It was only two years ago that Acronym released its first Presto with Nike, even though it feels like a generation ago in terms of sneaker releases. Predating the Off-White collection, the remix that Acronym brought to the Presto was a big surprise—at that point Nike very rarely let collaborators edit its silhouettes. It was a shot across the bow for traditionalists, and caused a well-deserved fervor. This year they followed up the partnership with a trio of Prestos that played with pattern as much as texture, and color as much as expectations. We don't think the 2018 pairs quite live up to the 2016 pairs, but they're still a welcome addition to 2018's list.
Always one to turn its sneaker releases into a massive event, Miami’s own SoleFly provides collaborations at minuscule scales. The numbers are always super small, forcing intense competition to grab pairs—and this year’s Air Jordan 1s for Art Basel fit that same mold. They made two pairs: one incredibly limited in patent leather, and another slightly less limited in smooth leather. Both pairs played with orange, green, and black in different ways, inspired by the store’s official colors and the color-blocking of OG Jordans, but the patent leather pair was next level. The “Art Basel Black” will join the SoleFly Jordan IIIs, and others, as some of the rarest sneakers in the game.
The Adidas Crazy BYW deserves to be on every list it can get on. The shoe perfectly blends the heritage of Adidas’ Crazy line that launched in the early '90s while incorporating contemporary materials and design. Further, it’s an amazing representation of how Adidas is forming a new identity in the last few years: wild soles, fun texture, and playful lines. One of our earliest introductions to the shoe was the collaboration with Bristol Studio that brought us not just one take on the silhouette but two. The collaboration represented and early apex for the shoe that has been approached since, but never quite met again.
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Not to outdo the original Ash Green 4D from Adidas, Taiwanese brand Invincible brought the shoe to the next level. The "Prism" pair is here because the upper sets it apart. Where the OG 4D is remarkable for its sole, these Prisms stand on their own even if they didn’t have a 4D sole. Adidas and Invincible basically hacked the Primeknit process to hide a rainbow of yarns into the knit under a gray outer shell. The result is dynamic and textural. Knit sneakers have been around for a minute, and while they've made advances in textures, this is the best use of color we've seen industry-wide.
After initially teased in collaboration with Undercover, the Element React 87 became one of the most highly anticipated sneakers of the summer. The shoe combines the sole tech of the React with an innovative translucent upper that reflects some subtler trends in the sneaker industry. The shoes have only released in the black and white versions, each selling out whip quick. Expect Nike to roll out a ton more colorways of this sneaker. Nike has been hurting for a win like this. They finally got it.
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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.
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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.