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.
A bold color or print takes an outfit from ordinary to extraordinary. They can give a monochromatic outfit a fun splash of color, or match with a contrast print for an ultra-stylish look that puts all eyes on you. Take a trip on the wild side with cheetah and leopard print boots. These two prints can make an outfit pop. Because these prints are so vibrant, your clothing should a bit more understated. Make them the stars of your fashion show by wearing them with neutral colored clothing.
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.
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.
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.