We’re still quite early into the year, but it’s never too soon to highlight our picks for the best Nike shoes of the year, so far.
Each weekend brings a laundry list of big releases, and we know all too well that keeping track of 2019’s best drops is no small task. At the end of the year, look out for our annual Highsnobiety Crowns awards, where we recap the best of the best, including the best sneakers that dropped over 12 months. In case you missed it, our pick for the best sneaker of 2018 was the Nike React Element 87.
From nostalgic retro releases to the latest sneaker technology and much more, these are the best Nike shoes of 2019.
Martine Rose x Nike Air Monarch
Regularly priced at $64.99, and often found on discount, many would balk at the thought of a Monarch that is priced at $250. The inflated cost of Martine Rose’s collaborative edition, plus the shoe’s strange design that featured bulbous protrusions on the upper, made this release very divisive. But you can’t deny Rose’s outside-the-box thinking, as the British designer chose to saddle a size 18 upper on a size 9 sole tooling, creating a sneaker that is visually unparalleled, to put it one way.
Slam Jam x Nike Blazer “Class ’77”
Release Date: February 22, 2019
One of the most foundational silhouettes in Nike’s catalog, the Blazer was treated to a vintage re-issue this year alongside Italian retailer and agency Slam Jam, who brought the shoe back to its classic 1977 form, plus one major twist. On the medial side of the shoe, Nike’s iconic Swoosh is inverted, while the sneaker retains its classic Blazer design from a lateral point of view. On the heel, oh-so-slightly cracked text reads “Class” and “1977”, building on the shoe’s authentic vintage feel.
While they didn’t cement a spot on our list, a very special mention goes to the pack of three vintage Blazer colorways – “Habanero Red,” “Pacific Blue,” and “Lucid Green,” – which dropped in January.
Nike Adapt BB
Nike’s legacy of self-lacing shoes started with Marty McFly’s Nike MAGs from 1989’s Back to the Future II. In 2017, the technology became a reality with the concept-proving HyperAdapt sneaker. Now in 2019, Nike debuted the Adapt BB, a self-lacing basketball shoe that costs $350. When slipping the shoe on for the first time, a motor and gear train sense adjust the fit accordingly by sensing tension, while the shoe can also be loosened or tightened via two midsole buttons, or a mobile app. To learn more, check out out our detailed review of the Adapt BB sneaker.
Nike Air Max 1 “Grass”
Release Date: TBD
A 1987 running shoe re-made for the fairway, this Nike Golf Air Max 1 design features a synthetic grass upper, and is unlike any Air Max 1 design we’ve ever seen. This astroturf Air Max features tonal green laces, white midsole, and treaded gum outsole, making it better equipped for the links than your average Air Max 1. A result of cross-department collaboration between Nike’s Golf and Sportswear departments, the result is certainly a standout release for 2019.
Girls Don’t Cry x Nike SB Dunk Low
Release Date: February 9, 2019
2019’s Girls Don’t Cry x Nike SB Dunk Low dropped exclusively ahead of Valentine’s Day 2019, in Osaka, Japan, hometown of Girls Don’t Cry founder Verdy. The tonal red low-top Dunk features thoughtful detailing that sets it apart from other Dunk releases, like a butterfly logo stitched on the tongue tag, heart-shaped perforations above the midsole, and Girls Don’t Cry script logo on the heel. Initially teased in mid-2018, then treated to a limited and local release in Osaka, the anticipation for this release has had ample time to build up, at a time when SB Dunks could be poised for somewhat of a comeback.
Nike Air Max 180 “Berlin”
Release Date: March 26, 2019
For Air Max Day 2019, Nike unveiled its Air Max 180 “Berlin,” an EU-exclusive design that pays homage to the nightlife and club scene in Germany’s capital of Berlin. The story was told through “FREEDOM” and “UNITY” printed on the outsoles, and explained by Berlin-based DJ Honey Dijon who noted “I grew up in a time and place in club culture where artists and fashion designers and musicians all came together to build a community of like-minded spirits. It’s very important to continue that tradition.”
The shoe came with a collectible Nike box, when paired with thoughtful details and colorblocking, makes this a stand out Nike release from 2019, so far.
Nike Air Max 97 SH Kaleidoscope
Release Date: April 13, 2019
In 2018, the Nike: On Air workshops were held in New York City, London, Paris, Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo, where aspiring designers created sneaker designs inspired by their communities. Cash Ru’s Air Max 97 took inspiration from the cloud-filled skies of Shanghai, and features a translucent blue upper with while sole unit and details. The undulating layered panels of the 97 lend thsemselves nicely to the blue ripstop material, while additional highlights include the shoe’s multiple heel tabs, and contrasting red Swoosh.
Cactus Plant Flea Market x Nike VaporMax
Release Date: May 14, 2019
Under-the-radar streetwear brand Cactus Plant Flea Market is the brainchild of Cynthia Lu, who became one of the first-ever female non-athletes to receive her own Nike collaboration when she re-worked the Nike VaporMax sneaker. The irresistibly charming collaboration has a hand-made feel thanks to a re-jigged Nike Swoosh made from garden wiring, plus an offbeat smiley face graphic on the heel. This refreshing and original flip on the VaporMax was widely celebrated, and tough to obtain due to limited availability through Dover Street Market and NikeLab locations.
sacai x Nike LDWaffle
Release Date: May 16 in EU, May 30 in US
No, you’re not seeing double. sacai’s double-edged mashup of two late-’70s Nike silhouettes, the LDV and Waffle Racer, features twice-stacked soles, dual tongues, twin laces, and overlapping Swooshes. The colorways also derive from that same era of Nike design, and you might even recognize one colorway’s green hue as being similar to the signature pantone of Oregon University.
Debuted on the Parisian runway in June 2018, the LDWaffle is a clever hybrid of new and old, and was shown with an accompanying Blazer, both of which eventually dropped in May 2019, after some sneakerheads simply couldn’t take the anticipation any longer.
Off-White™ x Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 5
In 2017, Virgil Abloh and Off-White™ announced “The Ten” collaboration with Nike, which simultaneously disrupted and re-energized the landscape of sneaker collaborations. Now that chapter of the Off-White™ x Nike collaboration has come to a close, however Abloh has shifted to working on Nike’s catalog of track and field runners. The first drop to come from this new collaboration was the Zoom Terra Kiger 5, done up in two colorways, both with exaggerated tread on the outsole and chunky rope laces.
Release Date: June 26, 2019
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