Once the 2 Chainz sneaker with Versace was announced, all eyes turned to the brand in anticipation of what it would be. Not because of 2 Chainz, but because of Salehe Bembury, the newly minted lead footwear designer at Versace. Bembury designed with Greats and Cole Haan in the past before heading over to Kanye's Yeezy brand. The Chain Reaction was his first big sneaker with Versace, and it is literally big. The sole is a massive reconstruction of Cuban chain links, while the upper is a veritable canvas for whatever designs the Versace team or collaborators can dream up. And you know a shoe this big comes with an equally big price tag.
For many sneakerheads, the Black Cement 3 is considered the greatest sneaker of all time. A combination of silhouette, colorway, social significance, and basic wearability created a perfect storm. The shoes were made available to the public again for the first time since 2011, introducing a new generation to the GOAT sneaker and letting the rest of us refresh our collection.
It's never a bad time for a gold sneaker, and the combination of gold and patent leather on these Jordan 1s is a winner. To be fair, the Top 3 Gold 1s from 2017 were slightly better, but this more conservative take on the look is a great consolation pair. The funny thing about sneakers like the Patent Gold Toe Jordan 1 is that, as much as they feel luxe, they also feel accessible. These sneakers can take you anywhere. They may even help you fly like Mike.
A bold color or print takes an outfit from ordinary to extraordinary. They can give a monochromatic outfit a fun splash of color, or match with a contrast print for an ultra-stylish look that puts all eyes on you. Take a trip on the wild side with cheetah and leopard print boots. These two prints can make an outfit pop. Because these prints are so vibrant, your clothing should a bit more understated. Make them the stars of your fashion show by wearing them with neutral colored clothing.
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.
It also carries many of the biggest brand names, including Nike, Steve Madden and UGG, so it is a good place to shop if you’re looking for designer shoes, boots, athletic shoes or sandals. When you sign up for DSW’s rewards program, you earn points for every dollar you spend. These points can be redeemed for gift cards. This store also offers free shipping on all sales and free exchanges within 60 days. One of DSW’s drawbacks is it doesn’t offer as deep of discounts as other shoe stores we looked at.
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“The Ten” Collection from Nike and Off-White that launched last year expanded in 2018, going way beyond the original list of 10 pairs. The first expansion was a European-only release of the remixed Air Jordan 1 done up in bright white from toe to heel. Plus, a couple hits of purple to make you feel like royalty. This was the original colorway Abloh designed for the 2017 collection, but the brands decided to stick with Chicago for the launch to classify the sneaker as an immediate success. It worked. The OG Chicago colorway and these white pairs continue to inspire thirst.
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.
When you get to the level of Alexander Wang, there's a confidence of design that seeps through into every piece. That confidence is on full display here. On paper the Puff Trainer shouldn't make any sense: the shoe features a quilted puffer upper with lacing that attaches to the sole and ties behind the heel, a sock entry (usually reserved for speedy, summer-based runners), and a color combination of black, maroon, and neon green. But when expertly balanced with appropriate restraint and flourish, the shoes are an achievement. Not to mention the sole unit is a show-stopper on its own. The sneaker is impressive from toe to heel, and is far and away one of the best offerings from 2018.
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.
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.
Every year, the greatest basketball sneaker brand in the world brings together the greatest technology in the industry to create a new shoe in the name of the greatest player of the game. It's a heavy task and it doesn't always mean that the shoe will end up being the most aesthetically pleasing pair, but this year it all came together. The last few years Jordan Brand has drawn inspiration from the past, but this year it looked to the future. The upper is mostly a single piece of knit, the lacing system is simplified to wires, and the internal pieces of the shoe are top-of-the-line. Rather than trying to hide all the technology under an aesthetic perfected in the '80s, the shoe looks like it's as futuristic as it is, and one of the launch colorways—Desert Ore—leans into the smattering of colors we've come to expect from cutting-edge design. The shoes represent practically the entire color wheel, but they blend together into a chorus, making for a sneaker that sings.
We actually put Louis Vuitton's Archlight on our list for 2017 and the shoe didn't even drop that year. At the time we put it on our list the name hadn't been made public and all we saw were pictures. Now that we've had a year to see the shoe in action, it's good enough to make the list again (this time it's at least it’s official). The Archlight is a truly amazing in sneaker design for a few reasons, but the biggest is the most obvious: the sole. At a time when heavy, chunky soles are in vogue, Louis Vuitton has created a sole that plays with the eye to different ends: This was all about reshaping the perception of the foot and making it far more dynamic. And it works. For reconfiguring how we see our own biology, the Archlight is definitely one of the best of the year.
The AlphaBounce has been a great sneaker for Adidas, opening the brand up to runners on a tighter budget. But the AlphaBounce Beyond is a whole new level. The one shortcoming of the AlphaBounce was always aesthetics; it was often an overkill combination of textures, materials, and patterns. But the new AlphaBounce Beyond edits and elevates the look to the next level. The sole design fits seamlessly into the upper, each of them playing off the same textural motifs. An arch plug adds a little bit of surprise. The Beyond demands a few dollars more than its predecessor, but it also represents more than a couple extra steps in the right direction.
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.