Salehe Bembury's Bold New Balance 2002R Leads the Way in This Week's Best Footwear Drops

If we had to describe this week’s slate of footwear drops in one word, it would be “varied.” There’s a delightfully diverse assemblage of collaborations both new and familiar, fresh takes on classic styles and much more. However, before we get into the dozen best styles releasing over the next seven days, let’s take a primer on what went down last week.

Bootleg-style Air Jordan 1s and Nike Dunks have had their moments in the spotlight over the course of the year, but the Swoosh took a first step in cracking down on them — putting the L in Warren Lotas by suing the designer for massive damages due to his Jason Vorhees-Swooshed interpretations of the Nike SB Dunk. Of course that wasn’t the only piece of Dunk news: we were given a look at an atmos-inspired SB Dunk Low “Elephant” and a Reese Forbes-esque SB Dunk Low “Wheat.” YOON of AMBUSH teased Cactus Plant Flea Market’s Dunk Low and Nike premiered its The Story of Dunk docu-series, exploring the ever-popular silhouette’s rise to omnipotence.

On the Jordan Brand front, collaborations and in-line styles alike made noise. Official images of the Off-White™ x Air Jordan 5 “Sail” surfaced, which usually indicates an impending release — though nothing has been confirmed by Nike. Michael Jordan’s first signature sneaker had a trifecta of newsworthy moments as well, namely official images of the Air Jordan 1 CO.JP “Midnight Navy” appearing, an official release date for the Air Jordan 1 “Black Mocha” being announced and Travis Scott teasing a collaborative Air Jordan 1 “Cactus Jack Reverse.”

Apart from the OW AJ5s, Virgil Abloh continued to dominate the headlines with a detailed look at Lucien Clarke’s Louis Vuitton skate shoe and another glimpse at the upcoming Off-White™ x Nike Zoom Tempo NEXT%. Virgil’s old boss Kanye West got in on the action as well with adidas YEEZY 1020 and 1050 V3 boot samples, and Virgil/Kanye compatriot Tremaine Emory made an impact with the announcement of his Denim Tears x Converse Chuck 70 collaboration.

Rounding things off were official images of two sacai x Nike Vaporwaffle colorways, KAWS’ custom-doodled sacai x Nike LDWaffles to benefit Free Arts NYC, LaMelo Ball joining PUMA Hoops and the appearance of three more Nike styles: UNDEFEATED’s Kobe Protro 5 “Hall of Fame,” the latest Air Force 1 “Skeleton” and the revival of the seminal Air Max 90 “Infrared.”

Now that you’re all caught up, see a dozen of the week’s best drops below, note that any drops may be pushed back due to the continued effects of the coronavirus and head over to HBX to check out other new footwear styles.

Feng Chen Wang x Converse Chuck 70

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Release Date: October 20 (Converse)/October 22 (Global)
Release Price: $1,399 HKD (approximately $180 USD)
Where to Buy: Converse and HBX
Why You Should Cop: Want to talk bang for your buck? Feng Chen Wang and Converse’s chopped-up Chuck 70s are basically two shoes in one. With doubly thick split midsoles, dual-layered uppers, two colorways and plenty of unique detailing, FCW’s latest collaborative effort is somehow both intricate and visceral.

Jaden Smith x New Balance Vision Racer “Surplus”

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New Balance

Release Date: October 21 (Greenhouse)/October 23 (Foot Locker)
Release Price: $150 USD
Where to Buy: Greenhouse and Foot Locker
Why You Should Cop: Sustainability has always been front and center on Jaden Smith and New Balance’s Vision Racer, but the “Surplus” takes things up a notch with uppers built fully from excess synthetic leather and mesh. Due to the unique materials used no two pairs are exactly the same, ensuring each is a true one-of-one style with asymmetrical colorblocking and unique detailing.

GmbH x ASICS GEL-Quantum 360 6

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Release Date: October 21
Release Price: $200 USD
Where to Buy: HBX
Why You Should Cop: If you think about it, the ASICS GEL-Quantum 360 line basically serves as GmbH’s signature models — this three-pack of new GEL-Quantum 360 6 styles marks the German creatives’ third batch of Quantum collabs in 2020. Here, the high-tech lifestyle sneaker boasts asymmetrical colorblocking and material placement, making for a trifecta of colorways that run the gamut from wild (the multi-color) to relatively mild (the white/cream/gold). This marks the collaboration’s global release after a GMBH-exclusive drop in recent weeks.

Supreme x Nike Air Max Plus

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Release Date: October 22
Release Price: $180
Where to Buy: Nike SNKRS
Why You Should Cop: Yes, the Supreme x Nike Air Max Plus collection is back. If you missed out on the Supreme drop last week, you’ll have another shot at the red/black and green/blue/orange pairs — but you’ll want to be quick as they’re sure to speed off of virtual shelves once again.

