adidas Pure Boost Primeknit
adidas’ Boost outsole represents the very cutting edge of lightweight athletic sneaker technology, so its move into the everyday market was kind of a big deal. Calling on their top designers in running, streetwear and high fashion, adidas created a hybrid that ticked so many boxes it could’ve gotten a job at the DMV. Then they went and released a primeknit version, which was pretty much the best thing to happen to our feet all long, hot summer.
adidas Consortium Stan Smith
Project Resurrect Stan Smith was well and truly on this year, and one of the best efforts to breathe new life into the ageing silhouette came from the brand’s own Consortium lab. While ostensibly the same sneaker as the timeless classic, the four different leather options (cracked, ostrich, reptile and, err, “phoenix”) created a whole new premium dimension to what was once a wardrobe staple for so many, encapsulating its newfound upmarket popularity.
Air Jordan Future
The Jordan Future represents the biggest stylistic step forward for Jordan Brand in perhaps its entire history. Moving cleanly away from all traditional preconceptions of basketball footwear, its woven upper, suede lining, brass tipped laces and carbon footplate all hinted at a much more luxurious direction for the Jumpman, and the glow-in-the-dark launch model was the perfect way to say "the next generation has landed".
Nike Free Orbit II SP
The future called; they want their sneakers back. Although they’re gonna have a hard time getting hold of them, because the Nike Free Orbit II SP sold like hot (space) cakes when it dropped at the start of the summer. Their prickly, geometric upper was one of the most interesting new silhouettes all year, while that Free 5.0 sole made them about as weightless as a walk on the moon.
11 by Boris Bidjan Saberi x 24 Kilates x Reebok Insta Pump Fury
The Insta Pump Fury is already an opinion-dividing sneaker at Highsnob Towers, and the 33 new iterations Reebok released this year to mark its 20th anniversary didn’t exactly help that. However, this tasteful effort by Boris Bidjan Saberi and 24 Kilates is one we could all agree was a real highlight, neatly summing up the shoe’s newfound popularity with the high fashion crowd.
Riccardo Tisci x Nike Air Force 1
As the owner of over 400 pairs in his lifetime, there are few people on Earth better placed to rework the iconic Air Force 1 than Riccardo Tisci. Without doubt the single biggest sneaker collaboration of the year, choosing one highlight from the twelve iterations across three colorways wasn’t easy. However, we feel the extension of those coloured stripes from Givenchy’s SS14 runway collection across the original AF1 white mid silhouette effectively sums up everything this awesome partnership was about.
Y-3 Qasa 'All Black'
Being a ninja has always been cool, but 2014 will officially be remembered as the year it became sneaker cool. While the Y-3 Qasa silhouette has been around for a minute now, this summer its popularity exploded like a stun grenade thanks to the fearsomely on-trend “All Black” colourway, which sold out in a matter of minutes and unleashed a deadly new look on street style around the world.
Pigalle x Nike Air Raid
In triple white for the purists and shocking grape for the extroverts, the Pigalle Air Raid was not only a killer way to round off the Parisian label’s Nike collab, but also one of the rarest sneakers of the year. Available exclusively via raffle during New York Fashion Week, with only 100 pairs ever made, scoring a pair was like winning the sneaker lottery. Only instead, you had to pay.
Nike Air Yeezy II 'Red October'
Fearing the streets would run as red as the shoes if they attempted a physical release, Nike dropped the Air Yeezy 2 via its website like a stealth bomber back in February, sitting back to watch the pandemonium that ensued. Those lucky enough to bag a pair had, without doubt, the Holy Grail of sneakerdom in their hands – which many promptly sold for sums so ludicrous they would make even Yeezus blush.
adidas x Rick Owens Tech Runner II
Whether the world simply needed a whole year to get to grips with the original Tech Runner, or the replacement of that awkward 2-part sole seen in the first edition finally made it a halfway wearable shoe, 2014 saw Rick Owens’ flagship sneaker take off in a big way. What’s more, people outside the traditional “everything-in-black-and-concrete” stereotype picked up on them as well. Even Robert Downey Jr has a pair. Make of that what you will...
