Last year was truly a memorable one for the world of footwear. As much as I tried to exercise restraint in entering numerous lucky draws for limited releases, and waiting online for a sneaker drops (What, you thought we get every single sneaker handed to us over at Highsnobiety?), in the end I succumbed to the many appealing releases of 2016.
In fact, most of my list is still able to be purchased at select stores. What really drew me in this year was that so many releases hit two of my most favorable criteria — they were either re-releases of old models I cherished as a teenager; sometimes even re-designed/updated versions, or they were hybrids of past signatures; something as simple as swapping the sole, when done correctly, can be so effective.
It is no secret that I love things in monochrome, but for 2016 with all the new and exciting collaborations, some color has slipped through. I would really have loved to add the KITH Ultra Boost Mids to the list, but unfortunately they’re still in transit from NYC. Also, you’re probably thinking I forgot about the adidas all-black Futurecraft release, right? I will mention that those would have been on the top of the list, but again, I wasn’t able to acquire a pair! Now without further ado, here are my top sneakers of 2016.
10. A Bathing Ape BAPESTA
Bought this one for nostalgic reasons. Everyone has had their Bathing Ape days, and yes I had a few pairs of the multi-coloured patent options from back in the days. No shame to that. Stoked that BAPE re-released the BAPESTA in all-white and all-black colorways. I mean, it is better to wear the less ‘loud’ options when you’re stepping into your thirties.
9. adidas Originals by HYKE SEEULATER
Another under the radar release of the year. HYKE’s edition of the SEEULATER silhouette is a radical one by stripping all of its original upper details. The buckle design is simple yet functional, and in a way that improves the fit and form. Very glad they made these in Men’s sizes.
8. fragment design x Nike Air Max LD Zero
The Flyknit Racer was my travel pick last time around due to its weight and breathability, but this year’s choice would be the all-black colorway of the Air Max LD Zero because of its versatility. A great all-around shoe to fit all types of travel situations. Have to give props to Hiroshi-san for these hybrid ideas.
7. Gosha Rubchinskiy x Vans Half Cab
A great everyday shoe — light and durable. This is actually my first pair of Half Cabs, as I’m more of a fan of the Old Skool, but the colorway wins it for me. I also love the fact that they kept branding as minimal as possible (only on the insole).
6. NikeLab Air Zoom Albis
The colorway choice might surprise a lot of people (due to my almost monochrome picks from 2015), but you just have to get the OG colorway when it comes to ACG. The 2016 update is a lot more streamlined than its origin, but it still captures the model’s unique DNA. The Hyperfuse upper reduces the overall weight of the shoe, while working against the sole unit to make the shape a lot more aggressive than its predecessors.
5. Kim Jones x NikeLab Air Zoom LWP
Can’t believe these are still sitting on shelves… These are easily one of the most comfortable sneakers I have. The Hyperfuse and leather lacing is a nice contrast to the overall aesthetic. The latter also improves the fit in working with the slip-on upper design. Although it doesn’t remotely look like the original LWP, Nike did a great job with the overall design direction. And the bonus in the pack is probably the shoe bag, Google it!
4. adidas ACE 16+ Purecontrol Ultra Boost
As a big fan of hybrids, these are definitely one of the better combinations between football (soccer for the US audience) and running soles. The overall fit is perfect, which prevents your foot from sliding on the footbed. A super important factor with slip-on models. The simple colorway also adds to the wearability overall. Although I also like the Predator-inspired variant that was just released.
3. Rick Owens x adidas Mastodon
‘Mastodons are any species of extinct mammutid proboscideans in the genus Mammut’ – Great name by the way, but not sure why, maybe because of the texture and the colorway?. The beefed up adidas Pro Model looks pretty intense with Rick Owens’ design notes. Perhaps the only RO x adidas release where you don’t have to buy the full outfit to make them work.
2. Riccardo Tisci x NikeLab Air Zoom Legend
The most underrated release of the year. The silhouette reminds me of the Nike HTM2 Run Boot back in 2010 – a release that I regrettably did not purchase. It also bears very similar resemblance to the NikeCraft Lunar Underboot Aeroply Experimentation Research Boot Prototype by Tom Sachs (very long name…) – a design that was never released, so I’m glad that Nike re-touched the design draft with Riccardo.
1. ACRONYM x NikeLab Air Presto Mid
Easily my top pick for 2016. I am biased due to the technical details, so this year’s number one will have to go to ACRONYM with their signature design cues again. This second collaboration was less about deconstruction but more about adding details that’ll enhance the shoe. The zippers and guards on the sides are definitely crucial addition. I still remember my Presto Cage had all kinds of frayed bits on the sides, so Errolson definitely thought this through!
For more of our favorite sneakers, be sure to check out Highsnobiety Founder David Fischer’s selection, in addition to Highsnobiety Print Magazine Editor-in-Chief Pete Williams’ top picks.