The UltraBoost has been a homerun for Adidas year after year, but sometimes we wonder if the three stripes is resting on its laurels with that one. This year, it offered a refreshing update: the UltraBoost Clima. It quickly followed up with a Parley for the Oceans collaboration. The Clima version of the UltraBoost utilizes breathability for a ton of added texture without disrupting the silhouette that's made the sneaker so popular. The blue Parley yarn is a welcome injection of color into the otherwise entirely neutral sneaker. Plus, because the yarn is made from ocean waste, each pair of these shoes represents a cleaner planet.
If you haven’t already been advised by a doctor or shoe fitting specialist about whether or not you have flat, medium or high arches, simply stand in front of a mirror and observe how much of the sole of your feet rests on the floor. Or, walk with wet feet on surface where you can leave an impression. Even take a barefoot walk on the beach and see what your footprint looks like in the sand. Low arches (flat feet) will make a larger print with less curve from the heel to the big toe; while high arches will leave a small strip of a print. A physical therapist or podiatrist can help provide a professional recommendation for your particular needs.
2018 can boast some truly innovative steps in sneaker design, and the DMX Fusion 1 from Reebok and Pyer Moss is squarely in the pantheon of that arena. The silhouette itself is like a dozen other sock runners, but the lacing system is almost mind-boggling. The laces start at the very toe and help inform the shape of the vamp as they pull back to the quarter. Once at the quarter they crisscross a few times through loops, which are rigged so low on the shoe, they're almost at the sole. The laces then wrap around the heel before coming back to the tongue for closure with a lacelock. It's a complicated but refreshing system, and it opens the door for a lot of customization.
The sock runner trend, perfected by the Balenciaga Speed Trainer, hit its apogee with Reebok's Run.r. Like we said, Balenciaga perfected the look, but these Sock Run.rs are still amazing. The upper is about as simple a sock you can get, with some printing on the throat, but the sole is what's most interesting about the shoe. The seemingly multi-unit sole features what looks like a separated toe (it's connected to the rest of the sole under the sneaker), a taller section at the ball for stability, and a heel cup at the back. The look is intense but surprisingly well balanced.
Supreme got back with Nike on some Air Force 1s that, while maybe not the most sought-after pairs of the year, have grabbed their share of attention. Covered in NBA logos from toe to heel, the sneakers are practically a hot mess. But they are also an amazing play on the overbranding trend of this year. These pairs will go down as one of the most recognizable sneakers of the year and remind for us of what 2018 was all about.
It wouldn't be overly self-important to say that sneaker culture started in the U.S. and has lead the industry since the community really got rolling in the '80s. But now, that community is now global, and it's about time the brands really played to each of those markets. This spring, Jordan Brand created a pair of Jordan 3s for Seoul Korea to celebrate the Olympics. On a quick look, they look like a strange version of the True Blues or maybe White Cements. But upon closer inspection, you'll notice they're a play on the Korean flag, with the actual flag elements appearing as embroidery on the tongue. They're a very subtle flex, considering not many pairs of them exist in the world.
The addition of shearling is a textural detail that subtly transforms our most popular models into something unexpected. The Amazon Shearling lines its footbed with puffs of fur, and the Daytona takes its criss-cross strap and adorns one side with the same lambskin for the coziest cool weather look. These styles move easily between the transitional months where socks are optional.
Kendrick Lamar moving from Reebok to Nike was a natural because Nike gave him the Cortez, and nary has a combination of sneaker and artist felt more seamless. Kendrick used the opportunity to put out a series of colorways inspired by his music and evolving identity, offering a range of aesthetics. The Cortez Kenny III is the best one yet. Black, white, and red play off classic sneaker colorways, but Lamar injected the sneakers with details like Chinese characters embroidered into the toe and "BET IT BACK" printed on the tongue ribbon. It's a brilliant pairing.
We don’t love the high fashion trend of distressed sneakers: it makes sense on denim, and maybe even a top or two, but aren’t we supposed to keep our sneakers as crispy white as possible? (Yes. The answer is yes.) But there’s something about these Vetements Reeboks that flip the script and make for an amazing pair of kicks. Maybe it’s the retro silhouette, the nostalgic colorway, or the contrast of the distressing, but all together the look is insane (as is the price tag). These have hardly turned into a fan favorite, and even though you’ll probably never find us dropping a stack to get them them, they’re more than deserving of their spot on this list.
You're probably not going to find these new Nike Vandals on anyone else's "Best of the Year" lists, but we're OK with that. There's nothing particularly notable about these Vandals except for the fact that they're amazingly executed. The Vandal has been around for decades in colorways just like this black and gold one, but the combination of elevated construction with black satin and gold leather makes for a sneaker that's unmissable. Especially at $90. These are a total General Release that are unlikely to sell out any time soon, and even less likely to inspire sneaker collectors to snatch them up and sit on them for years. But they're something special.
Another near subversion of a classic, the coral colorway of Nike’s Air Force 1 Foamposite Pro plays with expectations in a bright and fun way. Usually, the Air Force 1 Foamposite is marketed to the most fragile and masculine consumers in the community, so for Nike to release the shoe in a bright pink was a gauntlet thrown. This sneaker represents a challenge to consumers to expand, and that’s a challenge we can get behind. The color works great on the Foamposite material, highlighting the curves and ridges without being too abrasive.
Off-White's collaborations with Nike will forever mark a turning point in what the major brands allowed collaborators to do with their beloved sneakers. As much as that represented a paradigm shift, there will always be projects like the MAGIC STICK Air Force 1, which creatively experiment within the limited confines of heritage silhouettes. The MAGIC STICK AF1s utilize unique materials (Tyvek and 3M in addition to leather and suede) for a look that is at once subtle and eye catching. With piping that reflects light and a neon ankle strap against the white upper, MAGIC STICK did a lot within a series of limitations that the industry is leaving behind.