Nike Air VaporMax Flyknit ‘Triple Black’
The VaporMax had been in the works for a long time (seven years in fact), and it shows. Nike really perfected the concept of Air Max with this one and the Triple Black release was the very best of them all – stealthy!
Nike Air Max 1 OG ‘Sport Red’
Alongside the latest evolution of the see-through sole (see above), the Swoosh took it all the way back to the beginning with a reissue of the original Sport Red Air Max 1 to celebrate 30 years of Air.
Daniel Arsham x adidas New York Present
Visual artist Daniel Arsham made a strong debut to his collaborative career with adidas earlier this year, but it was this more recent follow-up that really grabbed my attention. I love the way he modernised a retro shape into a techy, boost-infused runner.
adidas YEEZY Desert Rat 500
Just as enthusiasm for his original designs began to wane, West brought something new to the table with the YEEZY 500. Building off an old Kobe Bryant signature model midsole with an upper that looks like a mash-up of a Prada sneaker and those chunky-AF skate shoes every 14-year-old used to have, ‘Ye has really flexed on us with this one.
Skepta x Nike Air Max 97 SK
This one was a polariser. There were many who would have bought a Nike x Skepta collab no matter what it looked like, and there are just as many who baulked at the sight of this iridescent Air Max. But it’s the story behind the shoe – its colourway taken from the first Air Max that Junior Adenuga saved up money to buy – that lands it a place here.
NikeLab Air Max Woven Boot
Talking of mash-ups, step forward the collab bringing the bullseye emoji. Recalling the Desert Chukka shape but fitting a full-length Air unit down below made for one hell of a shoe to drop in Air Max month. And I’m calling this SOPH.net-inspired rainbow colourway as the best of the lot.
Palace x adidas Palace Pro Chewy
The original Palace Pro returned this year in signature form for UK skate heavyweight Chewy Cannon. The silhouette dons his name across the sidewall in gold foil, but it’s the neon green semi-translucent vulcanised sole contrasted with black nubuck that really makes this shoe a standout for me.
Nike Classic Cortez Kenny Moore
Nike reissued a prototype of the first shoe it ever made – the weight of the history in that story alone is enough to get this shoe a place in the list. But when you factor in the clean, no-logo design, this one starts pushing for top spot.
Reebok x Footpatrol Workout Plus ‘Blackbuck’
The Workout Plus celebrated 30 years in style with some great collabs this year, but Footpatrol’s ‘Blackbuck’ version was the pick of the bunch. Monochrome suede, leather and pony skin, plus plenty of logos made for an excellent execution of a historic sneaker.
Patta x Vans ‘Mean Eyed Cat’
It feels like this was the year we really embraced bold logos and text on sneakers. It was also the year that Vans Old Skool made its mark on the masses. Both come together here for a clean, but in-your-face aesthetic. Plus, who doesn’t love a sequel?
UNDEFEATED x Nike Air Max 97 OG
These Complexcon-exclusive 97s were the best of many collaborations the model saw this year. UNDEFEATED’s signature marriage of olive green and orange is a beautiful thing and that ticker-tape branding around the upper is so perfect I can’t believe it hasn’t been done before.
adidas Ultra Boost Mid ‘Run Thru Time’
This royal blue runner came as one half of a retrospective pack for adidas’ all-conquering boost technology. And it shows how far The Brand with Three Stripes has come: bold colourway, techy features, sharp shape – someone find me a pair, please.
Reebok Workout Vintage
The year started in fresh fashion with this classic shape being treated to a premium makeover. It’s already one of my favourite silhouettes, but it’s incredible how much upgraded, off-white leather elevated this shoe.
Converse x Neighborhood One Stars
As a shoe with serious cult clout in Japan, the One Star getting reworked by Shinsuke Takizawa’s NEIGHBORHOOD just felt right. As usual, they kept things monochrome but threaded interesting details throughout – in my opinion, the Pentagram One Star is perfect.
Nike Air Max CB 94 Low
As far as Nike’s retro basketball silhouettes are concerned, the Air More Uptempo got a lot of hype this year, meaning the CB 94 didn’t get as much traction as it should have. But the Gym Red was a standout shoe of the year from where I’m standing.
Air Max 95 LX
This pastel-lead take on the rainbow-coloured Nike Air Max 95 from last year’s Pony Fur Pack made for a great end-of-year release – they’ll be ideal for when spring hits.
Nike Air Max 97 ‘Neon’
Back in the day, the neon Air Max 95s were the creps to covet. The fact that Nike treated its Air Max 97 silhouette with this colourway made for a dream come true.
adidas Originals EQT Support 93/17
If you talk about the booming boost trend, this is the shoe that brings it all together. Looking like a lovechild between a yacht and a spaceship with the feeling of a king-sized pillow for your feet. Definitely the most comfortable sneaker in my collection.
Alexander Wang x adidas Originals AW RUN
Thanks in huge part to Virgil Abloh, the deconstruction game is strong right now. And for me, the best deconstructed sneaker award goes to Alexander Wang x adidas Originals AW RUN. Crazy looks, crazy comfortable and definitely my favourite so far from the high fashion wunderkind and The Brand with Three Stripes.
Nike Vandal High Supreme Nylon
Back to the Future’s Doc Brown wore these in bright orange – what else do you need to know? The Vandal got a re-release in the OG colourway, taking its cues from 80s NASA spacesuits – that story made it an instant win.
Off-White x Nike Air Presto
And so, we come to the number one pick (drum roll, please). The unanimous choice among the Looped team was Nike and Virgil Abloh’s ‘The Ten’ project. Although there was arguing when it came to choosing which exact model, after much deliberation, we agreed on the Presto – which happens to be the choice pick of the man behind the project, too. From the designs to the year-long marketing campaign that preceded The Ten, no other sneaker drops came close. Virgil, we salute you.