As this year winds down, we’ve recapped its highlights to bring you the best of 2018 in fashion, sneakers, music, movies and more.
It’s been a big year for sneakers, and with 2018 drawing to a close, it’s time to assess the best kicks Nike had to offer.
Although the year might still have one or two big drops to come from the footwear brands we cover here at Highsnobiety, we’ve included a handful of Nike sneakers that we felt were in the running for the title of Sneaker of the Year in our recently announced Highsnobiety Crowns 2018, with the title ultimately going to the Nike React Element 87, which you can read about below.
Be sure to check out all of our Crowns 2018 coverage, and in the meantime, check out our selection of the best Nike drops of the year below, including collaborations with Supreme, OFF-WHITE, COMME des GARÇONS, ACRONYM, and Parra, re-releases and reimaginings of old models, and, of course, the truly future-forward React Element 87.
And, of course, feel free to tell us about your favorite Nike releases of 2018 in the comments at the bottom.
COMME des GARÇONS x Nike Air Max 180
Many collaborations don’t survive a single season, but COMME des GARÇONS and Nike have been going hard for two decades. Shown on the runway during the fashion brand’s SS18 show at Paris Fashion Week, the popping Air Max 180 eventually came out in a trio of colorways with pink as the foundation of each sneaker.
The kicks were initially exclusive to Dover Street Market, followed by a subsequent drop at select retail partners. Even for those sneakerheads who aren’t fans of bright kicks, this pack was a strong reason to put some pink in your rotation.
Nike Air Max 98 “Gundam”
After the return of the somewhat obscure Air Max 98, the partially neglected sibling of the Air Max 97, via a Supreme collaboration in 2016, new colorways started to land in early 2018, offering a welcome alternative to more eminent models such as the Air Max 1 or Air Max TN.
The “Gundam” colorway was a nod to the RX-78-2 suit from the popular Japanese Gundam sci-fi series and featured a blue and white upper with red details plus a red full-length Air unit — a colorway that melded nicely with the vintage ’90s silhouette.
ACRONYM x Nike Air Presto Mid
ACRONYM fans saw 2018’s utility-driven Air Presto Mid pack as a return to form for the Berlin-based brand’s collaborations with Nike after the previous Air VaporMax Moc 2 sat on shelves. Following up on the original 2016 release, the new pack of three colorways featured heavier branding in the form of ACRONYM hits on the forefoot piping, plus a custom camouflage print made from ACRONYM’s logo appearing in different proportions across the three shoes.
Nike M2K Tekno
This reboot of the classic Air Monarch was first teased at John Elliot’s New York Fashion Week FW18 show. Streamlining and updating the Monarch for 2018, the M2K Tekno featured an adjusted upper and sole unit, as well as subtle hits of color on the heel. All in all, though, the new version never strayed too far from the original dad shoe.
The release initially came only in women’s sizing, but the shoe was still a resounding hit with men, who opted to squeeze into smaller pairs before the men’s version finally dropped. The shoe became a common feature on the streets of major shopping districts, marking another commercial success for the Swoosh.
Nike ACG Dog Mountain
From Nike’s original ACG line, the Dog Mountain was co-designed by Aaron Cooper and the legendary Tinker Hatfield. The shoe’s vintage trail DNA is punctuated by a vivid color scheme that takes its cues from spring flowers in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge. It’s a color combination that also recalls the very first ACG products.
While today’s ACG range is more associated with the GORE-TEX-infused designs of consultant and co-designer Errolson Hugh of ACRONYM, the ACG — All Conditions Gear — collection originally debuted in the early ’80s, supplementing Nike’s running heritage with trail-oriented footwear and apparel designs.
Nike React Element 87
The React Element 87 is named after francium, which is the 87th and most reactive (i.e. explosive) element on the periodic table. The sleek shoe features Nike’s React cushioning foam, which is the base for a transparent upper and thoughtful details such as an asymmetrical tongue. The shoe’s overall aesthetic borrows from Nike’s Internationalist (the tongue, toe, and heel clip), with some features also borrowing from the more modern Zoom Fly SP.
The sneakerhead community went into a frenzy on social media when the first images of a collaborative UNDERCOVER React Element 87 appeared. The shoe’s sleek, futuristic design was universally appealing, and the translucent panels on the upper provided a fun way to get your socks street styled.
Parra x Nike Air Max 1
Eight years after their last sneaker collaboration, Nike and Amsterdam-based artist Piet Parra released the Parra x Nike Air Max 1. Featuring the artist’s multicolored, multi-pattern design, the Parra Air Max 1 stayed true to Parra’s fun style, mixing stripes, polka dots, and graphics to create a patchwork-like upper.
Parra was the creative mind behind some of the best Air Max 1 designs of the silhouette’s heyday in the mid-to-late ’00s, and his long-awaited Nike return didn’t disappoint.
Supreme x Nike Air Streak Spectrum
Supreme’s affinity for throwing curveballs prompts discussion every season. Yet despite that, the arrival of the co-branded Air Streak Spectrum still took many by surprise.
Kitted out with flaming details inspired by the kind of sticker decals you’d expect to find on a monster truck, the Supreme version presents a new take on a shoe first released in 2003 specifically for the Japanese running market and designed by industry veteran Steven Smith.
COMME des GARÇONS x Nike ACG Air Mowabb
If you’ve got an eye for detail, you’ll have noticed the clever logo flip that turns Nike’s triangular ACG logo into a nod to CDG. While the original Air Mowabb was known for its signature blue and orange colorway, the COMME des GARÇONS versions take a more reserved approach, opting for an angelic white color scheme or completely murdered-out black-on-black.
OFF-WHITE x Nike Air Presto “White”
Virgil Abloh’s white-on-white Air Presto kicked off the #ReadyMadeOffWhite challenge, which prompted tie-dye customs to pop up on Instagram in the weeks after the shoe dropped. Musician John Mayer and retailer UBIQ were among the two bigger names to get involved, alongside a wide spectrum of dip-dyed customs in every color you can imagine.
The release essentially created a renewed interest in custom sneakers, particularly dip-dyed ones. But even off the shelf and without customization, these pristine Prestos arrived just in time for summer flexing.
Nike Air Tailwind 79
While the Air Max 1 was the first shoe to feature a visible Air unit, the first actual Air bubble was contained in the 1979 Air Tailwind. But it’s not the history that places this shoe on our end-of-year list, it’s the details.
The shoes came in a special-edition box with a pair of accompanying socks, and they only cost $100. While other colorways of the Tailwind are set to drop in the near future, don’t expect Nike to retro this OG colorway any time soon.
Stüssy x Nike SB Blazer pack
Stüssy and Nike are certainly no strangers to collaborating with each other — their first partnership arrived back in 2000 when they dropped two versions of the Air Huarache LE. This early partnership opened the floodgates for other sneaker and streetwear collaborations.
A few years and additional collaborations later, this Blazer pack arrived in December 2018. A nod to Lance Mountain’s DIY punk rock-inspired high school approach, the Stüssy x Nike SB Blazer Mid came with a leopard stencil to customize the shoes. The Stüssy x Nike SB Blazer Low, meanwhile, was developed with team rider Kevin Terpening and came in a hairy black suede.
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- Main & Featured Image: Eva al Desnudo / Highsnobiety.com