Each year in sneaker hierarchy can be measured in technical innovation just as well as hype or style. This year, Jordan Brand applied Flyknit technology to the Air Jordan III, a move that required amazing dexterity and development when it comes to creating new textures from the material. The III is famous for combining smooth and tumbled leathers with the legendary elephant skin print. Jordan was able to get all those textures, and more, in 3D out of the Flyknit, making for a sneaker—and a process—that combines old and new.
When you get to the level of Alexander Wang, there's a confidence of design that seeps through into every piece. That confidence is on full display here. On paper the Puff Trainer shouldn't make any sense: the shoe features a quilted puffer upper with lacing that attaches to the sole and ties behind the heel, a sock entry (usually reserved for speedy, summer-based runners), and a color combination of black, maroon, and neon green. But when expertly balanced with appropriate restraint and flourish, the shoes are an achievement. Not to mention the sole unit is a show-stopper on its own. The sneaker is impressive from toe to heel, and is far and away one of the best offerings from 2018.
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.
The sock runner trend, perfected by the Balenciaga Speed Trainer, hit its apogee with Reebok's Run.r. Like we said, Balenciaga perfected the look, but these Sock Run.rs are still amazing. The upper is about as simple a sock you can get, with some printing on the throat, but the sole is what's most interesting about the shoe. The seemingly multi-unit sole features what looks like a separated toe (it's connected to the rest of the sole under the sneaker), a taller section at the ball for stability, and a heel cup at the back. The look is intense but surprisingly well balanced.
The UltraBoost has been a homerun for Adidas year after year, but sometimes we wonder if the three stripes is resting on its laurels with that one. This year, it offered a refreshing update: the UltraBoost Clima. It quickly followed up with a Parley for the Oceans collaboration. The Clima version of the UltraBoost utilizes breathability for a ton of added texture without disrupting the silhouette that's made the sneaker so popular. The blue Parley yarn is a welcome injection of color into the otherwise entirely neutral sneaker. Plus, because the yarn is made from ocean waste, each pair of these shoes represents a cleaner planet.
When your cute sandals have become dirty, you're going to have to care for them dependent on the materials they are made from. As mentioned above, if they are made from man-made materials, you can simply toss them in the wash. If they are, however, made with leather, you will need some leather conditioning soap. Make sure to clean and air dry your cute sandals before you try to wear them again. When boxing them up for the year, it is best to put them in airtight plastic bags. This will keep them from drying out.
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2018 can boast some truly innovative steps in sneaker design, and the DMX Fusion 1 from Reebok and Pyer Moss is squarely in the pantheon of that arena. The silhouette itself is like a dozen other sock runners, but the lacing system is almost mind-boggling. The laces start at the very toe and help inform the shape of the vamp as they pull back to the quarter. Once at the quarter they crisscross a few times through loops, which are rigged so low on the shoe, they're almost at the sole. The laces then wrap around the heel before coming back to the tongue for closure with a lacelock. It's a complicated but refreshing system, and it opens the door for a lot of customization.
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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.
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.
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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.
LeBron’s sneaker line slowed down over the last few years, bringing us uninspired offerings and fading into the background. But this year, that all changed. Nike and LeBron finally approached the tech sneaker with lifestyle responsibilities. The first few colorways sold out immediately, but the real intro came when LeBron teamed up with Ronnie Fieg and Kith for this “Long Live the King” collection. The shoes dive deep into royal symbology, creating a series of styles that transcend the technical aspects of the sneaker. When the kicks released, there was no way to know that LeBron would lose out on a ring, leave Cleveland, and create a school set to reshape a generation of youth in Ohio, but these remind us that 2018 has been a roller coaster.
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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.
Update your cool weather wardrobe with a pair of women's boots from Overstock.com. Take to the woods with chunky and durable styles from Timberland that keep your feet comfortable and dry on long hiking treks, or combine your jeans and casual look with a pair of Black Star cowboy boots that are the perfect choice for line dancing or attending that next big concert. Dressy styles from Naturalizer or Carlos Santana go from the board room to a night out with someone special, while colorful synthetic rain boots let you walk to and from class in snow and ice without slipping or getting your socks wet. Boots with heels let you soar to new heights, while flats keep you grounded and are ideal for long days out shopping with friends.
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