the-century footwear design. Stussy choosing to bring back the Spridion Cage 2 with Nike couldn’t have occurred at a better time and demand for the shoe proves it. The Spiridon Cage 2 sold out instantly on the Nike SNKRS app and at select retailers upon release, besting all expectations. The hype surrounding Stussy Spiridon was a total surprise, and for that, we believe it makes a strong case to be one of the best SNKRS releases of the year so far.
5. Nike Dunk Low Plum
Earlier this spring, SNKRS offered the first-ever global release of the Nike Dunk Low Plum. The Plum colorway originally released in 2001 as part of the Nike CO.JP “Ugly Duckling” Pack and has never seen a retro. For those unfamiliar, Nike CO.JP is an ongoing project that delivers new colorways of popular silhouettes exclusively to Japan. Nike started bringing back CO.JP colorways on a global scale last fall with the Dunk Low Viotech. Now for the first time in almost 20 years, the Nike Dunk Low Plum is back and considered one of the best SNKRS releases of the year.
4. Nike Air Max 270 React Travis Scott Cactus Trails
This year marks the fourth year in a row that Travis Scott has had his imprint on one of the top SNKRS releases. We have seen Air Force 1s, Jordans, an SB Dunk, and now for the first time, an Air Max. The Nike Air Max 270 React Travis Scott brings a breath of fresh air to Travis Scott’s Nike catalog. After so many successful lifestyle models (and one not-so-popular Jordan 28), it is good to see that there is a collaborative Nike performance model that is getting major love.
3. Jordan 5 Retro Off-White Black
When it comes to Jordan collaborations, Virgil Abloh rarely disappoints. The first three Off-White Jordan 1s have become some of the most expensive Jordans to ever release on the Nike SNKRS app, and now, the Jordan 5 Retro Off-White Black is a competitor for sneaker of the year.
The Jordan 5 Off-White draws its inspiration from the OG Metallic 5 colorway, the first Jordan that Virgil Abloh ever owned. When it was first released in 1990, the Jordan 5 was designed for the future, so Abloh made only minimal adjustments, but enough to create a new dialogue out of the original design. One of the key additions was the cut-away circular inserts throughout the upper. This unique DIY detail encourages wearers to customize their shoes to let the “air” flow in. To keep it two Virgils with you, as long as Abloh keeps releasing Jordans he will always have a spot on our list of the best SNKRS releases.
2. Nike SB Dunk Low Strangelove
SB colorway virtuoso and illustrator Todd Bratrud connected with legendary graphic artist Sean Cliver to shine a light on the current state of Nike SB with the Nike SB Dunk Low Strangelove. In the past, SB Dunk hype was centered on Nike SB’s release catalog from 2002-2012. SB Dunks from that decade have always been held in higher regard than those that have released in the last five years, hitting at the perfect moment of skate culture mainstreaming and the broadening popularization of sneaker culture. Then Valentine’s Day 2020 rolled around and the tides changed. The Nike SB Dunk Low Strangelove dropped and instantly became one of the most coveted SNKRS releases to date.
Velour and suede uppers, icy translucent outsoles, and mesmerizing Sean Cliver illustrations have converted this SB Dunk Low from a skate shoe to a piece of art, and recent resale prices can attest to this. Within the last month, the Strangelove has averaged resale prices over $1,000 and keeps rising in value. Hype from this Nike SB Dunk Low has carried into following releases like the Chunky Dunky, igniting a Dunk-fueled inferno that hasn’t burned this hot since the mid-2000s.
1. Nike SB Dunk Low Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Dunky
The Nike SB Dunk Low Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Dunky has been without a doubt the best SNKRS release of 2020, and arguably the biggest shoe to come from Nike since the Jordan 1 High Travis Scott. The pairing of Nike SB and Ben & Jerry’s is a dream collaboration turned into reality. Both companies have a reputation for thinking outside of the box, and the Chunky Dunky is a testament to their creativity.
As a result, the Chunky Dunky has made tidal waves on StockX in the weeks following its release. In week one alone, the Chunky Dunky averaged resale prices of $1600 with over 1,000 sales. Not even the ultra-exclusive Travis Scott SB Dunk inspired that kind of demand. The Chunky Dunky is a culmination of the SB Dunk Mania 2.0 that has swept the sneaker world over the last year. We’re excited to see where it stacks up against shoes like the Paris Dunk.
1+. BONUS: Jordan 4 Retro Off-White Sail
Jordan Brand and Virgil Abloh teamed up once again to release the third silhouette in their collaborative history with the Jordan 4 Retro Off-White Sail (W). After teasing the release of the Off-White 4 with samples in his MCA exhibit and presenting them in his Off-White FW2020 Women’s Show, Virgil Abloh finally delivered what might be the most anticipated release of 2020.
The Air Jordan 4 Sail features full-grain leather uppers with hits of mesh and translucent materials on the toebox and heel of the shoe. From there, hits of light blue on the tongue’s Jumpman and the outsole’s Nike Swoosh provide contrast to the sail colored sneaker.
With an ultra-refined color scheme, familiar pieces like Helvetica text, new embellishments like a sail zip tie and a technical “Revealing”-style build, the “Sail” has garnered near-universal acclaim. It’s one of. if not the most hyped releases of the year.
Tom Honeybone has worked in the sneaker industry for over 20 years. Formely a brand ambassador for Nike, he has since worked for Adidas and was a major part of the Yeezy collaborations before moving to Stock X as a lead verifier. He is currently head of verification and purchasing at GCH, sourcing and verifying stock whilst also developing the strategic vision of the company alongside his other collaborations in both the UK and US.