Nike’s contribution to sneaker culture is hard to briefly sum up. Starting as a brand that catered to runners, Nike’s catalog of game-changing designs is largely unmatched, and we’ve seen the Beaverton-based camp contribute so much to today’s climate of limited releases and collaborations that Highsnobiety covers day in and day out.
Although it’s still early in the year, we’ve decided to recap several of the strongest Swoosh drops, with the intention of updating this Nike hub as 2017 continues. From partnerships with longtime partners like COMME des GARÇONS to limited NikeLab releases, here are some of the best Nike sneakers of the year so far.
COMME des GARÇONS brought an avant garde approach to the classic Nike Dunk, adding clear panels to the upper. The shoe was first unveiled at the label’s men’s show at Paris Fashion Week last summer, and follows up on many other partnerships between the Japanese fashion house and the Beaverton-based athletic brand. The sneaker is as much a display piece as it is a pure heater on-foot.
As a follow up on ACRONYM’s Lunar Force 1, the German technical brand led by Canadian designer Errolson Hugh once again takes on the Air Force 1, arriving in the form of the high-top Air Force 1 Downtown. Tactical details run throughout, including a milspec strap closure, and militaristic branding, while quality leather lofts up the design. Three total colorways were made available as part of a limited NikeLab release.
Jordan Brand’s run of remastered 1s continued with the “Royal” colorway, as a follow-up to well-received drops like “Bred” and “Shattered Backboard” versions from late 2016. While many Jordan heads agree that OG Chicago colorways are among the most timeless Jumpman releases, the “Royal” 1s still remain entrenched in the upper echelons of Jordan folklore, despite never being worn by Michael Jordan during a regulation basketball game.
Nike’s Air Max 1 first released in 1987, famously revolutionizing the sneaker industry and inaugurating one of the most influential sneaker series ever. The “30th Anniversary” model is a faithful recreation of the original model that was created by designer Tinker Hatfield, taking inspiration from the Center Georges-Pompidou in Paris. Hardcore Air Max fans will also notice the toe box is shaped more similarly to the original version than previous retro releases.
Another example of the fruitful relationship between COMME des GARÇONS and Nike, this runway-ready version of the Vapormax featured a sock-like fit and branded tape along the forefoot in place of a lace closure. Two versions were teased in all-black and ice blue, to complement mainline versions of the sneaker which Nike is calling an Air Revolution.
After a considerable hiatus from shelves, the Air Max 97 returned recently, first as a limited Italian-only release in late December 2016, then as a wider drop in April 2017. Designed by Nike’s Christian Tressler, the iconic, streamlined silhouette first landed in an OG silver color scheme, followed swiftly by a gold version.
Perhaps the most momentous Jordan news since the Nike sub-brand’s Supreme collaboration in 2015, legendary graffiti artist Brian “KAWS” Donnelly served up his own take on the IV. The resulting sneaker is bare of any traditional plastic details, and instead is entirely comprised of premium grey suede, right down to the cage. The pared-down color scheme pays homage to KAWS’ Companion characters, and is finished with a glow-in-the-dark outsole. Naturally, KAWS’ “XX” is featured boldly on the heel in place of Jordan’s classic “Air” marking.
In the vein of Supreme’s other jarring Nike choices, like the Foamposite and Air Max 98, the New York City skate brand came correct with a pack of three Air More Uptempos in April 2017. While the black choice was by far the most sensible, additional red and gold choices rounded out the pack, which retailed exclusively online.
All new for 2017, the ACG.07.KMTR features a four-way stretch water-resistant upper shell that derives inspiration from parachutes, working with a draw-cord closure to conform to the foot. The forefoot fit can be adjusted via a Fidlock magnetic buckle. The functional sole unit is taken from another past ACG project, the Nike Tallac Flyknit ACG.
Reprising the 2012 partnership between Nike and designer Tom Sachs, the Mars Yard Shoe returned in 2016 in a slightly updated version. Replacing the original mesh upper with a slightly more durable canvas material, the release was held in New York City at an obstacle course-inspired installation, where attendees had to complete a gauntlet of tests before receiving their pairs.
So those are the best Nike sneakers of 2017 so far. We’ll update this page with more details, so be sure to check back throughout the year.
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- Lead image: IG @thaliastlot