2019 In Review: The Best Pop Culture-Inspired Sneakers of the Year

It’s been a busy year in entertainment, and an equally busy year in fashion. Sneaker giants, Nike and Adidas, have been working hard to outdo each other, and their one-upmanship has been paying substantial dividends. 2019, in many ways, was the year of pop culture collaborations, and the results have been epic. Have you noticed these top pop culture collaborations? If you are a sneaker enthusiast, you probably have.

Kyrie Irving is a pop culture purist

Kyrie Irving might already be a big name in basketball, but he’s becoming a big name in the sneaker world now, too. Irving’s collaborations with Nike rose to popularity in 2015 with his first drop with the famous sneaker brand, but the popularity of his shoe skyrocketed in 2019 with two pop culture-inspired releases.

First came a Friends-inspired kick. The show, featuring a black upper, paid homage to the wildly popular sitcom with colored accents inspired by the 90s sitcom’s logo. The shoe was released in men and children’s sizes in May 2019. Irving and Nike followed up the success of the Friends collaboration, with a Spongebob Squarepants-inspired release.

The shoes, inspired by several characters of the hit children’s show, hit the shelves in August 2019. Five styles were included in the pack. One inspired by Spongebob, with the others featuring colorways dedicated to Mr. Krabs, Sandy, Patrick, and Squidward. A sixth style was released in October 2019, featuring a pineapple design to pay homage to the show’s underwater backdrop.

Nike offered up a Stranger Things sneaker pack, too

As if sneakers inspired by cult classics like Friends and Spongebob Squarepants wasn’t enough, Nike also offered up something a bit stranger to its fans in 2019. The activewear juggernaut worked closely with Netflix to develop a line of sneakers inspired by Stranger Things. The ad campaign was a little bit spooky, but the sneakers were solid.

Released in two packs in July 2019, fans could pick their favorite retro styles in a colorway that represented their love of Stranger Things. The sneaker packs included the classic Nike Cortez, Nike Tailwind and the Nike Blazer styles. Each style was introduced during the period Stranger Things is set in.

Adidas got in on the pop culture game in 2019

Nike may have led the charge with a few pop culture-inspired kicks, but they were not the only brand to dig into current and past television to find inspiration. Adidas did it, too. The sneaker purveyor responsible for the Yeezy line offered up sneakers inspired by cult classics like Game of Thrones and Star Wars.

First, Adidas took a shot with Game of Thrones. Releasing several character-inspired colorways, the sneaker company tested the waters, and success was found. The Taragaryen Dragons colorway was among the most popular with a March 2019 release. The shoe, which retailed for $200 upon release, has been selling on aftermarket sites for around $250 ever since.

To close out the year, Adidas offered up a collaboration with Star Wars, quickly selling out multiple styles. Currently, the millennium falcon-inspired Ultraboosts are selling for upwards of $400. Released in November 2019, the shoes retailed for just $180. The Darth Vader colorway, which dropped in December 2019, is finding similar success. The Darth Vader offering was released in the NMD style and retailed for $130.