It was only two years ago that Acronym released its first Presto with Nike, even though it feels like a generation ago in terms of sneaker releases. Predating the Off-White collection, the remix that Acronym brought to the Presto was a big surprise—at that point Nike very rarely let collaborators edit its silhouettes. It was a shot across the bow for traditionalists, and caused a well-deserved fervor. This year they followed up the partnership with a trio of Prestos that played with pattern as much as texture, and color as much as expectations. We don't think the 2018 pairs quite live up to the 2016 pairs, but they're still a welcome addition to 2018's list.
Adidas's Handball Top is a real throwback and a true example of how great shoes were in the 1980s. Once basketball and running took over sneaker trends, soles got pretty boring. If a company wasn't trying to inject as much air as possible into the sneaker, they were just creating waves of EVA and rubber. The sole on these relatively understated kicks have vertical ridges that would be unexpected in 2018, while the upper is old school without feeling tired. The Oyster Holdings collaboration utilized muted tones for sneakers that make a statement but don't scream.
Outer Sole: Specialized rubber manufacturers like Vibram offer durable treads for hiking and portaging over rough terrain. Stealth Rubber, featured in Five Ten climbing shoes and Astral river shoes, is designed to stick to rocks to keep you on your feet in the current. You can spend days researching rubbers but at the end of the day, reputable brands use excellent proprietary sole materials.
The Skylon 2 is anything but new, yet we added it to this list because Nike brought it back at just the right time. The shoe is pure retro; Nike hasn't changed it a bit. That intensity of retro styling (everything from the synthetic suede to the color gradation on the quarter) might be too much for those who aren't hip to the trend. Or those who just don't want to remember the late '80s and early '90s when sneakers like the Skylon were the wave. But on the tail end of the retro runner craze, this was the right moment to dive deep into that nostalgia and bring the Skylon 2 right back to the forefront. Plus, the color combos are amazing.
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.