Each season, we pull together must-have women’s shoes from hundreds of favorite brands, including of-the-moment trends, athletic picks, outdoor styles, and more. Within this assortment, you’ll find everyday essentials like sneakers, ballet flats, and ankle boots as well as styles for special events–from bridal options to vacation-ready flip-flops–and for any weather. Additionally, you’ll discover a range of price points, from budget-friendly picks to designer pairs.
Each year, the major sneaker brands trip over themselves to capture the LGBT market during Pride Month, but Nike was one of the first. With a team of LGBT designers, the brand consistently creates some of the most authentic designs, year after year. This time, it focused on a handful of newer silhouettes, like the Air Max 270, Epic React, Air Vapormax Plus, and Zoom Fly. Each year, Nike's BeTrue designs become subtler. While two of the four designs used the tried-and-true rainbow motif, the runners leaned more into neutral tones with hits of color in the form of the Pink Triangle. As the LGBT community is recognized as an accepted group inside of mainstream American culture, the Pride designs must follow suit. That's exactly what Nike did this year.
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.
When Ronnie Fieg and Kith go big, they go big. The latest collaboration with New Balance featured an astounding six different pairs, each one with a third collaborator: United Arrows & Sons or Nonnative, brands that created some of Fieg’s own favorite New Balance collabs. The shoes are well-developed—starting with the originals as inspiration, the shoes use grays and tans as base tones and build on them with purple, pink, bright blue, and brown. The 997 acts as the base for half the shoes, but the other half is a new mashup of retro styling with more contemporary tooling. There’s a ton to choose from in this collection to meet any taste.
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.
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.
I have breathtakingly small feet, men’s size 6. At more than one socks-only apartment party, a host has wondered where the children’s shoes came from. While I’ve avoided actually buying from the boys section, they’re one of the several valid options for men with small feet, including trans men, and for women dressing in androgynous or traditionally “male” looks.
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After Lance Mountain brought a layered customization to the Jordan 1 and Virgil Abloh tore it apart and sewed it back together, Nigel Sylvester took those bold moves and blended them into subtler, personal flourishes on his latest collaboration. Taking inspiration from how his own pairs look after being heavily worn, the result is a sophisticated design with alluring details, and definitely a top pick from the year.
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.
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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.
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.
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.