We actually put Louis Vuitton's Archlight on our list for 2017 and the shoe didn't even drop that year. At the time we put it on our list the name hadn't been made public and all we saw were pictures. Now that we've had a year to see the shoe in action, it's good enough to make the list again (this time it's at least it’s official). The Archlight is a truly amazing in sneaker design for a few reasons, but the biggest is the most obvious: the sole. At a time when heavy, chunky soles are in vogue, Louis Vuitton has created a sole that plays with the eye to different ends: This was all about reshaping the perception of the foot and making it far more dynamic. And it works. For reconfiguring how we see our own biology, the Archlight is definitely one of the best of the year.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
We’re calling it now: 2018 was the last year that Off-White sneaker collabs were able to maintain their omnipresent dominance, and one of the last releases of the year was also one of the best. We’ve seen earlier incarnations of the Zoom Fly before, but this blisteringly pink take is a neck-breaker. We’ve been living with Off-White sneaker remixes for more than a year, so the premise has become familiar and Abloh needed to raise the bar—this shade of pink does exactly that. There’s only so much that can piled onto a single design, and while this combination of “reimagined sneaker” with “bright color” approaches being too much, its just the right balance without going over.
A major skill of any holiday survivalist? Impeccable gifting. (And these must-have gifts & stocking stuffers are topping every wishlist.) Head to DSW this holiday season to find great gifts for those hard-to-shop-for people on your list (and of course, for yourself). Find shoes (and accessories) for Christmas, New Year’s Eve, those last-minute office parties, and so much more.
At first blush, the Travis Scott Air Force 1s with Nike don't seem like much. In fact, they might even seem familiar because the silhouette was introduced late last year. But if you take a closer look, you'll see how special this version actually is. The canvas-like upper lends itself beautifully to customization, something we've already seen work out gloriously. But the shoe goes even further. The unique piping all over the sneaker is colored 3M, and the swooshes are removable; each sneaker comes with a collection of different swooshes made from different materials that can be swapped out depending on your mood. These Travis Scott Air Force 1s end up representing our favorite kind of footwear—the kind where there's more than meets the eye and invites a personal touch.