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.
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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.
The AlphaBounce has been a great sneaker for Adidas, opening the brand up to runners on a tighter budget. But the AlphaBounce Beyond is a whole new level. The one shortcoming of the AlphaBounce was always aesthetics; it was often an overkill combination of textures, materials, and patterns. But the new AlphaBounce Beyond edits and elevates the look to the next level. The sole design fits seamlessly into the upper, each of them playing off the same textural motifs. An arch plug adds a little bit of surprise. The Beyond demands a few dollars more than its predecessor, but it also represents more than a couple extra steps in the right direction.
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.
The outdoor shoe came back with a vengeance this year, and that's in large part thanks to Kith's ongoing partnership with Adidas' Terrex brand. They released a slew of kicks, but our favorite is this TR Boost EEA. We love these because they straddle the line between an ostentatious outdoorsy shoe and a more digestible streetwear look. The classic Ronnie Fieg colors of navy and salmon pink appear all over the shoe, with a rugged sole that makes them work just as well on a hike as they do on Lafayette Street.
Men’s leather sandals the footwear for a holiday, take a break from the monotony of formal shoes and sneakers. Let your feet breathe when you’re out on vacation, make your pick between tan leather sandals, men’s black sandals or go in for a modern shade of soft grey. Men’s leather sandals can be worn with either shorts or long trousers, while the classic blue denim is the ideal partner for men's leather sandals but if you wish to wear long trousers make sure you fold them up till the ankle and best stay away from the loose gathers look.
It wouldn't be overly self-important to say that sneaker culture started in the U.S. and has lead the industry since the community really got rolling in the '80s. But now, that community is now global, and it's about time the brands really played to each of those markets. This spring, Jordan Brand created a pair of Jordan 3s for Seoul Korea to celebrate the Olympics. On a quick look, they look like a strange version of the True Blues or maybe White Cements. But upon closer inspection, you'll notice they're a play on the Korean flag, with the actual flag elements appearing as embroidery on the tongue. They're a very subtle flex, considering not many pairs of them exist in the world.
If you haven’t already been advised by a doctor or shoe fitting specialist about whether or not you have flat, medium or high arches, simply stand in front of a mirror and observe how much of the sole of your feet rests on the floor. Or, walk with wet feet on surface where you can leave an impression. Even take a barefoot walk on the beach and see what your footprint looks like in the sand. Low arches (flat feet) will make a larger print with less curve from the heel to the big toe; while high arches will leave a small strip of a print. A physical therapist or podiatrist can help provide a professional recommendation for your particular needs.
The Air Jordan XI Concord is one of the most famous sneakers of all time—not even for basketball or Jordans, but of all time. It's not just that they're a total 10 out of 10 on aesthetics, but they also carry cultural weight that few other sneakers can. It was the Concord release in 2011 that brought sneaker culture into the center of the wider conversation, and that news-cycle changed everything for sneakerheads all over the world. Suddenly we were on the national news, and even though it was for bad reasons (riots, violence, theft), the world was finally paying attention. This release was much easier to get than the 2011 pair, but they still hold the same significance.