Cop It, Then Rock It
Highsnobiety / Asia Typek

We’ve still got a good chunk of the year to go, but it’s never too early to take a closer look at the best Nike sneakers of 2018 so far, so you can keep updated 365 days of the year.

Although this year still has a number of big drops in store from all of the footwear brands we cover here on Highsnobiety, we’ve chosen a number of Nike sneakers that could scoop the title of “The Best Sneaker of 2018” in our end-of-year Highsnobiety Crowns, which will be rolled out later in December.

We’ll keep this list updated throughout the year with the best Nike sneakers of 2018, but for now, below is a selection of the best drops of the year (so far), including highlights from the Air Max range, hip-hop collaborations, and more.

COMME des GARÇONS x Nike Air Max 180

Stadium Goods

Most collaborations can’t survive a single season, but COMME des GARÇONS and Nike’s relationship has been going hard for two decades, so it’s worth taking note any time the two brands come together. Shown on the runway during the SS18 shows at Paris Fashion Week, the vivid Air Max 180 eventually dropped in a trio of pink-infused colorways. The sneakers were released at Dover Street Market, as well as select retail partners.

Shop: SSENSE, Farfetch, StockX, Stadium Goods

Kendrick Lamar x Nike Cortez Kenny 1

Asia Typek /

Following a handful of somewhat lackluster Reebok collaborations, Kendrick “Kung Fu Kenny” Lamar was enlisted by Nike to rework a Compton classic, the Nike Cortez. Limited to a US release as part of the Cortez’s 45th anniversary, the special edition low-tops featured a very visible nod to Lamar’s 2017 studio album DAMN., writ large in bubble font across the lateral. The partnership between Lamar and Nike has since produced two other colorways, the red/white/black Kenny II and the black/white/red Kenny III.

Shop: Stadium Goods, StockX, GOAT

Nike Air Max 98 “Gundam”

Eva al Desnudo /

After the return of the somewhat mysterious Air Max 98 via a Supreme collaboration in 2016, new colorways started to land in early 2018. The “Gundam” colorway nods to the RX-78-2 mecha suit from the popular Gundam anime series, featuring a blue and white upper with red details, including a red full-length air unit — a colorway perfectly suited to this vintage ’90s silhouette.

Shop: Stadium Goods, StockX, GOAT

ACRONYM x Nike Air VaporMax Moc 2

The Air VaporMax Moc 2 was the fourth sneaker collaboration to come from ACRONYM and Nike, arriving in three colorways. ACRONYM founder and chief designer Errolson Hugh described the resulting sneaker by saying, “There is absolutely nothing retro about it.” Accompanied by highly stylized promo materials, including a Western-themed showdown video with John Mayer, the release is surely one of the year’s most memorable, with creative direction that raised the bar for high-profile sneaker drops in future.

Shop: Stadium Goods, StockX, GOAT

Nike M2K Tekno

Eva al Desnudo /

This reboot of the classic Nike Air Monarch was first teased during John Elliot’s New York Fashion Week FW18 show. Streamlining and updating the Monarch for 2018, the M2K Tekno features an adjusted upper and sole unit, as well as subtle hits of color on the heel. All in all, the DNA of the Monarch remains intact, with the new version never straying too far from the original dad shoe.

Shop: Stadium Goods, StockX, GOAT

Nike ACG Dog Mountain

Eva al Desnudo / / Nike

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, the ACG collection originally debuted in the early ’80s, supplementing Nike’s running heritage with outdoor-oriented footwear and apparel designs.

Shop: StockX, GOAT

Nike React Element 87

Press / Nike

Nike’s React Element 87 is named after the chemical element Francium, which is the 87th (and most explosive) element on the periodic table. The sleek shoe features Nike’s React cushioning foam, saddled with a lightweight, transparent upper and thoughtful details such as the asymmetrical tongue. The shoe borrows from the Nike Internationalist — the tongue, toe, and heel clip — and select features from the more modern Zoom Fly SP.

Sneakerheads went into a frenzy when images of a collaborative UNDERCOVER React Element 87 surfaced, but the general release versions hit shelves first. The initial “Sail” and “Anthracite Black” colorways came out in June and July, selling out almost immediately.

Parra x Nike Air Max 1

Highsnobiety / Julien Tell

Eight years after their last sneaker collaboration, Nike and Amsterdam-based artist Piet Parra released a new Parra x Nike Air Max 1. Featuring the artist’s multicolored, multi-pattern design, the Parra x Nike Air Max 1 stayed true to Parra’s fun style, opting for a mix of stripes, polka dots, and graphics to create a patchwork-like upper. Parra was the creative mind behind some of the most iconic Air Max 1 designs during the silhouette’s heyday in the mid-to-late ’00s, and his long-awaited Nike return did not disappoint.

Speaking to Highsnobiety, Parra explained the color story behind his latest release: “The colors are close to my usual palette and come from the initial artwork I made for this. I started with the artwork and moved on from there. At some point, I thought, “What if you throw a white Air Max through this drawing? What would stick to it, color- and pattern-wise?” So it turned out to be an abstraction of an abstract landscape.”

Shop: Stadium GoodsStockX, GOAT

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  • Main & Featured Image: Eva al Desnudo /

Vancouver-born, Berlin-based writer with a steady hand on the keyboard.

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