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28th December 2022 EDT FEATURES

The Most Unique Sneakers of 2022

Love them or loathe them, this collection has one thing in common: it brings out the quirks to pump those sneaker game highs, and trust us, it's not an easy "feet."

The Most Unique Sneakers of 2022
The Most Unique Sneakers of 2022

By Hidayah Goh

These sneakers march to the sound of a different drum. Howbeit, categorizing a wild look is not the only thing that makes a pair one-of-a-kind; it has to break the mold of what is considered to be a standard silhouette.

Now, you might be wondering: Can personalization result in a more intimate narrative from a design standpoint? Despite the dozens of new releases, the bulk appear like run-of-the-mill silhouettes especially when sneakerheads yearn for even more individuality and creative approaches to their outfits. This demand has spawned a distinct customization culture that values symbolism, unusual materials, and idiosyncratic ideas that tell a captivating narrative.

From resin-based to pun-inspired footwear, here are the top 5 exceptionally unique sneakers of 2022, in no particular order.

1. Cecilie Bahnsen x ASICS

There is exquisite craftsmanship practiced in an ordinary day at Cecilie Bahnsen’s atelier. The Copenhagen fashion designer collaborated with Japanese sportswear brand ASICS for Paris Fashion Week SS23 to bring their contemporary take on femininity and Scandinavian simplicity.

What made the collection stand out from a design perspective is that these weren’t just any silhouettes in a fresh colorway, they were adorned with Bahnsen-inspired floral appliqués that instantly transformed the running shoes into garden haute couture.

The LVMH Prize finalist offers a narrative on the continuation of values trickled down from childhood that were intended to keep things from getting too serious, and add beauty to the surrounding turmoil. Moreover, in the domain of the whimsical, you could psychologically feel as though you are treading through flowerbeds.

Finding a common interest in mindfulness and movement, the two brands got out of the field and released 50 bespoke, hand-embellished pairs by the Cecilie Bahnsen team using couture components from previous lines, apropos to its upcycling theme.

2. Cactus Plant Flea Market x Nike Dunk Low “Grinch

Arriving as one of the most unusual and iconic designs in recent memory, Cactus Plant Flea Market and Nike delivered the Halloween-themed “Grinch”, stunning the sneaker world. Cynthia Lu, the founder of CPFM, channeled the Dunk Low silhouette with her own unique twist. Covering an overgrowth of green hair and an embroidered yin-yang emblem on the lateral midfoot, it’s a visual language to her signature and was perceived as a cultural identity stamp.

Right off the bat, this iteration is more outrageous than its elder sibling, let alone in sneaker history, and has successfully pushed the boundaries of sheer imagination to bold execution. The design ethos of CPFM is evident in a growing collection of sneakers, and literally a bed of overgrown shaggy hair.

3. BOTTER x adidas

If a shoe were to be an amphibian, this is it. The flipper-like pair seen at the SS23 BOTTER show, gives a futuristic take on the adidas Predator football boot. It garners our attention, on both the runway and the streets.

According to the brand, the shoes are a part of BOTTER’s “The Plastic Sea” collection, which intends to “explore the idea of bringing water to the runway.” Showing an elongated silhouette that detaches from the body like a wet suit, the pair gives off the impression that it’s smoothly floating in calm water.

In our extended interpretation, the exploration broadens the view of the long-standing problem with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which results in the ingestion, suffocation, or entanglement of hundreds of marine species. In addition to looking absolutely extraordinary, the well-thought-out integration between fashion and nature makes us hopeful that there will be more projects alike in the future.

BOTTER engaged the assistance of experimental footwear designers and consultants Studio Hagel as part of their ongoing cooperation with adidas for their ground-breaking design, which envisioned resin puddles forming around the midsoles and outsoles.

4. MSCHF x Jimmy Fallon Gobstomper

He who hatches mischief will catch mischief. But the only thing that will happen is that the colors will fade and start to resemble Gobstopper candies. Good or bad, to each their own.

A sneaker that embodies complete parody was made by MSCHF in collaboration with American comedian Jimmy Fallon. What’s interesting is that we were instructed to “damage” the shoes by the Brooklyn-based art collective, revealing an inlay reminiscent of a UV index map. The initial layer is as robust as it gets (they’re not joking) and is supposed to be worn down. Perhaps destroying them is meant to reveal our own heat signatures and much like the shoe, leave us worn out.

The Gobstompers are peculiar in that they are designed to be destroyed. When the uppers of these shoes wear down, hidden red, yellow, and blue layers become visible, resulting in a unique pair of shoes that reflect the wear habits of their owners. You may now judge a person by their shoes.


Why did BEAMS affix a mosquito net to the GEL-Kayano? Due to the fact that it alludes to a Japanese pun, which has been ingrained throughout history in the Japanese language and is just as fundamental in the English language.

And in light of this, BEAMS creates wordplay using the Japanese word for mosquito net, “Kaya” (蚊帳), which is coupled with “no” (の). If we dig a little deeper, this may be an homage to the history of the use of mosquito nets in Japan during the Edo period, which was heavily referenced in both literature and art; Hokusai’s opus, the “Ghost of Kohada Koheiji” is one of them.

In either case, the finished product is a sneaker with a unique appearance. There are snaps all around the toebox that allow you to remove the mosquito net to make it appear a little more natural—this way, you can have the best of all worlds: past meets present, American utility meets Japanese innovation.


More Best of 2022 Features:

The Best Jordan Brand Collabs of 2022
2022’s Best-Selling Travis Scott x Nike Sneakers on SNKRDUNK
The Best New Balance Collabs of 2022
The Best-Selling Air Jordan Sneakers of 2022 on SNKRDUNK