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.
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.
*2nd pair must be of equal or lesser value. Excludes accessories and certain styles, including but not limited to adidas, Asics, Bear Paw, Birkenstock, Converse, Dr. Martens, select Fila styles, Keds, Koolaburra by UGG, Merrell, Rainbow, Reebok, Rockport, Saucony, Sperry, Teva, Tommy Hilfiger Kids’, online Timberland & Timberland Pro, plus all Nike styles.
At first blush, the Travis Scott Air Force 1s with Nike don't seem like much. In fact, they might even seem familiar because the silhouette was introduced late last year. But if you take a closer look, you'll see how special this version actually is. The canvas-like upper lends itself beautifully to customization, something we've already seen work out gloriously. But the shoe goes even further. The unique piping all over the sneaker is colored 3M, and the swooshes are removable; each sneaker comes with a collection of different swooshes made from different materials that can be swapped out depending on your mood. These Travis Scott Air Force 1s end up representing our favorite kind of footwear—the kind where there's more than meets the eye and invites a personal touch.
Another entry in the reappearing retro runners, the latest collaboration between Supreme and Nike took the surprising form of the Zoom Streak Spectrum Plus. They feature the classic combination of mesh and leather in sharp waves across the upper. Not satisfied enough with the old-school material design, each colorway is covered in flames. The effect is at once respectful of the past, while also giving it a cheeky update. These were by no means Supreme’s most popular collaboration, but they’re fresh and fit squarely into what the industry has been up to this year.
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.
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.
If 2018 represented the transition from bold design to subtlety, few projects straddle that change as well as the Paris Saint-Germain collaboration with Air Jordan. The partnership resulted in two pairs: a Jordan V and a Jordan 1, but we're only including the V on this list because it's the one that did the most. At first blush, the shoe doesn't look so different from the classic Black/Metallic colorway, just rendered even darker. The tongue and quarter have been transitioned from grey to black, and an inclusion of "75" is embroidered at the heel. The shifts are subtle enough that the shoes catch the attention of older sneaker heads, but have the added hype details to make the younger generation take notice. This is what we're looking forward to in the future of sneaker collaborations.
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.