If you know Bape, you know it rips heritage designs from other companies, but that's also sort of their thing. Also sort of why we love them. The Bapesta is a shameless rip-off of the Air Force 1, and while Bape consistently puts Bapestas out year after year, it's far rarer that we see them in Bape's iconic "1st Camo." The 1st Camo is the graphic camouflage that made Bape famous, so the combination of camo and sneaker promised a firestorm of hype. And the shoes made good on that promise. Even if you're not caught in the hype, they have a unique charm to them and will ultimately prove to be one of the best releases of the year.
The Adidas Crazy BYW deserves to be on every list it can get on. The shoe perfectly blends the heritage of Adidas’ Crazy line that launched in the early '90s while incorporating contemporary materials and design. Further, it’s an amazing representation of how Adidas is forming a new identity in the last few years: wild soles, fun texture, and playful lines. One of our earliest introductions to the shoe was the collaboration with Bristol Studio that brought us not just one take on the silhouette but two. The collaboration represented and early apex for the shoe that has been approached since, but never quite met again.
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.
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.
Stock up on strappy sandals for women from GoJane and you'll save so much, you'll have some extra cash to get a pedicure to complete the look. Flat, strappy sandals are a must-have in any girl's warm weather wardrobe, mainly because they go with pretty much anything. Neutral sandals will give you that classy look that's perfect to wear with a sundress, while shimmery metallic sandals add a touch of glam that can even go from day to night.
Y-3's newest sneaker, the Kaiwa, represents a beautiful confluence of sneaker trends from the last couple years, all combining into one show-stopping sneaker. Y-3 is known for progressive design with technical aesthetics. While the Kaiwa employs that in the sole (which is very chunky, like many pairs that are currently popular), the upper retains the implication of significant quality that comes with a leather paneled sneaker. But the upper isn't totally traditional; it has a sock shape instead of using a tongue. All of these elements could make the sneaker too busy, but it somehow retains a near minimalism.
Clearly you can find shoes at a local store, but you may find lower prices shopping online. Also, buying online is easier and cheaper than special ordering from a local store, especially if you need shoes in an atypical size or style. Shipping is one of the biggest drawbacks, but many online stores have begun offering free shipping, either on all orders or on orders that exceed a certain dollar amount.
Birkenstocks are highly favored by their many converts for city walking, to the point where some Birkenstock-lovers wear no other shoes. They have have their ups and downs in popularity but always seem to make a comeback. The deep heel cup is the reason. It provides a "barefoot experience" that may take some getting used to, but once converted, few go back to other footwear. If you dare take the first step towards this cult, give Birks a try. You may become part of their longstanding (and long walking) following.
With just a little effort, you will have the kinds of cheap sandals that you're excited to wear summer after summer. You will feel cool and comfortable thanks to the effort you put into finding just the right shoes. You will have chosen the right materials, the kinds of straps you need as well as making sure to care for them properly. Thanks to what you went through to buy the right selection, you will have the kind of look and feel that you're going for no matter how hot it gets outside. Enjoy that cool casual feel all summer long.
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.
After initially teased in collaboration with Undercover, the Element React 87 became one of the most highly anticipated sneakers of the summer. The shoe combines the sole tech of the React with an innovative translucent upper that reflects some subtler trends in the sneaker industry. The shoes have only released in the black and white versions, each selling out whip quick. Expect Nike to roll out a ton more colorways of this sneaker. Nike has been hurting for a win like this. They finally got it.
Easily one of the most hyped sneakers of the year, the duo of black and white Air Prestos from Nike and Off-White were also one of the best. Virgil Abloh snapped with the original Air Presto from his "The Ten" collection last year, and, while the design was initially overlooked, it has since proven itself to be one of the most progressive from the collection. The complexity of the silhouette lends itself well to the subtleties of black and white to let the textures come through. Fans lapped up both colorways, and many of the white pairs have become canvases for homemade customs to near unanimous positive results.
You were probably surprised when you saw Brooklyn-based sneaker brand Greats created a collaborative sneaker with Showtime hit show Billions. We were too. Greats is all about getting high-quality Italian craftsmanship at an affordable price, and when collaborating with a show about how money changes people and relationships, they leaned in. The sneakers are subtle, with a black suede upper, waxed laces, and an off-white sole, but it's the sockliner that tells the story. "What's the point of having FUCK YOU MONEY if you never say 'FUCK YOU'," is printed on the inside of the sneaker to help remind you who you are with every step.
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2018 was an intense year for sneakers. We started the year heavy on the chunky soles and dad shoe trend, and, as the year wraps up, we're getting more into personalized pairs. White sneakers are appearing across every market, acting as canvases for amateur creatives to leave a personal touch on their kicks. Meanwhile, brands have also been focused on blending the past and the future; you’ll find this list is populated with shoes that draw inspiration or elements from the '80s and '90s, but play with them in very contemporary ways. And while technology used to be about running away from the past, the sneakers in 2018 show us that we can use it as a launching pad. This is our list of the best sneakers of 2018.