It may have been the second year of the ongoing pandemic, but 2021 saw many bright spots. In-person events came back, celebs cooped up in their homes hit the red carpet in full force, and while many were happy to be outside again, we were still glued to our televisions with seemingly never-ending entertainment.
Here, take a look back at some of the defining pop-culture moments of 2021 that just so happened to put shoes in the spotlight.
Kamala Harris Makes History
Kamala Harris made history in January becoming the first female, first Black and first Asian American U.S. vice president. For the momentous occasion, she chose to wear Manolo Blahnik’s most iconic style, the BB pump, as she took the oath of office on the steps of the capitol.
“Words cannot express how delighted I am that Madam Vice President Kamala Harris wore Manolos on such a momentous day. It is an honor and a privilege,” the designer told FN at the time.
“Squid Game’s” Slip-Ons
Thanks to Netflix’s most-popular series, “Squid Game,” white sneaker sales were on the rise this year. The show pulled in a staggering 1.65 billion hours of viewing in 28 days following its Sept. 17 premiere, according to Netflix.
The South-Korean drama centers on 456 desperate contestants as they compete with each other in a mysterious and deadly survival game, involving multiple rounds of childhood games to win 45.6 billion won prize money. Throughout the show, the contestants are dressed in eye-popping teal tracksuits paired with white slip-ons.
As a result, searches for retro-inspired tracksuits were on the rise, with a more than 97% uptick, according to global fashion shopping platform Lyst. Then for shoes, searches for white slip-ons increased 145%. Vans were the most-viewed style.
“Ted Lasso’s” Shoe Game
Season 2 of “Ted Lasso” made its return this summer and with that came Lasso’s incredible sneaker collection. The Apple TV+ series follows Jason Sudeikis as Ted Lasso, a former American football coach who gets hired to coach a professional soccer team in England, having never played soccer at all.
In season 2 alone, Lasso could be seen wearing Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG University Blue sneakers, Air Jordan 1 Low Light Smoke Greys, Air Jordan 5s, Nike Daybreak shoes and Jordan Delta Breathe sneakers.
“Ted Lasso” broke records as the most nominated freshman comedy in Emmy Award history this year as well, and landed four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, and Outstanding Supporting Actress in A Comedy Series.
Lil Nas X’s “Satan Shoes”
In March, Lil Nas X received backlash — in what some referred to as “satanic panic” — for a pair of custom “Satan Shoes” that he released in collaboration with the company MSCHF. In response, Lil Nas X — who has publicly come out as gay — tweeted a parody version of his custom sneaker collab that would appease his haters: a “Chick-Fil-A” Nike Air Max 97. The photo featured a shoe in white with a nod to the Bible verse John 3:16 and “My Pleasure,” which is quoted on the sneaker.
Many believed that the “Satan” shoe was done in collaboration with Nike. However, the Swoosh confirmed to FN that it had no part in the launch, and as a result, Nike Inc. sued MSCHF Product Studio Inc., the creator of Lil Nas X’s controversial “Satan Shoes.”
“And Just Like That…” Carrie Bradshaw Is Back
Aptly titled, “And Just Like That…,” Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) are back together again in HBO Max’s “Sex and the City” revival, which debuted this month. As the women navigate the journey from the complicated reality of life and friendship in their 30s to the even more complicated reality of life and friendship in their 50s — one thing is still front and center and it’s footwear.
And what do you know? Carrie’s iconic blue Manolo Blahnik Hangisi heels made a cameo in the series premiere episode.
You remember the ones from the memorable scene in the 2008 “Sex and the City” film. It was at Carrie’s pre-war apartment where Mr. Big stands inside their empty walk-in closet with the Manolos in hand, gets down on one knee and proposes. Who would have guessed what happened next…
Meghan Markle Sits Down With Oprah
It was the tell-all heard around the world. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry joined Oprah Winfrey in March for a two-hour special discussing their lives in the public eye and what happened after their departure from the royal family.
Markle, who was expecting her second child with Prince Harry at the time, went for a bold footwear look, wearing Aquazzura’s classic pumps with a towering stiletto heel that appeared to measure close to 5 inches in height. She completed the look in a silky black $4,700 Armani dress complete with a V-neck silhouette and a floral accent across the right shoulder.
Olivia Rodrigo and Joe Biden’s Shoehorn
Olivia Rodrigo had a year to remember. The singer released her No. 1 hit single “Drivers License” in January, followed by her debut studio album, “Sour,” that also went No.1 on the Billboard 200 chart in May. Then, in July, Rodrigo met with President Joe Biden in an effort to encourage younger generations to get their COVID-19 vaccines. During the visit, Biden gave her a shoehorn.
“He gave me some M&Ms and he gave me a shoehorn, which was strange,” Rodrigo told Jimmy Kimmel during a talk-show appearance. “It had like the presidential emblem on it… I didn’t see it when he gave it to me. It was in a bag. When I took it out, I was like, ‘Wow, so cool,’” she added.
Kimmel quipped, “Well, if you ever thought Joe Biden was too old to be president, now we know he is. He is giving out shoehorns.”
Serena Williams’ Meaningful Nikes
Serena Williams hit the court in June for the 2021 French Open highlighter green Nike tennis shoes. Up close, the sneakers were personalized to feature a mix of custom designs that paid tribute to everything from the Roland Garros stadium itself to her daughter Olympia Ohanian.
On the left foot, it read in English “Never Stop Fighting” with a similar message in French across the right heel: “Je ne m’arrêterai jamais.”
Stephen Curry Breaks 3-Point Record
Stephen Curry made NBA history this month when he surpassed Hall of Famer Ray Allen for the most-made 3-point shots. The Golden State Warriors guard faced off against the New York Knicks on Dec. 14 and within just four minutes of the game, he broke the record to complete a whopping 2,974 3-point baskets.
For the history-making moment, the baller wore a custom-made “2974” iteration of his Under Armour Curry Flow 9 signature shoe, which was detailed in a blue upper accented with gold and a “2974” tag by the ankle collar as a nod to the all-time record number for 3-pointers made. His mantra “I can do all things…” written on the midsole was also on display.