From the ground up

The great thing about street fashion is that it means different things to different people. One man’s hype is another man’s crap, and that’s what keeps things interesting.

Every year, we take the time to round up the 10 favourite sneakers of key members of staff here at Highsnobiety, in order to give you an impression of what we’ve been wearing this year. We’ve already brought you the choices of our founder David Fischer and our print editor Pete Williams, and if there’s one thing for sure, it’s that we have a lot of competing styles and tastes among our staff.

Read on for the top 10 sneakers of 2015 from co-founder and head of Selectism, Jeff Carvalho. And stay tuned for our final installment, coming soon.

10. Nike Air Maxim 1 APC

Go ahead and say it: the Nike APC Maxim I is not new. True as that may be, the rules of our annual top 10 are simple: all shoes worn in 2015 count, regardless of when they were released, and this shoe was a big part of my year.

The 2013 APC-only Maxim came back into my rotation during what I’m dubbing my “Summer of Black,” when I joined every other New Yorker by not wearing any damn color other than that. While I listened to a load of Jacek Sienkiewicz, Kevin Drumm, Snaper, Donato Dozzy and Battilus back then, the real reason for me wearing a lot of black this year: sheer wardrobe laziness.

9. ETQ Low 1 Black

If you read my 2013 or 2014 picks, these will come as no shocker. Amsterdam’s ETQ is my  Common Projects: I prefer their fit, I prefer their ride, and I prefer their deep, rich colors. Although, if you read what’s written above, you’ll know it was all about black for me this year, and ETQ didn’t disappoint.

8. PUMA R698 “Soft Pack” Grey

My fall classic was the PUMA R698. Part of the “Soft Pack” release, the R698 is built upon PUMA’s highly wearabile hexagonal Trinomic soles, classed up in non-offensive colorways. They’re ultra-comfortable, plain and simple, but totally not for everyone. One prominent New York shop owner has already shared his dislike for the rough-out leather of this model with me, but when did I ever listen to those guys?

7. Converse Chuck Taylor All Star MA-1 Zip ‘Quilted’ Suede

Foot Locker Europe had the exclusive on the Converse “Quilted Suede Pack,” which is a bit of a shame. Both the wheat (shown above) and “surplus” green versions would have done fantastically well through select stores in North America. This release was an extension of Converse’s MA-1 bomber jacket-inspired collection, and really added to the overall look of the high-top.

6. adidas Yeezy Boost 350 Low Pirate Black

Here’s the truth: the Yeezy Boost 350 was the most anticipated and hyped shoe release of 2015. If you look at the data — everything from the social media chatter to volume of eBay sales, resale premiums and real life verbal conversation — nothing else came close.

But when friends of mine who don’t normally desire sneakers (not like Highsnobiety readers do) started inquiring about purchase leads, I realised what a phenomenon the 350 was. In the 14 years I’ve been covering the business, it’s tough to think of another example that reached a similar degree of commercial awareness. “Pirate Black” was the choice colorway for me, and adidas’ excellent Boost technology made them a very welcome addition to my rotation.

5. Converse Chuck II

Back in September, I wrote about why I believed the Converse Chuck II signaled major change for the Boston footwear maker. Converse took an (almost) hundred-year-old silhouette and made it super comfortable, thanks to some Nike Lunarlon footbeds. If I was basing this list solely on the merits of an updated original, the Converse Chuck II would be the top of my list. They’re so dependable and readily available, there’s almost no excuses if you haven’t tried them on yourself.


4. King Push x adidas Equipment Running Guidance

The Pusha T designed EQT “fishscale” was my 2015 sleeper: I wore them a few times in February, boxed them up, and then didn’t come back them until Spring. Of all the adidas EQT versions out there, Pusha-T’s collaboration feels like an ETQ on a diet and one whose girth is controlled by its monochrome creme color. In my opinion, the same cannot be said about the recent “Black” version…

3. New Balance 1300 JP

The New Balance 1300 JP is a sneaker of folklore. If memory serves me correctly, the 1300 JP is released only twice a decade and never outside of Japan. But, this year, they changed the rules making it available in limited quantities through select European and American doors (which is fair play, since they’re made in Maine).

The original Vibram soles of the 1300 JP sneakers wear stiff, but they are responsive nonetheless. I wore them in the city and ran miles in them while traveling; a rare shoe that works casually and functionally when necessary. If I had to choose on only one shoe to pack on a trip, it would be this one.

2. N.Hoolywood Converse Addict Japan Chuck Taylor Ox

To fully understand the finer points of the relationship between Converse Inc. and Converse Japan Co.,Ltd. is beyond the space I have here (in short, it is highly “complicated”). Still, that narrative would help explain why the fantastic Converse Addict line sadly remains lightyears away from seeing distribution outside of Japan, forcing the very excellent N.Hoolywood Chuck Taylor to remain “import-only.” It is truly the finest example of 1960s Chuck Taylor I’ve ever laid my eyes on, and the olive-esque khaki and Vibram sole made it an overall leader for me in 2015.

1. adidas Stan Smith Primeknit

There are two major camps out there where it comes to knitted uppers — an ongoing battle of innovation between one swoosh and three stripes. In the end, such competition has lead to some fantastic diversity in the product on offer.

In 2015, one knit sneaker held my attention more than any other. The adidas Stan Smith Primeknit — an updated take on the classic Stan Smith with a delicate yet durable knit upper — absolutely killed it. It was impossibly easy to wear and, quite frankly, made my day-to-day life a whole lot better. I clocked in months of non-stop wear in these, thanks to their insanely comfortable ride.

They may not be the most showy choice out there, but that’s not something a Stan Smith has ever tried to be. They’re so good, I even own them in doubles.

  • Photography: Thomas Welch
Managing Director N.A.

Jeff Carvalho is Managing Director for Highsnobiety N.A. in New York City. He holds a journalism degree from Northeastern University.

What To Read Next