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.
A-Cold-Wall*’s Air Force 1 from 2016 is this writer’s favorite sneaker of the last decade, so any related follow-up is going to land squarely on this list. What made the original such an incredible pair was how it took fresh out-of-the-box lacing and turned that into the default for a pair of Forces—it formalized a counter-culture aesthetic into the only option. The Low version released at the end of this year continues the same lacing pattern with a mostly smooth upper that approximates the panels of the high. We’ve lost some of the textures off the original, but ACW has hit it out of the park again thanks to their grasp on how sneaker culture interacts with the wider world.
At first blush, the Travis Scott Air Force 1s with Nike don't seem like much. In fact, they might even seem familiar because the silhouette was introduced late last year. But if you take a closer look, you'll see how special this version actually is. The canvas-like upper lends itself beautifully to customization, something we've already seen work out gloriously. But the shoe goes even further. The unique piping all over the sneaker is colored 3M, and the swooshes are removable; each sneaker comes with a collection of different swooshes made from different materials that can be swapped out depending on your mood. These Travis Scott Air Force 1s end up representing our favorite kind of footwear—the kind where there's more than meets the eye and invites a personal touch.
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.
You’re going to see every other end of year list place the Union L.A. Air Jordan 1s right near the top, and we totally get why: one of them certainly deserves it. The black, red, and white colorway is very dope and sits right in the new tradition, catalyzed by Acronym and perfected by Off-White, of remixing silhouettes of classic sneakers. This release was perfectly timed to hit all the best-of lists. Like a December movie release timed for Oscar season, Union's well-hyped collaboration was still fresh on everyone's minds while they wrote their lists. These are definitely one for the books, and we can't wait to see what their staying power proves to be.
If you are a real shoe lover, an occasional online purchase may not be enough, and it might make sense to sign up for a shoe subscription service. Sites like JustFab and ShoeDazzle offer memberships for about $40 a month. You get to shop their picks at discounted prices monthly, or you can save what you paid in membership fees to use toward future shoe purchases whenever you want to liven up your wardrobe. Usually, you can opt to skip months and not pay the subscription fee when you really can’t afford it. There are also shoe subscription services that cater to more specific interests – for example, Sneakertub.
For many sneakerheads, the Black Cement 3 is considered the greatest sneaker of all time. A combination of silhouette, colorway, social significance, and basic wearability created a perfect storm. The shoes were made available to the public again for the first time since 2011, introducing a new generation to the GOAT sneaker and letting the rest of us refresh our collection.
We don't want to confuse the two very different trends of Dad Shoes and Chunky Shoes, but the Balenciaga Triple-S represents the peak for both of them. Those trends are petering out, but we cannot deny that the Triple-S has had a massive impact, and the reverberation continues. Each chunky sneaker released since the Triple-S seems like a weak knock-off of the sneaker that truly set the tone. The year has also seen the silhouette develop and change in both look and price because the shoes sell out as quickly as Balenciaga can make them. It's truly a phenomenon.
Wrestling shoes have a few key qualities that you should look for: Lightweight, flexibility, sole grip and ankle support. These qualities generally improve the higher up the price scale you go, but again, as beginners, you shouldn’t be concerned with getting the best shoes ever; you should be concerned with getting the best shoes for yourself at your current skill level. There are many quality shoes with modest price points that are built to be both durable and effective as a wrestler grows from beginner to intermediate levels.
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