Salehe Bembury x New Balance 2002R

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New Balance/Salehe Bembury/Ron Holden

Release Date: October 23
Release Price: $150 USD
Where to Buy: New Balance and HBX
Why You Should Cop: Salehe Bembury is a tenured footwear designer with stints at Greats, Cole Haan, adidas YEEZY and Versace (his current job) under his belt, but this week marks the release of his first ever sneaker collaboration: a New Balance 2002R. With a rich orange-based palette inspired by Arizona’s Antelope Canyon and a “Peace Be the Journey” theme drawing from his daily hikes, Salehe’s new NBs are one of the Boston-based brand’s most interesting releases of the fall season.

COMME des GARÇONS x Nike Air Force 1 Mid

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Dover Street Market

Release Date: October 23
Release Price: $270 USD
Where to Buy: Dover Street Market
Why You Should Cop: COMME des GARÇONS has taken the old “the mid is selling” adage to heart, teaming with Nike for two special takes on the Air Force 1 Mid. Though mid-cuts are the proverbial black sheep of the Air Force 1 family, CdG has spruced both white and black pairs up by adding rough-hewn extra pieces around the seams — making for a look that’s at once unfinished and deconstructed.

Air Jordan 12 “Black Concord”

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Release Date: October 23
Release Price: $190 USD
Where to Buy: Nike SNKRS and Foot Locker
Why You Should Cop: The Air Jordan 12 “Black Concord” takes a beloved Jordan Brand color scheme and gives it a bold new twist, mixing a stark black base with kingly, chromed-out purple accents. Both elegant and sporty, it’s one of the standout new makeups from the Jumpman’s Holiday 2020 retro collection — one that’s versatile enough to delight both new and old Jordan Brand fans.

Palace x Reebok Classic Leather Pump

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Release Date: October 23 (Global)/October 24 (China/Japan)
Release Price: TBC
Where to Buy: Palace
Why You Should Cop: The masters of British irreverence at Palace are no stranger to cheeky collaborations, and for their latest effort they’ve brought Reebok’s Pump technology to the Classic Leather for the first time ever. In Palace’s own words, “For years, they told us it was impossible. But we didn’t listen. Because at Palace, we had a vision: the Reebok Classic, with a Pump on it.”

Nike ISPA Road Warrior “Clear Jade”

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Release Date: October 23
Release Price: $500 USD
Where to Buy: Nike SNKRS
Why You Should Cop: Nike ISPA’s Road Warrior is back in all its technical, high-priced glory with a new “Clear Jade” makeup. Though the striking silhouette and high price point may scare the casual sneaker fan away, the Road Warrior was designed for the adventurous footwear fan, and rewards those brave enough to try it out with stacked Zoom cushioning, a ski boot-like fit system, a Tabi toe and much more.

adidas YEEZY BOOST 350 V2 “Natural”

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Release Date: October 24
Release Price: $220 USD
Where to Buy: adidas and YEEZY Supply
Why You Should Cop: Kanye West’s new adidas YEEZY BOOST 350 V2 “Natural” discarded its biblical “Abez” moniker to avoid getting into religion-related hot water. However, its style is still undeniably heavenly thanks to a mixture of angelic white tones and pious brown shades. Assuming its release is confirmed by adidas, it’s an undeniably clean addition to West’s ever-expanding footwear lineup

1017 ALYX 9SM x Nike Air Force 1 High

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Release Date: October 24
Release Price: TBC
Where to Buy: Nike SNKRS
Why You Should Cop: Matthew M. Williams first premiered his rollercoaster buckle-equipped Nike Air Force 1 High collaborations at 2018’s HYPEFEST and then released them exclusively via a Paris pop-up in January, but now they’re set for a full retail debut. Aside from the aforementioned buckle, the shoes offer gold detailing and ultra-supple leather construction, making for a true high fashion take on one of the Swoosh’s most classic styles.

Pharrell x adidas NMD Hu “Human Race” Pack

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Release Date: October 25
Release Price: $220 USD
Where to Buy: adidas
Why You Should Cop: Pharrell and adidas have revived the NMD Hu this fall after spending several seasons focusing on the Hu Trail, and now the sleek silhouette is back in a new “Human Race” three-pack. All three pairs spell out “Human Race” on their uppers in either Chinese or Korean, and each has a different release protocol: the blue-green pair will be available globally through the adidas webstore, while the gray pair is exclusive to the CONFIRMED app in North America and the white pair will only be available in the Asia-Pacific region.
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