This is the first question most people ask. Like shoes for any other sport, wrestling shoes fall on a vast price spectrum. You can get perfectly serviceable wrestling shoes for $45 or pay nearly $200 for a top-of-the-line pair. The perception is that the more expensive the shoes, the better they are. To an extent that’s true. But better for whom? That the question you should ask. The more expensive styles generally carry the latest advancements and materials, and cater to the more advanced wrestler’s abilities.
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.
Each year, the major sneaker brands trip over themselves to capture the LGBT market during Pride Month, but Nike was one of the first. With a team of LGBT designers, the brand consistently creates some of the most authentic designs, year after year. This time, it focused on a handful of newer silhouettes, like the Air Max 270, Epic React, Air Vapormax Plus, and Zoom Fly. Each year, Nike's BeTrue designs become subtler. While two of the four designs used the tried-and-true rainbow motif, the runners leaned more into neutral tones with hits of color in the form of the Pink Triangle. As the LGBT community is recognized as an accepted group inside of mainstream American culture, the Pride designs must follow suit. That's exactly what Nike did this year.
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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.
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.
The Yeezy brand has taken a status hit this year, with a dizzying amount of releases in super high volumes, fronted by Kanye—who has become an embattled figure in his own right. But in terms of aesthetics, the Mauve Yeezy Boost 700 represents a high watermark in design. The right tones of deep purple are on grand display thanks to the textural variations of leather and suede, and get just the right break from two hits of neon green. If you can separate style from politics, these are the best sneakers from Kanye and Adidas in years.
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.