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.
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The Skylon 2 is anything but new, yet we added it to this list because Nike brought it back at just the right time. The shoe is pure retro; Nike hasn't changed it a bit. That intensity of retro styling (everything from the synthetic suede to the color gradation on the quarter) might be too much for those who aren't hip to the trend. Or those who just don't want to remember the late '80s and early '90s when sneakers like the Skylon were the wave. But on the tail end of the retro runner craze, this was the right moment to dive deep into that nostalgia and bring the Skylon 2 right back to the forefront. Plus, the color combos are amazing.
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.
Easily one of the most hyped sneakers of the year, the duo of black and white Air Prestos from Nike and Off-White were also one of the best. Virgil Abloh snapped with the original Air Presto from his "The Ten" collection last year, and, while the design was initially overlooked, it has since proven itself to be one of the most progressive from the collection. The complexity of the silhouette lends itself well to the subtleties of black and white to let the textures come through. Fans lapped up both colorways, and many of the white pairs have become canvases for homemade customs to near unanimous positive results.
2018 will go down as the year Nike and Jordan Brand started thinking about the women’s market seriously. Jordan created an entire sub brand devoted to their female customers, and launched pieces with the “1 Reimagined” program. Ten new takes on the Jordan 1 and Air Force 1 offer complete shakeups of these classic designs, shuffled up for a female customer base. Don’t let the gender designation get in the way; some of these deserve full market distribution.
We don’t love the high fashion trend of distressed sneakers: it makes sense on denim, and maybe even a top or two, but aren’t we supposed to keep our sneakers as crispy white as possible? (Yes. The answer is yes.) But there’s something about these Vetements Reeboks that flip the script and make for an amazing pair of kicks. Maybe it’s the retro silhouette, the nostalgic colorway, or the contrast of the distressing, but all together the look is insane (as is the price tag). These have hardly turned into a fan favorite, and even though you’ll probably never find us dropping a stack to get them them, they’re more than deserving of their spot on this list.
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