From the ground up

Looking back on Highsnobiety Editor-in-Chief Pete Williams’ Top 10 Sneakers of 2014.

Two years ago we made the decision to take a slightly different approach to the practice of year end sneaker lists, limiting our top picks to only those sneakers we actually wore that year. Any footwear that didn’t touch our feet was off limits. As with the 2012 and 2013 editions, the 2014 lists will follow that same rule: only sneakers we actually acquired and wore in 2014 qualify for our Top 10.

Read on to see Pete Williams top 10 picks of the year.

10. adidas Stan Smith Consortium

When we first started doing our personal Top 10s in 2012, I did not list a single release from adidas. I had a few cool pairs, but it was simply not a brand I was wearing at the time. The Stan Smith was always one of those classics that I never had, so when these were reintroduced in premium leathers, I got right into it. I can’t remember the last time I was wearing clean white leather sneakers, but these really took hold through 2014. The Concepts collab was also absolutely incredible.

9. KITH x Filling Pieces Low Top

Another new brand to the list is Filling Pieces. Another one that took my attention and also that of our readers, winning breakthrough brand of the year. Their signature arrow style is a strong one, and their quality to price ratio is really hard to touch. This murdered out colorway (or triple black as they say these days) in collaboration with KITH was a nice luxurious take. Bottom line, FP gives you that designer sneaker feel without actually wearing “designer” sneakers. There’s bright future for these guys.

8. adidas ZX Flux “Berlin Exclusive”

As mentioned previously, this was really the first year I got into wearing adidas heavily, and as you go through, you’ll notice nearly half my choices are from the brand with the three stripes. What a massive shift. And it’s not just me, our readers also voted adidas as the most relevant brand of 2014. The ZX Flux was the shoe that pushed them through and those custom miZXFLUX options took it to a whole other level.

7. OTH x Vans “Black Crab” Sk8-Hi

OTH and Vans are back in the mix with this incredible rendition of the Sk8-Hi. Designed in partnership with chef Chuck Hughes, the shoe was designed as a waterproof cooking shoe, however it’s essentially bulletproof and I beat the hell out of these. Rain, snow, soot (yes walking through a burned down forest) these took it all in stride, and with a quick wipe look almost as good as new. The Sk8-Hi is probably my all-time favorite silhouette and these killed it. This years Stussy Sk8-His also saw heavy rotation.

6. Ronnie Fieg x Asics Gel Lyte V “Mint”

After several years of dominating the space, Ronnie Fieg has a lot of competition on the Asics front these days. In a year that the Gel Lyte V was popping up everywhere – Commonwealth, Offspring, UNDFTD all had fantastic versions – Ronnie’s “Mint” version was the one that I wore most. Fresh, comfortable and clean, it’s a colorful shoe that’s easy to wear. I do mostly black and white, so this was my go-to for a brighter take.

5. Air Jordan Future

In terms of all new silhouettes, the Jordan Future was an amazing step forward for a brand steeped in retros. Mixing the tried and true Jordan 11 sole with an innovative woven upper was just the right blend of old and new and a great shoe to wear. The woven leather version was a further testament to Jordan’s move towards a more upscale market (which we will see more of in 2015 with the remastered series.)

4. adidas Originals Tubular

By the time the Tubular hit I was a full on adi convert. When photos first surfaced… I didn’t want to like this shoe, but I got a pair early, and as soon as I started wearing them I was hooked. I quickly grew into the look and now, looking at everything else that came out in 2014, it’s honestly one of the best new silhouettes of the year. Yes, it borrows heavily from the Y-3 Qasa, but making this style accessible and affordable is a bold step to the future. Bravo, adidas.

3. Concepts x New Balance 997 “Rosé”

In what was generally a strong year for New Balance, my favorite of the past 12 months is this Concepts 997. Premium suedes, reflective croc and a bold colorway set atop a great ‘Made in USA’ silhouette. Simply put, these were a breath of fresh air. Concepts released ton of smart footwear in 2014, but no shoe illustrates their prowess better than this pink and grey NB, hell, they launched a new store with it.

2. adidas Pure Boost

This one really, really grew on me. Admittedly when I first received the Pure Boost, I didn’t think too much of the shoe. I’d been wearing the original Energy Boost quite often as a casual runner, and sort of overlooked the Pures. That is, until I tried them on..  Probably the most comfortable sneaker I’ve ever worn, wearing the Pure Boost is like walking on marshmallows. And they look great in clean black and white. Then the Primeknit version hit. Incredible shoe.

1. Nike SB x Air Jordan 1 “Lance Mountain”

As with last year, a Jordan 1 was once again my only MUST HAVE sneaker of the year. This one simply hit all the right bases with a slew of references to classic skate and sneaker culture. Gimmicky without being tacky, it’s an overall awesome release. Admittedly these ones have not yet made it out of the house, but the Lance Mountain Jordan 1s are my number one sneaker of 2014. I promise I’ll skate them in 2015.

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