Ronnie Fieg x Filling Pieces RF-Mid
Filling Pieces is the name on everyone’s lips (and feet) this year, so it made perfect sense for them to team up with a force similarly used to the limelight. While the collab produced six sneakers in total, for us, the tan leather model captured FP’s ‘luxury-for-the-everyman’ spirit in remarkably mature fashion, and was a real breath of fresh air amid the endless sea of knitted uppers.
adidas Originals Tubular
With the popularity of high-fashion sneakers skyrocketing right now, expect to see a number of design elements that were first road tested in the luxury market trickling down into the mainstream. The Tubular was the first of what will no doubt be many high-low hybrids in 2015 and beyond, and its unequivocal success across the globe bodes well for the evolving state of the industry right now. Here’s to breaking down those boundaries.
One of the most unlikely success stories of the year, Jon Buscemi’s 100mm is, essentially, a super luxe handbag for your feet. Premium leathers, glistening gold hardware, unnecessary straps and tags – the only thing more outrageous than their looks is their price tag. Which, incidentally, is what has made them such a massive hip hop style icon this year.
Converse Chuck Taylor 1970s Woven Textile Hi ‘Twilight’
Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that a 100-year-old brand like Converse can go and produce a shoe more beautiful than 99% of the ridiculous collabs or hype-fuelled colorways without any outside help whatsoever. The ‘Twilight’ is like the artisanal shoe your wise grandparents might make, having soaked up all the knowledge and experience of an entire lifetime, resulting in something that is utterly timeless in every respect.
END. x Saucony Shadow 5000 ‘Burger’
So often novelty sneaker concepts can seem like one bad joke (with you as the punchline), but END.’s hookup with Saucony back in May managed the rare feat of being both conceptually clever, and remarkably well produced. If you needed any proof that Saucony are clawing their way up the internal sneakerhead rankings, the $500+ resale price on these babies should show you how fast their star is rising.
Hender Scheme Jordan IV
At $1000 a pair, Hender Schemes aren’t so much footwear as works of art, and the Jordan IV is their Mona Lisa. In centuries to come, when future generations are looking back at our civilisation and trying to decipher the mysteries of sneaker culture, these Japanese-made, hand-stitched, premium leather beauties will be sat in a diamond glass case in the museum of awesome, guarded by Rottweilers and laser beams.
Air Jordan Retro 6 Black Infrared
With the number of retro Jordan re-releases we’ve seen this year, you’d think living in the present was going out of fashion. Still, credit where credit’s due, the new Black/Infrared Air Jordan 6 is about as classy an update as they come. What wasn’t quite as classy, however, was dropping them on Black Friday and letting people beat the crap out of one another trying to get hold of a pair.
CNCPTS x New Balance 997 ‘Rose’
The sneaker so strong, they opened a whole store with it. When CNCPTS launched their landmark new NYC space on the premise that it would focus purely on selling one specific sneaker model at a time, this was their first swing of the bat. And, to be fair to them, it’s a clean, all-American home run.
Kobe 9 Elite Low HTM
If you were to look at the sneaker market like an investment opportunity (and, sadly, many do), there was almost no safer money this year than the Kobe 9 Elite Low HTM. A feat of footwear engineering so strong it was launched via a bespoke sculpture installation at Milan Design Week, these unicorn-rare sneakers soon found themselves fetching upwards of $2500 on the resell market. Some might argue they’re worth every cent.
Common Projects Basketball
Common Projects are like the Lexus of the sneaker world. Everyone can see you spent money on them, but they don’t need to go around shouting about it. Branching out from their unfeasibly popular Achilles silhouette, CP’s Basketball Mid was everything we’ve come to love about the brand – exceedingly well made, and about as well-moneyed normcore as Larry David.
Odd Future x Vans Syndicate Old Skool Pro ‘S’
Longtime proponents of outrageously garish fashion via their affiliated Golf Wang label, it was no surprise to find Odd Future bringing the same love of conflicting colour to their collab with Vans. If there’s anyone out there who can get away with pairing a bubble-gum pink cupsole with an emerald suede upper, it’s Tyler & Co. Too bad for the rest of us.
