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.
We’re glad you asked. Look at the bottom of the shoe. If there is one continuous sole heel-to-toe, that’s a unisole. If there are two distinct sole pieces — one at the front and one at the heel — that’s a split sole. Unisoles generally provide greater grip while the split sole is generally more flexible. This is kind of a big deal because wrestlers invariably prefer one over the other. Best advice, though, is to go with the one that feels best when you try them on and test them out a bit. If you find your choice doesn’t live up to expectations, try the other style the next time you buy shoes.
Buying shoes online is a pain in the ass. Even if you measure your feet correctly, shoe fits vary widely, so you’ll inevitably have to ship a few pairs back before you find the right one. Try buying several styles in several sizes at once, so you can just make one big return shipment instead of five trips to UPS. Most shoe sites are fine with this, but check site policy before you go wild.
Kendrick Lamar moving from Reebok to Nike was a natural because Nike gave him the Cortez, and nary has a combination of sneaker and artist felt more seamless. Kendrick used the opportunity to put out a series of colorways inspired by his music and evolving identity, offering a range of aesthetics. The Cortez Kenny III is the best one yet. Black, white, and red play off classic sneaker colorways, but Lamar injected the sneakers with details like Chinese characters embroidered into the toe and "BET IT BACK" printed on the tongue ribbon. It's a brilliant pairing.
Huaraches: A recent arrival to the mainstream market but tried-and-true for centuries is the huarache sandal. A mix between a flip and a hiking sandal, these ultra-light sandals are composed of a simple rubber sole (typically Vibram) and narrow webbing that splits the big toe like a flip and hugs the heel and cinches like a hiker. The simplicity of these sandals, with the omission of top and midsoles, makes huaraches the closest option to going barefoot. Some folks run 100-mile endurance races in these, but the weight and design also makes them great as a packable and versatile sandal.
This year saw the wide release of Adidas’s Futurecraft 4D, a true advancement in sneaker technology. Adidas has solved the problems around 3D printing, using a fast and efficient process to mass produce soles in a sustainable way. Each sole contains up to 12,000 "struts," or printed arms, that have been carefully and individually calibrated to create the most supportive sole possible. The 4D carries with it a massive price tag, but all advances come at a cost. The shoes look amazing and are honestly worth every penny.
Best in class construction- The bedrock of a quality shoe is one that promotes healthy, supported feet. The original BIRKENSTOCK footbed, renowned for expert construction that’s been perfected over decades, is the standard of custom comfort. Created with optimal materials to provide overall support and cushioning—cork, jute, plush EVA and suede, among others—our footbed also isolates individual areas to ensure that different regions of the foot are properly served—the toes enjoy extra room for natural movement and foot alignment, and the heel is cradled and cushioned through its deep cup.
Flips: If lying low is the goal, a standard pair of flip flops, or thongs, can’t be beat. A pair slips on and off in seconds, packs easy and weighs little. In terms of comfort, leather flips are tough to beat after some breaking in but they can become slick when wet. Rubber top soles don’t compare comfort-wise, but are more utilitarian.