Adidas is currently engaged in a global push to reduce its carbon footprint, and one of the more interesting ways the brand has approached the issue is to be hyper-local. The new AM4 program underscores the brand's abilities at the SpeedFactories, which are manufacturing centers that operate in each of the global markets. In 2018, Adidas has toured around to major cities releasing local versions of a new BOOST runner calibrated for the aesthetics of each city. The shoes may not be the most aesthetically appealing pairs, but they promise a new future of manufacturing and that's huge.
This year saw the wide release of Adidas’s Futurecraft 4D, a true advancement in sneaker technology. Adidas has solved the problems around 3D printing, using a fast and efficient process to mass produce soles in a sustainable way. Each sole contains up to 12,000 "struts," or printed arms, that have been carefully and individually calibrated to create the most supportive sole possible. The 4D carries with it a massive price tag, but all advances come at a cost. The shoes look amazing and are honestly worth every penny.
A sleeper hit, the LeBron 10 made in collaboration with John Elliott is pitch-perfect to Elliott’s aesthetic. The JE brand is known for taking daily staples and elevating them, and rather than purely elevating the LeBron 10, Elliott distilled the sneaker to its constituent parts, taking the shoe from an earlier era and bringing it into the present. After that work was done, he went about utilizing the panels and pieces in black and white to create depth and implicit texture. At a quick glance it may not appear that there’s much to these kicks, but there are layers to them and they deserve recognition.
Irony peaked with the "Weekend Campout" colorway of Nike's classic Air Monarch. The Monarch has earned its title of being the daddest dad shoe of them all, and sneaker collectors have laced them up ironically for years. But the Weekend Campout colorway brought the sneaker to the next level, offering an elevated version of the shoe. Doing so in limited numbers throttled supply and raised demand.
Easily one of the most hyped sneakers of the year, the duo of black and white Air Prestos from Nike and Off-White were also one of the best. Virgil Abloh snapped with the original Air Presto from his "The Ten" collection last year, and, while the design was initially overlooked, it has since proven itself to be one of the most progressive from the collection. The complexity of the silhouette lends itself well to the subtleties of black and white to let the textures come through. Fans lapped up both colorways, and many of the white pairs have become canvases for homemade customs to near unanimous positive results.
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.
It’s been more than a decade since The Devil Wears Prada, and we’ve traveled more than time since that window opened into the fashion industry. With Jordan’s new women’s brand up and running, Vogue left its mark on this duo of Jordan IIIs. Each has a unique texture that offers real depth, but the achievement is a women’s line that’s strong and expressive, while providing sneakers that are covetable without being desperately "girly." These represent a cultural win on multiple fronts.