Adidas is currently engaged in a global push to reduce its carbon footprint, and one of the more interesting ways the brand has approached the issue is to be hyper-local. The new AM4 program underscores the brand's abilities at the SpeedFactories, which are manufacturing centers that operate in each of the global markets. In 2018, Adidas has toured around to major cities releasing local versions of a new BOOST runner calibrated for the aesthetics of each city. The shoes may not be the most aesthetically appealing pairs, but they promise a new future of manufacturing and that's huge.
*2nd pair must be of equal or lesser value. Excludes accessories and certain styles, including but not limited to adidas, Asics, Bear Paw, Birkenstock, Converse, Dr. Martens, select Fila styles, Keds, Koolaburra by UGG, Merrell, Rainbow, Reebok, Rockport, Saucony, Sperry, Teva, Tommy Hilfiger Kids’, online Timberland & Timberland Pro, plus all Nike styles.
If you know Bape, you know it rips heritage designs from other companies, but that's also sort of their thing. Also sort of why we love them. The Bapesta is a shameless rip-off of the Air Force 1, and while Bape consistently puts Bapestas out year after year, it's far rarer that we see them in Bape's iconic "1st Camo." The 1st Camo is the graphic camouflage that made Bape famous, so the combination of camo and sneaker promised a firestorm of hype. And the shoes made good on that promise. Even if you're not caught in the hype, they have a unique charm to them and will ultimately prove to be one of the best releases of the year.
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.
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.
It’s been more than a decade since The Devil Wears Prada, and we’ve traveled more than time since that window opened into the fashion industry. With Jordan’s new women’s brand up and running, Vogue left its mark on this duo of Jordan IIIs. Each has a unique texture that offers real depth, but the achievement is a women’s line that’s strong and expressive, while providing sneakers that are covetable without being desperately "girly." These represent a cultural win on multiple fronts.
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.
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.
The sentiment that Real Men Wear Pink was proven with the Comme des Garçons Air Max 180s. In a trio of pink scale sneakers, each version is fresher than the last. It offers a range of executions, from the subtlest black and pink to a full-on exploration of how many shades can fit on a single shoe. They sold out immediately and continue to break necks for those who were lucky enough to grab pairs.
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.
It's no secret that the Air Max 270 Bowfin is one of the stranger silhouettes that released this year, but it suddenly made sense when we caught the Atomic Violet colorway. The shoes are wild: The uppers are a mess of materials with an attached tongue, a ribbon-constructed lacing system that culminates in a lacelock, and even a ripstop top that acts as a shield for the rest of the shoe. The sole is a triumph on its own: texture and line come together with a bright mudguard, and then a 270-degree air bubble at the heel. There are subtler colorways of the kicks, but with a blend of lavender, pink, mustard, white, and black, the details of the shoe are elevated and we get to see what makes it truly unique.
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.