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Nick DePaula’s 10 Sneaker Headlines to Look Forward to in 2024

Big things are in store in the sneakers space in the new year. Boardroom’s Nick DePaula breaks down what to expect and what fans should be excited about in 2024.

As we move forward into 2024, a lineup of leading stars is already on the rise and brands from around the world are pacing toward finding even more momentum across the sneakers marketplace. With the Paris Olympics this summer, the global event will likely act as a key pillar of the calendar for brands to unleash their newest innovations on the world’s greatest athletes. 

This week, let’s lock in on the biggest stories I’m looking forward to for the year ahead.

Sneakers 2024

The Kobe Year 

To close 2023, we saw Nike take a notable step toward revamping its efforts to promote the Kobe Bryant series. A campaign lapping into January launched in key markets like New York and LA, featuring some of Bryant’s most famous mentality moments throughout his 20-year playing career, touting “That’s Mamba.” 

To date, we’ve seen both Vanessa Bryant and Nike lean in often on key dates. There’s an annual “Mambacita” launch on Gigi’s birthday in May, along with an all-white “Halo” launch on 8/24, representing both of Kobe’s jersey numbers and the day after his birthday. 

I’d anticipate Nike to finally meet what’s been a relentless demand for Bryant’s sneakers during “Kobe Year” in ’24. Retailers anticipate a higher volume of products and more frequent launches after fans have largely been frustrated by a lack of availability in the last year.

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The visibility of the “Kobe Brand” is also set to ramp up throughout 2024. There are six NCAA schools in place as “Mamba Colleges” to help highlight pairs on both the men’s and women’s teams, new drops in store for the Kobe 4 Protro, Kobe 8 Protro, and Kobe 9 Protro all year long, and a new accelerated effort around releasing even more Bryant-branded apparel. As part of Nike’s internal re-org to begin 2024, a team of designers has been assigned to work on the Kobe category of products.

With the new contract between the Kobe Bryant Estate and Nike landing in March 2022, the standard corporate 14-18 month product planning calendar is now taking shape as we begin 2024.

Sneakers 2024
(Keith Gillett / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

More Women’s Sigs & Collections 

As TV ratings, social media metrics, and in-person attendance numbers continue to elevate across women’s sports, I’m also expecting to see even more products associated with women leading the way in hoops to come to market. 

Sabrina Ionescu will launch her second Nike signature shoe during the summer of 2024, with Liberty teammate Breanna Stewart set to launch her third Stewie signature shoe with Puma during the same window. Angel Reese’s first collection with Reebok will debut toward the end of the year during the Fall season. 

The next three players that I see making their mark in the sneaker game are Las Vegas Aces two-time champ A’ja Wilson, NCAA star Caitlin Clark, and USC freshman Juju Watkins. Each is already signed to Nike. 

Wilson is overdue for her own signature shoe. I’d like to see Nike, at the least, create PE colorways of the GT Cut series with Clark that could launch at the end of the year, regardless of whether she enters the WNBA Draft this year or returns for one last collegiate season at Iowa. Juju is must-see TV, getting buckets on a nightly basis at USC. She’s a player that Nike could be building up already with LA regional product launches while she’s still in school. I’m expecting to see all three take their leap as leading faces of Nike Basketball this year. 

Sneakers 2024
Photo courtesy of Curry Brand

Future of Curry Brand 

Since launching in late 2020, Stephen Curry is now on his fourth signature under his own Curry Brand, as he’s looked to establish his new “Splash” logo and the Flow technology that’s made its way across Curry’s product lineup of new models. 

With a lifetime deal in place, 2024 projects to be all about expanding Curry Brand even more. Its first signature athlete, Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox, is set to debut his own namesake silhouette. The new year could bring even more athlete and ambassador signings. 

A potential first appearance for Curry at the Summer Olympics in Paris will also serve up yet another global stage for the Warriors star to showcase the future of his brand.

Sneakers 2024

Year of the Foamposite

One of the keys to watch for Nike Sportswear this year will be the re-emergence of the Foamposite. After the model took off on an extensive run in 2012, the brand tucked the iconic Penny Hardaway sneaker back into the vault in recent years.

This year, it’s looking like a lineup of some of the most beloved Foamposites since its 1997 introduction is on the way back. The classic “Dark Neon Royal” is set to return, with detailing inspired by the sample pair from Nike’s original “Phone Number” campaign, complete with the blue Swoosh border and black and blue carbon fiber checkered shank. 

Look for the Eggplant Retro once again, along with one of the greatest theme colorways ever, as the “Galaxy” Foamposite from 2012 All-Star Weekend sees a return for the first time. 

Now priced at $240 retail, near-monthly Foamposite launches could lead to a serious category driver for Nike’s Sportswear imprint.

Sneakers 2024
Photo courtesy of Reebok

Reebok Is Back (again!) 

With new ownership comes new moves, and 2024 should become a foundational year for Reebok’s new vision and direction going forward. President of Basketball Shaquille O’Neal’s first move was signing LSU star Angel Reese to the brand, and this year, Reebok is looking to land an additional face of the company from the NBA

With a replenished and more strategic retro approach for its coveted Allen Iverson and Shaq models to come this year, I expect ’24 to be the year that sets the company up for decades down the road as Reebok looks to re-capture the success and momentum it enjoyed throughout the 1990s. 

