Nobody asked me, which I don’t say out of a need for pity but to put a context to how meaningful this is: it isn’t. So many people compile these lists and I thought, “What would I do?” So, here’s what I would do. I really just did this for myself, but this will probably give a lot of insight into my stylistic temperament (or lack thereof). And the conflicts within it.
10.) JORDAN IV Black/Red
There are two styles on this list that I wasn’t able to get my hands on, and this is the first. If you know my history with Jordans, you know I’m far behind. But the Black/Red IV is definitely high up on my “catch up” list. It’s going to take some quick and creative work for me to grab a pair of these before they sail up to the $300s. (Photo credit: Bartosz Wróblewski via SneakersAddict.com) (Personal note: these python Black/Red IVs that The Shoe Surgeon made trump everything. But a 1 of 1 doesn’t seem fair for a Top 10 list.)
9.) NIKE X COLE HAAN Lunargrand – Charcoal Grey Suede
Admittedly, this was an impulse buy – but the impulse came from the right place. A total sucker for hairy suede, I love expressive detailing especially in formally slanted styling. There’s a sense of humor behind these shoes. In the Kith offices sometimes we joke (?) that I’m trolling streetwear. These Lunar Grands are kind of a step in that direction. (Photo Credit: Cole Haan)
8.) NIKE Lunar Force One – White & Black Digi Camo
I couldn’t choose a color for this shoe, both the White and the Black Digi Camo are so awesome. In my self-education of the sneaker game, learning about the AF1 was an early lesson – how could it not be? It’s arguably the most classic sneaker of all time. And I’m a stickler for classics – I read Ancient Greek Lit in my free time. But any time a classic can be updated in a way that it enhances or adds a new chapter is always something that excites me. I doubt you’ll ever catch me in a classic pair of white AF1s – I think there’s very little I can’t pull off, but that would be one of the few pairs on that list. The LF1s, though, these I can rock without apology. (Photo Credits: Nike and Sole What?)
7.) NIKE Air Yeezy 2 – Black / Solar Red
This is an obvious choice and on everyone’s list. Maybe I have it here because who could take this list seriously if it weren’t on it? That being said, I do love the shoe. It’s modern without being too complicated. The few details on the shoe are bold without apology, but not excessive. Textural contrast is the name of the game, which is a choice I’ll always respect. There are a lot of bells and whistles, but it’s not out of hand. Also: a glow in the dark sole? Every day. (Photo Credit: mademoisellekdia.com, which seems to be a dead link.)
6.) RF X ASICS GT-II Super Red 2.0
The Super Red 2.0 has everything I need. The GT-II is a classic runner shape with subtle design elements. Ronnie’s choice of “Lightning Red” and pigskin work off of one another with a very loud color that’s being presented with the most luscious material. The grey sole offers a tonal contrast on top of the textural contrasts with perforation on the vamp and behind the ASICS stripes. It’s a statement, but, again, not excessive.
5.) NEW BALANCE M998GNR
I don’t know. There’s something about this shoe that just hits me to my core – and, no, it doesn’t make any sense. There’s nothing “special” about this shoe except that I love everything about it. Grey suede and navy mesh form a subtle base on which the brightest white laces and lining sing. 3M shows up in all the right places and two hits of red scream from the midsole. It’s a colorway that looks like everything a classic is, but the details prove its contemporary reality. Subtlety, volume, tone.
4.) NIKE Inneva Woven
If you are lucky enough to own a pair of Innevas, you know how special they are. If you don’t have a pair, you may still understand – but, more likely, you’re like me before I put them on and think we’re all insane. This sneaker is really something else. The way the upper is constructed allows it to literally form to the shape of your foot within the first 20 minutes of wear. It is literally the most comfortable shoe of all time, because it’s perfectly around your foot. Not to mention the subtly (I’m a broken record) of the black and grey broken up by the unique all woven upper. It also skips that little horn on the toe that all other Nike wovens seem to have.
3.) NIKE Free Powerlines Hyperfuse – Rainbow
Initially I joked I was going to buy these to wear to Pride next year, I ended up falling in love with these shoes. They replace subtlety for color. A lightly speckled free sole and mostly black upper allows the brightly colored stripes to really make a statement. The shape of the shoe, being a runner, is unobtrusive and slim. So, while making a statement allows to be perfectly functional in a way that other style sneakers aren’t. They stay comfortable all day – while remaining an awesomely fun option. These are one of those sneakers that I get jealous of people I see wearing them, until I remember my pair is safely at home on my shelf.
2.) NIKE Flyknit Trainer – White / Black
If you know me, you know I love Flyknits. I have as many pairs as I can get my hands on, but this is the one I wanted from the start. And this is the one that continues to allude me. In fact, I even had someone with a pair that was going to sell them to me and the deal kept falling through. Unreturned emails, no follow up. Really breaks my heart. But they’re a gorgeous shoe. The sleek runner silhouette allows the texture and process of the Flyknit construction to really show itself – and this white option makes for a shoe that super clean. Still hunting. (In other news, the IOA Flyknit is by far the best and craziest version. But, you know… Good luck with that.) (Photo Credit: Nike Store)
1.) RF X NEW BALANCE M1300NSL Salmon Sole
I would be lying if I told you that I wasn’t surprised these were at the top of my list, initially. When I first had to shoot these (for a shoot you’ve never seen pictures from, which is a good thing – the shoot was “no bueno”), I definitely thought they were cool, but was more attracted to other upcoming collabs. It wasn’t until after the release and I’d owned them for a while that I really started to appreciate these sneakers. I actually remember sitting in my bed editing photos for some other sneaker and seeing them out of the corner of my eye on my floor near the door and thinking “Whoa! What are those?!” It was like seeing them for the first time, and that’s what happened – I really saw them again. They have everything I’ve mentioned above. The navy upper sets a subtle tone that the bright blue and salmon sole play off of. It’s that play between light and dark, nubuck and mesh and leather, expected navy and unexpected pink and bright blue. Within them there’s an inherent contrast like – not to put too fine a point on it – this list.
Not a lot of lists, I’m sure, have the Yeezy 2, GR New Balances, and Cole Haans sharing space, but that’s where my head is at and that’s what I try to impress on freshman sneaker enthusiasts. Buy and wear what you like, not what’s “right” for you. If you wear it without apology, it will work. Everything else is just style suggestions from people who don’t know you and have no business making those decisions for you. Have fun.