2018 can boast some truly innovative steps in sneaker design, and the DMX Fusion 1 from Reebok and Pyer Moss is squarely in the pantheon of that arena. The silhouette itself is like a dozen other sock runners, but the lacing system is almost mind-boggling. The laces start at the very toe and help inform the shape of the vamp as they pull back to the quarter. Once at the quarter they crisscross a few times through loops, which are rigged so low on the shoe, they're almost at the sole. The laces then wrap around the heel before coming back to the tongue for closure with a lacelock. It's a complicated but refreshing system, and it opens the door for a lot of customization.
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.
When you get to the level of Alexander Wang, there's a confidence of design that seeps through into every piece. That confidence is on full display here. On paper the Puff Trainer shouldn't make any sense: the shoe features a quilted puffer upper with lacing that attaches to the sole and ties behind the heel, a sock entry (usually reserved for speedy, summer-based runners), and a color combination of black, maroon, and neon green. But when expertly balanced with appropriate restraint and flourish, the shoes are an achievement. Not to mention the sole unit is a show-stopper on its own. The sneaker is impressive from toe to heel, and is far and away one of the best offerings from 2018.
Hik­ing: Going big in san­dals require some strap­ping for secu­ri­ty. Teva and Cha­co are the most com­mon tech­ni­cal hik­ing or trekking san­dals. Unlike flips, hik­ing san­dals have straps that wrap around the heel and typ­i­cal­ly incor­po­rate a cinch buck­le for a snug fit on all types of ter­rain. Usu­al­ly equipped with a more rugged, hik­ing-shoe-style out­sole, such as Vibram rub­ber, hik­ing san­dals also have a stiffer mid­sole that makes dif­fi­cult tasks like scram­bling or launch­ing canoes safer. The toe on hik­ers is usu­al­ly more robust and some peo­ple pre­fer siz­ing up a half-size for a big­ger buffer between their lit­tle pig­gies and obsta­cles. The “Hik­ing” style san­dal has been wide­ly adopt­ed by kayak­ers and rafters after years of los­ing flip flops in rapids and twist­ing ankles dur­ing portages.
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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.
A sleeper hit, the LeBron 10 made in collaboration with John Elliott is pitch-perfect to Elliott’s aesthetic. The JE brand is known for taking daily staples and elevating them, and rather than purely elevating the LeBron 10, Elliott distilled the sneaker to its constituent parts, taking the shoe from an earlier era and bringing it into the present. After that work was done, he went about utilizing the panels and pieces in black and white to create depth and implicit texture. At a quick glance it may not appear that there’s much to these kicks, but there are layers to them and they deserve recognition.
We know there are a lot of Jordan IIIs on this list (It makes sense; it is one of the very best basketball sneakers of all time.), but these "International Flight" Jordan IIIs are amazing and worthy of attention. They're not doing anything crazy—on the contrary, it's a colorway that seems like it should have released years ago. What's surprising about this sneaker is the off-white leather that dominates the upper. Jordan Brand is known for its combinations of white, black, red, and blue, so these more subtler tones add a sort of aged quality to the look in a way that's more than welcome. These are by no means classics, but they deserve recognition.
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