As this year winds down, we’ve recapped its highlights to bring you the best of 2018 in fashion, sneakers, music, movies and more.

This was a year of trends in flux: chunky fashion sneakers, ’90s retro dad kicks, celebrity collabs, 4D soles, dip-dyed customs, and inkjet guns.

At times, it was difficult not to get caught up in the whirlwind of interesting releases, from tech-driven collaborations via adidas Futurecraft to Nike’s renewed focus on collaborations like those with A-COLD-WALL*, Fear of God, and of course Virgil Abloh. Of course I missed out on a few key releases, including the “1982” New Balance 990v4 and even the Dior B22, which was the best-looking chunky fashion shoe of the year by my estimation.

With a handful of good kicks dropping every weekend, I did my best to keep my rotation down to an essential selection of models. Below are the 10 shoes I wore most this year, but before you scroll down, be sure to rewind to some of my favorite articles from the Highsnobiety Sneakers channel this year, including our exclusive interview with Tom Sachs about his still unreleased Nike Mars Yard Overshoe, our data-driven series on sneaker resell prices in partnership with StockX, and our visit to the ASICS sneaker archive in Kobe, Japan.

Now, check out the 10 sneakers I owned and loved most in 2018.

The Broken Arm x Salomon XT-4

best sneakers 2018 chris danforth Adidas Converse Kiko Kostadinov
Highsnobiety / Julien Tell

Salomon had a big year in the sneaker space, despite making shoes that are way overqualified for street style. If you didn’t see how sick some mid-year general release colorways were, you should go back and check those out. This XT-4 with The Broken Arm landed in May and featured a gradient (shout out Sbarro) upper with a trail lacing closure that made these super-easy to slip on and off. Plus, I could rest assured that my feet would stay dry even in a torrential downpour.

Nike React Element 87

best sneakers 2018 chris danforth Adidas Converse Kiko Kostadinov
Highsnobiety / Julien Tell

These will surely be landing on many “Best of 2018” lists so I won’t say too much, but the React Element 87 was a definite technical and aesthetic triumph. A pair of volt Dri-FIT socks look pretty on point with this colorway specifically. I also picked up the “Green Mist” colorway from the UNDERCOVER collaboration, but I got way more mileage out of the “Sail/Light Bone” version after it dropped in the middle of summer — they’re simply a lot of fun to wear and it’s hard to pin that on one specific reason.

Vans Slip-On Anaheim Factory

best sneakers 2018 chris danforth Adidas Converse Kiko Kostadinov
Highsnobiety / Julien Tell

Vans updated some of its key silhouettes with new colors and materials for its Anaheim Factory series. I spent a good amount of time cycling around Berlin wearing these during spring. It’s not so evident from the photo, but the upper mixes soft suede with the classic canvas Vans is best known for, making it different from other Slip-Ons if you’re looking carefully enough. I love Vans because the brand’s success is thanks to a degree of serendipity, and the Slip-On looks just as good now as it did 35 years ago.

Kiko Kostadinov x ASICS GEL-Burz 2

best sneakers 2018 chris danforth Adidas Converse Kiko Kostadinov
Highsnobiety / Julien Tell

The Kiko Kostadinov x ASICS range is more of an actual collaboration than half of the brand x brand releases out there. Bulgarian designer Kostadinov actually goes out to the ASICS archive in Kobe and digs through boxes to inform the products he is putting out. My favorite sneaker from the collaboration was the “Limeade” GEL-Burz 1 that dropped in February, but the follow-up pack of GEL-Burz 2 colorways – featuring the “Slate Gray/Forest” version above – was also really strong. This collaboration is set to continue for a while, so we can definitely expect more drops in the future.

Mizuno Sky Medal OG

best sneakers 2018 chris danforth Adidas Converse Kiko Kostadinov
Highsnobiety / Julien Tell

This release was probably overlooked by some, but Mizuno’s Sky Medal was one of the best ’90s retro of the year, in my opinion. The iridescent Runbird logo on the upper is the only particularly eye-catching detail on an otherwise straightforward white runner. Simple, yet effective. Plus the cozy padding makes these extremely comfortable.

Prada America’s Cup

best sneakers 2018 chris danforth Adidas Converse Kiko Kostadinov
Highsnobiety / Julien Tell

Miuccia Prada actually designed this to be worn by the Prada’s Luna Rossa sailing team at the 2000 America’s Cup tournament. Since then, it has become an icon in its own right. I scooped these in the summer and felt a bit of buyer’s remorse afterward, but after wearing them a few times — including at our Highsnobiety Christmas party this year — that feeling has since vanished. Not every silhouette can look good when equipped with patent leather, but the Air Jordan 11 does, and certainly the America’s Cup as well.

COMME des GARÇONS Homme Plus x Nike ACG Mowabb

best sneakers 2018 chris danforth Adidas Converse Kiko Kostadinov
Highsnobiety / Julien Tell

I’ve always liked the OG Nike ACG Mowabb but never owned a pair. With COMME des GARÇONS and Nike continuing one of the best ongoing collaborations, which started back in 1999, I couldn’t resist grabbing this new interpretation of the throwback hiking shoe. The CDG/ACG logo-flip is so on point, and the black fuzzy suede is a nice way to loft up the silhouette even further. It was great to see other old ACG models come back this year like the Air Revaderchi and Dog Mountain, but I’m more than happy with my COMME Mowabbs.

Alltimers x adidas Skateboarding Gazelle Super

best sneakers 2018 chris danforth Adidas Converse Kiko Kostadinov
Highsnobiety / Julien Tell

I guess I’m a huge sucker for hairy suede. The Brand With the Three Stripes linked up with “the brand with the many martinis” to serve up this mustard Gazelle Super. Just like the Mowabbs above, I love the subtle logo-flips here, right down to the martini logo on the tongue. adidas put out a lot of new designs this year like the Deerupt, Prophere and POD System, but I will always keep coming back to classics like the Gazelle and Campus.

OFF-WHITE x Nike Blazer Mid

best sneakers 2018 chris danforth Adidas Converse Kiko Kostadinov
Highsnobiety / Julien Tell

This was my personal favorite OFF-WHITE x Nike (“The Ten” has nearly become “The Thirty” but that is neither here nor there) release of the year. I have to admit that the orange pair in this pack definitely grew on me, but I was super-happy to get my hands on the black version. I love how the exaggerated Swoosh dips into the midsole, plus the barcode detailing on the heel, yet the overall Blazer vibe isn’t completely altered like Virgil’s Presto and Jordan 1 designs.

Converse One Star

best sneakers 2018 chris danforth Adidas Converse Kiko Kostadinov
Highsnobiety / Julien Tell

As you can tell, these Converse One Stars were my 2018 beaters. I had these next to my front door for basically the whole year, and I wore them everywhere, from quick runs to the store to a music festival in the summer. I included a red hairy suede pair of One Stars in last year’s list, so don’t be surprised to see these in 2019’s roundup, too. The Converse Academy is back too and I need to get my hands on a pair.

Follow Chris Danforth on Instagram.

To stay updated on everything happening in the sneaker world, follow @Highsnobietysneakers on Instagram, check our sneaker release date calendar, and subscribe to our sneaker chatbot on Facebook to receive lightning quick updates to your inbox.

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

What To Read Next