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.
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.
It's no secret that the Air Max 270 Bowfin is one of the stranger silhouettes that released this year, but it suddenly made sense when we caught the Atomic Violet colorway. The shoes are wild: The uppers are a mess of materials with an attached tongue, a ribbon-constructed lacing system that culminates in a lacelock, and even a ripstop top that acts as a shield for the rest of the shoe. The sole is a triumph on its own: texture and line come together with a bright mudguard, and then a 270-degree air bubble at the heel. There are subtler colorways of the kicks, but with a blend of lavender, pink, mustard, white, and black, the details of the shoe are elevated and we get to see what makes it truly unique.
Buying shoes online is a pain in the ass. Even if you measure your feet correctly, shoe fits vary widely, so you’ll inevitably have to ship a few pairs back before you find the right one. Try buying several styles in several sizes at once, so you can just make one big return shipment instead of five trips to UPS. Most shoe sites are fine with this, but check site policy before you go wild.
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.
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.
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.