Highsnobiety Creative Director of Commerce Herbert Hofmann Picks His 10 Favorite Sneakers of 2018
As this year winds down, we’ve recapped its highlights to bring you the best of 2018 in fashion, sneakers, music, movies, and more.
This year has been a tough one for sneaker lovers. While there were some amazing releases, there were many that felt like forced business plays. I had no trouble figuring out what to spend my money on and what wouldn’t feel cool after a month, once an overwhelming number of colorways had been pushed onto the market.
Thinking about all the sneakers that got released, you had to wonder: how many kicks could you buy in a year when many looked the same or similar? It became more a matter of which brand you chose to support, rather than the design or aesthetic of the thing you were buying.
I went a step further over the last two seasons, warning friends against buying certain chunky dad sneakers, knowing they would at some point be ashamed they’d ever worn such over-designed, over-advertised, and overpriced shoes, some of which often weren’t all that comfortable to wear.
At the start of the year, sneakers couldn’t be too big, too chunky, or too ugly, until the trend started finding its roots via existing models. The Nike Monarch and its update the M2K Tekno were the big surprises, while adidas came back with an easy-to-wear shape, the Yung-1, itself an update of the Falcon Dorf.
So, my selection below of this year’s best releases — if I even wore the kicks at all — reflects my feelings about the sneaker game in 2018.
My top 10 starts with the Stan Smith. The adidas classic was my go-to sneaker every second day, I’d guess. Seeing over-designed sneakers everywhere, I felt like taking things all the way back to the most clean and easy yet affordable silhouette that exists. It’s not about trying to be “too cool for school.” I admire new and bold designs. But at some point it’s not natural or genuine to be targeted from all sides by one trend.
This year, I also refreshed my love of the Converse Chuck Taylor — a classic that works with all outfits on all days. With the PORTER x Converse collaboration, I got a very simple shoe and a great collector’s piece that I haven’t dared to wear yet, even though the special cushioned sole is very inviting.
For the fun of it, this other Converse collaboration with JW Anderson made my list. I’m impressed how they came up with a felt version of the Chuck. And now is the season to wear this winter version of an evergreen silhouette.
The React Element 87 was a great surprise, and I quickly figured that everyone who liked the Tom Sachs Mars Yard also loved this silhouette.
When I first saw the React Element 87, I wondered about the dots on the sole, what their purpose was, but soon started loving the weirdness of it. The design runs counter to many existing trends and the slim-cut new colorways amazed me.
I wore two versions of this shoe in 2018: the first release and the “Green Mist” UNDERCOVER version. The first one I wore extensively at fashion weeks this summer.
The ACRONYM VaporMax is quite a stretch from what I usually like, but this release was great. It’s more of a collector’s item for me. I have never worn it, as neon, black, and white was never my favorite color combination, but it works on this shoe.
The COMME des GARÇONS x Nike Air Max 180 was a great success. I fell in love with it because it showed how oldies can be strengthened by choosing bold colors and combinations.
COMME des GARÇONS has shown it can be daring in this way, pushing through crazy and unknown shapes with Nike, but I admire the brand’s confidence to work with and appreciate Nike heritage, too. I have only worn the shoes once, as I want to save them.
The Kiko Kostadinov x ASICS GEL-Burz 2 “Forrest” colorway was a highlight this year. The previous colors were amazing, but this second drop was something else. The fact ASICS has chosen to work with such a young talent seems to be paying off, and it’s interesting to see how the design of Kostadinov’s releases can be so strong yet subtle.
This year’s ASICS Tarther Japan gave me a strong future vibe, pointing to a wave of heritage renditions and an appreciation of brand histories — going back to what brands used to be known for. This shoe is super light and great for running and dancing.
German brand A Kind of Guise did a good job on its adidas collaboration. The marbled terrazzo sole and marketing campaign gave me Italian summer vibes plus the most comfortable Boost sole. The release also came with a towel. The sneaker, brand, and collection all felt very aligned.
Finally, I want to highlight this Prada sneaker-shoe, which already found a spot in a “staff picks” article we published a few weeks ago. I don’t usually wear proper classy leather shoes, but this sneaker-shoe is beautifully designed, featuring a mix of sporty elements with an elegant shape.
This Novo has the potential to be a classic, while the all black and the one with burgundy details are also great designs.
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