It’s pretty funny that I’m writing up a “Top Sneakers of 2013″ list when I have my selections for the half-year point just a few posts back, but I digress. The second half of 2013 brought the sneaker world a number of releases that rounded out the bountiful first half of the year. It’s a shame I was at school for some of the key second half releases. Perhaps having a chance to see some of them in person and ranking them accordingly would have changed the composition of my ten picks. Enough with the banter though.
10. Air Jordan III Retro ’88
As much as I like the Air Jordan III in it’s original “White Cement” colorway, this release stood above the rest because of the commemorative factor. The Nike Air backtab was cool to see, but I’m not even talking about that. For me, Nike’s precision in dropping the sneaker at the exact time of Jordan’s free throw line dunk twenty-five years prior made this release an event. And at the end of the day, the colorway is one of the most solid out there.
9. Ronnie Fieg x Asics Gel Lyte III “Knicks”
Ronnie Fieg put in work this year with Asics, and the “Knicks” Gel Lyte III offering from the East Coast Project was my favorite of the bunch. As a proud New Yorker, the blue and orange does for me what no other color combination can do. And if the colors themselves weren’t enough, little details like the color-blocking on the sole and the 3M accents make this running silhouette seem just right in colors normally associated with basketball. There’s not much that I can say against a “Knicks” colorway, especially one with the attention to quality and premium materials that Ronnie brings to each and every footwear collaboration on which he works.
8. Nike Flyknit Racer “Multicolor”
The great: The craziness of the multicolor knit pattern juxtaposes the sleek Racer silhouette to make for one hell of a sight. The not so great: Because every shoe looks different, and I’m more partial to the predominately volt and teal pairs, it’s not a shoe that I would get without doing some crazy scouting. Thankfully, I already have my Volt Flyknit Trainers, so it’s not an issue, but getting the right pair of the Racers would be insane. (Picture via modernART on Sole Collector Forums)
7. Air Jordan V Retro “Grape”
I’ll admit…I went a little too crazy over the “Grape” Vs earlier in the year. Nonetheless, for all of the general release Air Jordan Retros that dropped this year, this one is king. Sure, there are gripes to be had when comparing this one and the ’06 version, but that white leather build with the purple and teal accents…nothing else like it. (Picture via Kicks Deals)
6. Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG “Knicks”
Although the team is currently in a state of shock, the Knicks allowed us New Yorkers to flourish earlier in the year. Plus, the sneaker world rallied around the team with better sneakers than ever. This was my favorite. In the 90s, it would be so paradoxical to love a Knicks-colored Air Jordan, but this iteration stood for Melo, and not Mike, so it got a pass. There have certainly been other sneakers out there with straight-up blue and orange color schemes, but the colors look nothing short of beautiful on the sleek, full-grain leather-comprised Air Jordan 1 silhouette. I said it on Christmas, and I’ll say it again: pretty sure I’ll never wear another pair of sneakers to the Garden now that I have and appreciate the “Knicks” Jordan 1.
5. Ronnie Fieg x New Balance 577 “Americana”
I don’t think any shoe has made me literally drop my jaw upon seeing it for the first time…that is, until I first laid eyes on this good ol’ New Balance. I have never really been into their inline stuff, but one thing that I have always said about New Balance is that they do wonders with navy and red. That notion had led me on a mission to find the perfect navy New Balance sneaker, and when I saw the “Americana” 577, I knew that I had found it. And seeing how the shoe came out in person, I was nothing short of thrilled. The effect on the pigskin makes it appear as if there are different shades of navy all over the shoe, and the red is bright as can be. Plus, the 3M hits and silver midsole splatter never hurt anyone. Ronnie Fieg had a lot of solid projects this year, but he saved his best for his last sneaker of the year. America’s colors at their finest. (Picture via Kith NYC)
4. Bape x UNDFTD x Adidas ZX5000
Applause to Bape for executing a camouflage pattern so well that even someone who hopped on the anti-camo bandwagon could rave for days on their UNDFTD and adidas collaboration. They paired the signature Bape style of the pattern with beige and green suede, patriotically colored stripes, and a gum sole. *Bang*…that’s the sound of your mind being blown. Nowhere near overstated, but not understated either thanks to all of the details around the camouflage. With this premium sneaker in tow, I’m doubting any future prospects of picking up a camouflage sneaker. Nothing can even come close to this gem that the streetwear triumvirate of Bape, UNDFTD, and adidas brought to the world in April.
3. Nike Free Inneva Woven SP “Photo Blue”
While I’m all for classic silhouettes, there’s definitely something to be said for footwear with more up-to-date technology that both look and feel incredible. That’s the category under which the Free Inneva Woven, especially in that pure White Label colorway, falls. From the time I first slid this stunning blue Inneva on, the shoe was a summer go-to for me. The Inneva still keeps its distinct look with any ensemble, and the comfort is some of Nike’s finest, especially with thin socks (and sockless, for those that go that route). Free 5.0, Dynamic Fit upper, and NSW leather insoles…while this shoe will eventually be surpassed by something in the future (as all tech-based models are), for now, the “Photo Blue” Inneva is one of this year’s best. Just wish I could wear the shoe in the winter too… (Picture via Concepts)
1. TIE: Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG “Royal” & “Bred”
It would be blasphemy for me to not put these two on the same level. While one’s 2013 version has been out close to the entire year and the other’s has yet to drop, the pickups for both will be for the same doubling-up purpose. In most cases, this circumstance would drop a sneaker down into the other half of my top shoes, but not with these 1s, as they possess two of, if not my favorite sneaker color schemes out there. It just does not get more versatile, stunning, and classic than smooth black leather with gleaming red or royal blue, especially on the sleek Air Jordan 1 model. If my pairs last long enough, I would, without a doubt, wear both the “Royal” and “Bred” 1s into my old age. I’m looking forward to the day Jordan Brand drops easy-to-find versions of both, but for now, I can definitely live in the moment. Just gotta make sure I have my 1s in tow. (Picture via Trav409 of Sole Collector Forums)
And that sums up my 2013 in sneakers. I may put another post on the blog if I feel like it between now and New Years’ Day, but if I don’t, make sure to keep up with me on my Twitter, Instagram (both @jakepulver), and on Sole Selectah as I enter a new chapter of my sneaker blogging ventures.