Nike Air Huarache ‘Triple Black’
For so long the ugly child of the Nike Air family, 2014 saw the Huarache’s fortunes turn around massively as it suddenly became the belle of the ball. And, when the predictably on-trend Triple Black colourway dropped just in time for the new school season, everyone wanted to invite it to dance. Only time will tell if they still feel that way once the clock strikes midnight...
adidas ZX Flux
Since its release in 2012, Nike’s Roshe Run has been the affordable everyman’s sneaker to which adidas had no answer. Finally, in summer this year, they responded with the ZX Flux, and the world’s verdict was a hearty thumbs up. While they’ve yet to release any truly scene-igniting, hype-inducing colorways at present, the versatility offered by that one-piece upper means the stage is set for a real future classic.
Nike SB x Air Jordan 1 by Lance Mountain
The coming together of the Jordan and Nike SB brands was a pretty big deal this year, especially for those old enough to have been skating in original Jordan 1s back in the day. While the first attempt left a few scratching their heads, by the time Lance Mountain got involved things were back on track. With a black topcoat that scuffed away to reveal the sneakers’ true colorway underneath, these were a real gift to the OG skate heads.
Nike Dunk High Premium SB ‘Diamond’
48 hours. That’s how long people were camping out for a pair of Diamond Supply Co.’s Nike SB Dunks this spring. While some might put that level of dedication down to mental deficiency (or the prospect of easy financial gain), there’s no denying the peppermint upper, croc-effect accents and silver swoosh were seriously good-looking – unlike anyone who just spend two days sleeping on the sidewalk.
Ronnie Fieg x asics Gel Lyte V ‘Mint Leaf’
Granted, it didn’t take a whole lot of effort on Ronnie’s part to follow up 2011’s Gel Lyte III Mint in the exact same shade, but the V’s popularity this year has been unavoidable, and of all the colorways to be released these past 12 months this (and it’s sister, the ‘Cove’) were by far the most memorable. It sold out in a predictably short amount of time, so we guess if it ain’t broke...
Nike Air Trainer 1 Mid ‘Silver Speed’
Everyone needs to own at least one completely mental, outrageously over the top pair of sneakers in their lifetime, and if we had to choose any from the past year, it would be the Air Trainer 1 Mids from Nike’s Super Bowl XLVIII collection. Kicking off the iridescent trend we saw at several points throughout year, you might need to wear sunglasses every time you put them on, but god damn... they’re just so fabulous it hurts.
Nike Free Mercurial Superfly HTM
When the boot that owned the FIFA World Cup made the transition to sneakertown, a lot of people got very excited indeed. Designed by what can reasonably be termed the Holy Trinity of sneaker talent – Nike CEO Mark Parker, Air Jordan godfather Tinker Hatfield and Fragment Design’s Hiroshi Fujiwara – this heavily anointed sneaker combined Free and Flyknit technology in a silhouette that, while a little awkward on the shelf, made a hell of a lot of sense on the feet.
Supreme x Nike Foamposite
Every so often a sneaker comes along that causes people to lose all sense of their humanity. This summer, that was the Supreme Foamposite. With the NYPD having to step in and shut down the launch just minutes before release over fears of a riot, it seems the combination of two such formidable forces in one Versace-esque, baroque-inspired piece of footwear was like Kryptonite for people’s sanity. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
24 Kilates x Diadora N9000 Sol
We’re big fans of the underdog, so when Diadora started throwing serious punches again this year, we were right in their corner. The ‘Sol’ was the first of a two-pack punch delivered alongside Barcelona sneaker emporium 24 Kilates, and after one look at those beautifully balanced pastel shades it felt like those closing moments of Rocky all over again.
–The 2014 Results have now been published. You can find them all here—
The HS Crowns are a new annual awards series celebrating the very best in streetwear and street culture. Each shortlist has been carefully compiled by the Highsnobiety editorial team, with the final results left up to you, the reader.
How do you celebrate every single amazing sneaker released across an entire year? Simple answer: you don’t. The Best Sneaker award is a careful selection of the shoes we thought were the most popular, the most successful, and the most beautiful examples of footwear design released this year. We’ve taken special care to cover as many bases as possible, but there are always going to be more great sneakers than there is space to do them justice. Feel free to shout out your personal favorites in the comments box below.
Vote for your favorite below for your chance to win a brand new iPhone 6 or iPad Air 2. Then head to our main awards page to cast your vote in the other categories.