With streetwear more ingrained in the mainstream than ever, sneaker bots and add-to-cart programs notoriously dominating drops, and an uber-competitive resale market, sneaker shopping in 2019 is not as straightforward as it once was.
While plenty of brick and mortar stores have prevailed, mobile sneaker shopping and shoe apps have increasingly become the place to go to obtain even the most coveted releases, like OFF-WHITE's “The Ten” Nike collection via Nike SNKRS, for example.
The sneaker apps you use can make all the difference when it comes to copping the kicks you want. So check out which of the most popular sneaker apps are the best in the field, and stay ahead of every drop you’re excited about in 2019.
Best sneaker retail app: Finish Line — Winner's Circle
Retail chain Finish Line is already an industry force in the athletic wear and sneaker market, and its mobile sneaker app is one of the best online shopping platforms out there. With a clean user interface, it doesn’t feel overwhelming to navigate despite a wide selection of goods. Raffles, personalized picks, and editorial content all boost Finish Line — Winner's Circle to the top of the retail sneaker app selection. It also lets you zoom in on hi-res product shots for crazy detail when it comes to textures and materials without ever needing to see a shoe in person.
Also recommended: Foot Locker
The popular retail chain stands out from the crowd for its top-of-the-line brand selection and Launch Reservations feature, which lets customers reserve popular drops for in-store pick up the next day. Its hard-to-navigate interface and confusing navigation, however, definitely leave something to be desired.
Also recommended: JD Sports
Great service and high supply are definitely some of popular UK retailer JD Sports' high points — not to mention a release calendar to keep you up to date on the latest drops. And the app’s simple interface is easy enough to navigate, though the glitchy development can sometimes make sneaker shopping even more difficult than it needs to be.
Best sneaker resale app: GOAT
Long praised for its trustworthiness and seamless, clean design, GOAT has become a leader among resale sneaker apps. The easy-to-navigate interface is far ahead of the competition’s complicated, cluttered designs, and GOAT's double-verification process helps weed out scammers. The GOAT app pays homage to sneaker culture and its roots through shoe origin stories on product pages, while Black Friday last year saw the platform integrate AR into its giveaways. GOAT’s huge selection also doesn’t hurt, with a massive release calendar for customers to track future drops.
Also recommended: StockX
StockX is a cult favorite with its ability to easily track the value of sneakers in real time. The green and red interface is reminiscent of stock tickers, playing fully on the brand name’s metaphor, and carries over into its app design in a fun, immersive way. Although the UI could definitely be simplified, its verified authentication process and high customer engagement make it a solid choice.
Also recommended: Stadium Goods
Its intuitive navigation and ease of use make it a favorite amongst fans. Stadium Goods also makes it easy to place and track orders, something that can be surprisingly hard to come by in a sneaker app. The app keeps it relatively simple design-wise and could use a little spice — but is otherwise a reliable resale marketplace.
Also recommended: Grailed
The Grailed app offers millions of listings in the palm of your hand, plus the ability to easily list your own items. While it's a marketplace that is less regulated than its competitor apps that we mentioned above, the app also offers on-the-go access to Grailed's editorial section, Dry Clean Only.
Best sneaker brand app: Nike SNKRS
With its frequent exclusive collabs, general releases, and rich “Discover” stories, it’s no surprise that Nike SNKRS (or SNEAKRS in Europe) dominates the shoe app market. In addition to its top-notch selection of Air Jordans, Air Force 1s, and OFF-WHITE collabs, the app boasts an engaging design and beautiful editorial content.
And in certain locations — usually big cities like Los Angeles or New York — users can also get a special SNKRS Pass to reserve shoes for pickup at a nearby store. The only real downside to the app is that a high volume of users means it can be harder to cop the shoes you want than on other platforms.
Also recommended: adidas
Although adidas has discontinued its own version of the SNKRS app, adidas Confirmed, it’s now integrated its sneaker selection into the overall adidas app. The inspirational, branded design elevates the sneaker shopping experience to feel like you’re in a curated adidas space. But the lack of any sort of release calendar or editorial content causes it to fall a little short of Nike this time around.
Best app for tracking sneaker release dates: Eastbay
Sometimes we miss out on the most important shoe releases not because of bots or bad luck, but because we didn’t even remember that a sneaker was dropping. Keeping track of release dates is key, and with no one dedicated sneaker app for that on the market, it can be hard to do. But popular footwear and athletic apparel supplier Eastbay has a surprisingly easy-to-navigate “Release” section that lets you track the sneakers coming out each month from brands such as PUMA, Nike, and adidas.
Also recommended: Unlaced
Known for its constant flow of sneaker news and list-view release calendar, Unlaced takes the lead when it comes to keeping up. The downside? It seems to only highlight upcoming Nike and Jordan-related releases, rather than giving a broader scope of the release landscape.
Also recommended: Footaction
This retail app does a good job of parsing out upcoming drops with its “Releases” tab, which shows both recently launched kicks and upcoming ones. While it’d be more useful to sort by month or time frame, Footaction still lets you track releases well enough that you (hopefully) won’t miss the drop you’ve been waiting for.
Most innovative sneaker app: Wanna Kicks
Ever wanted to try on shoes without leaving your apartment? Now, with the advent of augmented reality, you can. While Nike and GOAT have dabbled with AR tech in their sneaker apps, neither lets you virtually try on shoes via AR. Wanna Kicks, a new app from Belarusian startup Wannaby, beat the giants to it.
The AR integration in the Wanna Kicks sneaker app lets you try on adidas Ultraboosts, Nike Air Max 270s, and classic Vans Slip-Ons anywhere in the world. The cutting-edge AR tech virtually superimposes shoes on the user's feet via a phone's camera, bridging the barrier between the in-store try-on experience and online retail.
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