As the year comes to a close, it’s always a good time to look back and recall those precious moments which made it even more special. If said moments happen to be concurrent with a sudden dip in your savings, then well, that’s just that—a mere coincidence.
Adidas Yeezy 350 V2 ‘Zebra’
Again, too many contenders here, from Pharell’s Hu series to the Deerupt and Dragonball Z collabs, but the Kanye kicks take top slot for their consistency at single-handedly dominating the covet charts for the entire year. Even the second release circa October 2018 found enough takers to wipe the shelves clean. Also, the shoe, in spite of its knit uppers, is solidly constructed, eye-catchingly standout and versatile in its appeal.
Asics Onitsuka (Nippon Made)
The famous Japanese brand entered our market this year and is already carving out a sizeable niche in the segment. The handmade Nippon series is the holy grail for sneaker enthusiasts and no collection is complete without a pair of these beauties, which epitomises the Japanese pursuit of perfection.
Nike Sean Wotherspoon Air Max 97/1
100 per cent style
There were many contenders from this sneaker behemoth – Para, George Pompidou Day, and umpteen Air Force 1 collabs — but I have chosen to go with this one for one simple reason: it marries two classic silhouettes in the Air Max series, the ’97 and the (OG) 1. Fusing the top of the 97s finished in colourblocked corduroy strips onto a white sole from the 1 series created a shoe that has never been made before.
Puma X Sega Rs-Sonic
Naughty and nostalgic
Puma’s RS series is an iconic shape, and the coming year will see many versions of it being launched. The Thunder Spectra was Puma’s biggest launch in the year gone by, which is perhaps why the RS-Sonic was overlooked. But with its colour-blocked chunky look, it was definitely a top cop, with some nostalgia to boot (provided you were born pre-1990s, that is). That said, another shoe from them which I believe will grow in popularity is the Shantell Martin Clyde which was among the best B&W shoes of last year.
Air Jordan Iv X Levi’s Nrg
A seemingly simple silhouette, one which revisited the Air Jordan IV Retro in denim uppers turned out to be the most searched and online-traded shoe last year. It managed to be sporty, with a cool urban edge to it. I am still in the market for one!
Nike X Off-White
Most smashing collab
How could we have a definitive list without a mention of this brand, whose popularity has spread like wildfire since its very inception? And, to be fair, while Off-White has their own range of kicks, their best stuff has emerged out of their collaboration with Nike on various models (AJ1, Blazer, Presto, Air Max 90) so, in a way, this here is a story of great shoes reimagined in style.
New Balance 574
NB is still finding their feet (pun intended) in the sneaker scene, but they do have some very cool college-lifeinspired silhouettes. The 574 remains a classic from their caché which, like the Porsche 911, remains largely unchanged over time. Most students in the US have worn a pair at some point, and it is particularly popular with Silicon Valley startup heads and CEOs alike. Unlike many other brands, a lot of their products are still US-made, something they declare with much pride. In other words, fewer chances of finding counterfeits on the market.
Reebok Concept Sample 001
Reebok was relatively quiet with their sneaker game, but the few pairs that they put out there definitely had their strengths. The Concept Sample series, both the 001 and 002, made it almost impossible to decide which one to feature here. Together, they are the best revisits of a retro style this past year. The 001 managed to command eyeballs without being chunky or in colour/pattern overkill mode, thereby showing that classics (these ones date back to 1983) can still make a contemporary impact.
Fila Disruptor X Nbnw
Best homegrown collab
A relatively new entrant, but already making big inroads into the Indian market, this Italian brand defined its look with bold patterns and oversized fonts, with chunky, ‘toothy’ soles. The ploy worked and Fila Disruptor truly broke onto the scene with much aplomb, and is now being seen as a serious lifestyle brand. The latest, NBNW (NorBlack NorWhite) Disruptor just managed to slip into this year’s list. Best yet, it is a collab with a local brand which gives us all the more reason to get behind it.
Balenciaga Triple S
Top of the luxury pile
If money wasn’t an issue, everyone would definitely own a pair of these: they don’t get any chunkier or cooler than this. In a crowded category, they haven’t just marked out their territory but have defined it in unprecedented ways, so much so that not even other brands in the same league have been able to keep up.