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
Many collaborations can’t survive a single season, but COMME des GARÇONS and Nike have been going hard for literally decades, and it’s a worth taking note any time the two brands come together. Shown on the runway during the SS18 shows at Paris Fashion Week, the popping Air Max 180 eventually released in a trio of colorways with pink used as the foundation of each sneaker. The kicks were released exclusively at Dover Street Market, followed by a subsequent drop at select retail partners. Even for sneakerheads that aren’t specifically fans of pink, this pack was a strong reason to reconsider.
Kendrick Lamar x Nike Cortez Kenny 1
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.
Nike Air Max 98 “Gundam”
After the return of the somewhat obscure Air Max 98 (the older, partially neglected brother of the Air Max 97) via a Supreme collaboration in 2016, new colorways started to land in early 2018. The “Gundam” colorawy is a nod to the RX-78-2 suit from the popular Gundam sci-fi series, featuring 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 and 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, which appeared in different proportions across the three shoes.
Nike M2K Tekno
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.
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, the ACG collection originally debuted in the early ’80s, supplementing Nike’s running heritage with outdoor-oriented footwear and apparel designs.
Nike React Element 87
Nike’s React Element 87 sneaker is named after the periodic element Francium, which is the 87th (and most explosive) element on the table. The sleek shoe features Nike’s React cushioning foam, saddled with a lightweight, transparent upper, and thoughtful details like an asymmetrical tongue. The shoe’s overall aesthetic borrows from Nike’s Internationalist (the tongue, toe, and heel clip) and select features from the more modern Zoom Fly SP.
Sneakerheads went into a frenzy when leaked images of a collaborative UNDERCOVER React Element 87 surfaced, however general release versions hit shelves first, as a strong consolation prize. The initial “Sail” and “Anthracite Black” colorways were released in June and July, both of which sold out almost immediately.
Parra x Nike Air Max 1
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.”
Supreme x Nike Air Streak Spectrum
Supreme’s affinity for throwing curveballs is a cause for discussion each and every season. While the brand’s Nike partnership is certainly expected to be reprised year after year, the arrival of a co-branded Streak Spectrum still took many by surprise. Kitted out with flaming details inspired by the kind of sticker decals you might expect to find on a monster truck, the Supreme version presents a new take on the shoe, which first released in 2003 specifically for the Japanese running market, and was designed by industry veteran Steven Smith.
COMME des GARÇONS x Nike ACG Air Mowabb
The longstanding collaboration between COMME des GARÇONS and Nike never fails to disappoint. If you’ve got an eye for details, you will have noticed the clever logo flip that turns Nike’s triangular ACG logo into a nod toward CDG instead. While the original Mowabb was known for its signature blue and orange colorway, the COMME versions take a more reserved approach, opting for an angelic white color scheme, and completely murdered-out black-on-black.
OFF-WHITE x Nike Air Presto “White”
Virgil’s white-on-white Presto release kicked off the #ReadyMadeOffWhite challenge, which caused tie-dye customs to seem omnipresent on Instagram for subsequent weeks after the drop. 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. Even off the shelf and without customization, these pristine Prestos arrived just in time for summer flexing.
Skepta x Nike Air Max Deluxe
Following up on his Morroccan market-themed Air Max 97s and his asymmetrical blue-and-red Air Max 97/BW hybrids, Skepta took on the Air Max Deluxe (an acquired taste, even for die-hard Air Max fans) for possibly the strongest of his three official Nike collaborations. Themes of vintage VHS tapes manifested via a static print on the upper with “NEVER SLEEP ON TOUR” detailing on the medial side, and “12:00PM JUN 09 2014” detailing on the lateral side.
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- Main & Featured Image: Eva al Desnudo / Highsnobiety.com