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.
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.
The Justin Timberlake take on the new Air Jordan 3 wasn’t just a game changer because it used the original Tinker Hatfield sketch for the iconic Jordan 3 as the design base (that includes a Swoosh that seems intrusive 30 years later), but also because Nike dropped the shoes when Justin Timberlake took the stage during the super bowl. It was a true sneaker moment that definitely goes down as a hallmark of 2018.
We don't know how much time is left with the ongoing collaboration between Air Jordan and Drake's OVO brand, but each one of their releases has been a banger—even if you're not a fan of the rapper. Much energy has gone into speculating about Drake's relationship with Jordan Brand (and the possibility that he's moving over to Adidas), but regardless of where he ends up, the sophisticated color combinations of black, white, and gold have graced a number of classic Jordans. These black and white versions of the Jordan 8 are elevated staples. These will never go out of style, even if Drake's with the three stripes this time next year.
Closed Toe: Sandal manufacturers such as KEEN have heeded the cries of stubbed toes by extending the sandal outsole up and around the front portion of the foot to create a rubber shield for ultimate toe protection. Closed toe sandals are ideal for hiking and fording fast rivers where there is a higher likelihood that you will bash your feet on a rock. Closed toe sandals offer superior toe protection with the only downside being that debris can collect in the toe area.
The one that fits. A particular brand or style might be popular right now, but next season, that popular brand or style could change. Your best bet is to try all the brands and styles available in your price range and pick the one that feels best. If you hear great things about a shoe, try it on. If it feels good, wear it. If not, try another style.
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.
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.
Nike’s Air Max line is a staple in the industry and it grows each year as the family expands. Some silhouettes stick around, like the Air Max 90, while others from more recent years fall away. This year, the brand introduced the Air Max 270. It was so named for the 270-degree air bubble at the heel, a design that seems poised to stand the test of time. One of the first releases of the sneaker was this Black Pack that employed black uppers as the neutral counter to a bevy of bright colors on the bubble. After all, that bubble is the heart of the sneaker. This pack is still the best usage of the silhouette to introduce it to the world, and these will be considered classics for the 270's archive.
Some manufacturers utilize sandals that are made from a combination of materials. This tends to be a man-made material for the soles along with fabric for the straps. The fabric straps can be quite comfortable as they will breathe a little better than leather will when it is hot outside. The other great benefit you will receive when you have sandals made from man-made materials is the ability to simply chuck them into the wash whenever they start to stink. After all, it is hot outside and you will be sweating in your cute sandals. Having something that you can easily wash will give you the comfort of being able to wear your cute sandals a little more often throughout the summer. You may find that with this ease of maintenance that you wear them more often.
You’re going to see every other end of year list place the Union L.A. Air Jordan 1s right near the top, and we totally get why: one of them certainly deserves it. The black, red, and white colorway is very dope and sits right in the new tradition, catalyzed by Acronym and perfected by Off-White, of remixing silhouettes of classic sneakers. This release was perfectly timed to hit all the best-of lists. Like a December movie release timed for Oscar season, Union's well-hyped collaboration was still fresh on everyone's minds while they wrote their lists. These are definitely one for the books, and we can't wait to see what their staying power proves to be.
*2nd pair must be of equal or lesser value. Excludes accessories and certain styles, including but not limited to adidas, Asics, Bear Paw, Birkenstock, Converse, Dr. Martens, select Fila styles, Keds, Koolaburra by UGG, Merrell, Rainbow, Reebok, Rockport, Saucony, Sperry, Teva, Tommy Hilfiger Kids’, online Timberland & Timberland Pro, plus all Nike styles.