Sneakers 2024
(Ned Dishman / NBAE via Getty Images)

KD 4 Retro Releases

The breakthrough model of Kevin Durant’s line is on the way back, as the KD 4 is set to return all year long in both OG and new looks. Looking back at the original lineup of colorways from the 2011-12 season in which KD made his first trip to the NBA Finals, you realize just how deep the coveted colorways went. 

Durant recently named the “Galaxy” and “Weatherman” themes as his two favorites, although the favorite from most is often the “Nerf” KD 4. With his new lifetime deal with the Swoosh locked in, the KD 4 Retro should look to establish the next chapter of the KD business on the Retro side, with people calling for the return of the strapped-up silhouette for years now, and 2024 finally delivering. 

Sneakers 2024
Photo courtesy of Nike

Tiger’s Next Move 

2024 started with a storyline that nobody would’ve ever expected to become a reality — Nike and Tiger Woods were splitting up. One of the most impactful sports marketing partnerships ever ended after 27 years and hundreds of millions in generated revenue. With Nike shifting to a lessened emphasis on new golf products and an expected focus on its growing Jordan Golf business, the two sides are parting ways as Woods enters the closing chapter of his career on the PGA Tour.

In many ways, the split is comparable to Roger Federer‘s departure from Nike, as the brand struggled to justify paying the tennis icon’s market value when weighed against its small Nike Tennis business. Federer ultimately landed a 10-year, $300 million apparel ambassador deal with Uniqlo and an equity-driven footwear partnership with On that projects to be worth around the same figure.

Going forward, Woods is expected to soon announce his new brand partnership, potentially launching his own “TW” line of apparel in tandem with TaylorMade, according to industry sources. For the last year, he’s primarily played in FootJoy golf shoes on the course.

Sneakers 2024

The Olympics!

The 2020 Olympics were unfortunately impacted due to the pandemic, leading to a shifting launch calendar that brands had trouble planning for once the Summer Games eventually took place in Japan in 2021. This year, the Paris Olympics are set to begin in late July and look to land as a triumphant return for new tech and innovation debuts. 

I’ve always loved seeing what brands have in store from a statement product standpoint, not just for the expected running and basketball events but for new sports like skating or specialty usage sports like weightlifting and even equestrian in years past. 

With the Olympics taking place in one of the world’s fashion capitals, the storytelling should go that much deeper. I’ll have my eye on a handful of hoopers in particular.

France native Victor Wembanyama could launch his first collection of PE colorways in Paris. Curry could debut a new silhouette during his first Olympic appearance. Nikola Jokić is expected to be donning his first signature shoe with 361°. Joel Embiid will also be suiting up for Team USA this summer, and the sneaker free agent could have an Olympic surprise in store.

Last but not least, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should see his star power go to another level as he leads a loaded Team Canada toward a potential Olympic medal. 

Sneakers 2024
Recent Anta prototypes worn by Kyrie Irving

Can Kyrie Make His Mark Again? 

After parting ways with Nike over a year ago, Kyrie Irving landed a new five-year shoe deal with Anta that will see his first signature collection launch this spring. Already, he’s been practicing in blacked-out prototypes of two different sneakers from his upcoming KAI branded line, with a series of layered themes and more vibrant retail colorways expected to launch throughout the year. 

When he left Nike, his annual signature business was towering toward $400 million annually, making Irving one of the industry’s most successful series movers. 2024 will be an early indicator of whether Kyrie can continue his success in the industry under his new deal with Anta, which boasts more than 9,000 stores throughout Asia.

His next venture also includes a new wrinkle, with Irving taking an ownership stake in the global distribution plan by becoming an investor in Kicks Crew, where his signature series will be made available to US consumers. 

“It’s a game-changer in the athlete-brand partnership landscape,” said Irving. “It’s not just about endorsing a product anymore — it’s about being actively involved in how that product reaches consumers … We’re redefining the traditional athlete approach to shoe deals.”

If Irving can once again surpass the esteemed $100 million mark for his second act signature business this year, I wouldn’t rule out a return towards him elevating and becoming a top-five seller again.

Sneakers 2024
(Photo by Al Bello / Getty Images)

The Shai Superstar Takeoff 

As the longtime double-digit signature lines of league icons from LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry continue on, there’s a new class of rising stars I expect to see take a huge jump in 2024. That trio should include Anthony Edwards, who’s debut Adidas AE 1 will be one of the best signatures of 2024, rapidly rising Pacers point Tyrese Haliburton, and MVP candidate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Currently under contract with Converse, if the OKC Thunder star in Gilgeous-Alexander entered a true sneaker free agency this fall, I fully believe that Shai could become one of the most sought-after endorsers in industry history. Several brands would immediately make him the face of their company. I’ve been jokingly using this stat when talking to folks throughout the industry about his impact, but it’s still true: Last season, SGA became the first and only player to be named to the All-NBA first team and the All-League Fits first team in the same season. 

While the second award from SLAM’s Instagram off-shoot page might hold less historical significance on paper, it matters, and truly speaks to Shai’s rise as a crossover superstar, where he’s mastered the blend of on- and off-court perhaps better than anyone during the tunnel era. 

With the Thunder now a contending team heading into this year’s playoffs and the Team Canada headliner projecting to be a breakout star at the Paris Olympics, the time is right for a Shai signature business to begin. 

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