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.
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.
2018 will go down as the year Nike and Jordan Brand started thinking about the women’s market seriously. Jordan created an entire sub brand devoted to their female customers, and launched pieces with the “1 Reimagined” program. Ten new takes on the Jordan 1 and Air Force 1 offer complete shakeups of these classic designs, shuffled up for a female customer base. Don’t let the gender designation get in the way; some of these deserve full market distribution.
A-Cold-Wall*’s Air Force 1 from 2016 is this writer’s favorite sneaker of the last decade, so any related follow-up is going to land squarely on this list. What made the original such an incredible pair was how it took fresh out-of-the-box lacing and turned that into the default for a pair of Forces—it formalized a counter-culture aesthetic into the only option. The Low version released at the end of this year continues the same lacing pattern with a mostly smooth upper that approximates the panels of the high. We’ve lost some of the textures off the original, but ACW has hit it out of the park again thanks to their grasp on how sneaker culture interacts with the wider world.
Adidas has proven to be an innovator in sole technology, and few pairs show that off more explicitly than the new Sobakov. Inspired by the three stripe’s tradition of soccer sneakers, the Sobakov utilizes a bold sole that is as practical as it is sculptural. Each of the deep ridges spins all over the sole, offering grip and traction, while also creating a really dope look. Add to that the knit upper designed to have the same depth and darkness as suede, and the Sobakov offers a pitch perfect balance between retro inspiration and new traditions.
The Skylon 2 is anything but new, yet we added it to this list because Nike brought it back at just the right time. The shoe is pure retro; Nike hasn't changed it a bit. That intensity of retro styling (everything from the synthetic suede to the color gradation on the quarter) might be too much for those who aren't hip to the trend. Or those who just don't want to remember the late '80s and early '90s when sneakers like the Skylon were the wave. But on the tail end of the retro runner craze, this was the right moment to dive deep into that nostalgia and bring the Skylon 2 right back to the forefront. Plus, the color combos are amazing.
The past decade of sneaker culture has been all about making a statement, and we’re approaching the end of how much the community is willing to continue that trend. We’re nearing a future that demands subdued aesthetics, making the Mocha III release from Jordan Brand perfectly timed. The Jordan III will never go out of style, but the Mocha has often been forgotten—it’s just not a visually exciting sneaker. A white upper includes the traditional combination of smooth and tumbled leathers, with a heel wrap and details done up in brown. “Brown shoe” is typically code for dressier (or more boring) shoes, explaining why we rarely see the shade on sneakers, but with the culture moving back towards minimalist color schemes, now is the perfect time for the return of the Mochas.
Many of the walkers who wear sandals for walking 10 kilometers or more wear socks with them. Socks put a barrier between the straps and the foot, reducing the risk of hot spots and blisters. Many walkers say they wear their walking sandals year-round, which they can only do by adding socks. Socks can also wick moisture away from the sole of the foot to keep it dryer.
Since we started reviewing online shoe stores in 2016 we have spent over 30 hours exploring their features, their inventory, service policies and online support. We feel confident about our recommendations as a result. At some point, we contacted each of the stores in our lineup with various questions related to our findings and to clarify things we had a limited understanding of. The stores had no input or influence over our testing methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available by reading our reviews online. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
You may be familiar with MCM’s audacious monogrammed leather on accessories like backpacks and purses. The look is a popular one, so Puma stuck with what works for the collaboration. The two brands used the famous Suede, a sneaker worn on court by OG NBA players like Clyde Frazier, covering the shoe in signature MCM leathers. The resulting pairs were far and away one of the most expensive Puma ever released, but if you’re into the MCM style, they were worth every penny.
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.
Have you ever wanted to order pizza but you couldn’t be bothered to reach for your phone? Pizza Hut solved that perennial challenge with its Pie Tops II, designed and manufactured by Shoe Surgeon. The sneakers have obvious retro sneaker inspiration, but the killer is that they are optimized with tech to order a pizza for you and then pause your TV when the delivery guy arrives. They may not satisfy your sneaker thirst, but they can satisfy your hunger.
Unless you're a hardcore sneaker collector that follows every contour of the sneaker community's ins and outs, you may have missed the second release between Packer Shoes and Adidas on the EQT models. The earlier release on the Cushion 91 set the tone for the partnership, bringing a well-designed sneaker with premium materials into a muddy forest, subverting the idea of streetwear luxury. But the following week, Packer released a pair of the 91/18s in a much more considered design —and in much more limited numbers. The streamlined sneakers pared down the color palate (this time using black, tan, and teal), letting the panels and textures play off one another for a shoe that feels just as engaged with the outdoors but is more progressive in design and sophisticated in palette. A truly quiet winner.

A-Cold-Wall*’s Air Force 1 from 2016 is this writer’s favorite sneaker of the last decade, so any related follow-up is going to land squarely on this list. What made the original such an incredible pair was how it took fresh out-of-the-box lacing and turned that into the default for a pair of Forces—it formalized a counter-culture aesthetic into the only option. The Low version released at the end of this year continues the same lacing pattern with a mostly smooth upper that approximates the panels of the high. We’ve lost some of the textures off the original, but ACW has hit it out of the park again thanks to their grasp on how sneaker culture interacts with the wider world.
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.
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