The year is not quite over yet, but we’ve gone ahead and rounded up our picks for the best sneakers of the year, so far.
Each weekend brings a laundry list of big releases, and we know all too well that keeping track of 2019’s best drops is no small task. We’ve had a promising start to the year so far, with retro Jordans, collaborations, and exciting new tech like the auto-lacing Nike Adapt BB and PUMA Fit Intelligence, the latter of which unfortunately doesn’t release until 2020, but stay post for next year’s list
At the end of the year, look out for our annual Highsnobiety Crowns awards, where we recap the best of the best, including the best sneakers that dropped over 12 months. In case you missed it, our pick for the best sneaker of 2018 was the Nike React Element 87.
From nostalgic retro releases to the latest sneaker technology and much more, these are the best sneakers of 2019.
Martine Rose x Nike Air Monarch
Regularly priced at $64.99, and often found on discount, many would balk at the thought of a Monarch that is priced at $250. The inflated cost of Martine Rose’s collaborative edition, plus the shoe’s strange design that featured bulbous protrusions on the upper, made this release very divisive. But you can’t deny Rose’s outside-the-box thinking, as the British designer chose to saddle a size 18 upper on a size 9 sole tooling, creating a sneaker that is visually unparalleled, to put it one way.
Kiko Kostadinov x ASICS GEL-Korika
Release Date: November 16, 2019
Kostadinov told Highsnobiety, “We worked on the [Korika] together, bringing a basketball shoe and reducing it to look good as a low runner, and just making it a bit more fun with the metallic and the shiny material.” The pack of four shoes included two colorways for men in black and grey, and two for women, arriving in candy-hued versions.
Kostadinov remains one of the most exciting young designers, and his partnership with ASICS promises to keep the Japanese brand an integral part of the sneaker conversation.
Salomon S/LAB XT-4 ADV
Release Date: January 2019
Buy: Slam Jam
Salomon’s trail offerings have been bubbling beneath the surface for some time now, but recent co-signs from the likes of Pusha T and even Rihanna have garnered the outerwear brand some major interest from the fashion and sneakerhead crowd. Salomon’s SS19 delivery featured a few tantalizing colorways, including a handful of performance models that featured as strong of colorblocking as we’ve seen from any brand. Take note of the “Mermaid” and “Poseidon” versions.
While the brand’s collaborations with The Broken Arm and Boris Bijan Saberei have been topics of conversation as well, it’s clear to see that Salomon doesn’t necessarily need a collaborative partner to secure the interest of sneakerheads, and the brand’s general releases can be just as strong. Keep your eyes trained on Salomon this year.
Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 “Cactus Jack”
Following on the success of his Air Force 1 and Air Jordan IV silhouettes, Travis Scott took on the iconic Air Jordan 1, re-imagining the shoe like never before. Electing a brown, white and black colorway, the Scott-edition Jordans feature the addition of a velcro stash pocket, plus the shoe’s most eye-catching detail – an inverted Swoosh. Like his previous Nike collaborations, Cactus Jack branding is found debossed on the heel of the shoe.
This take on the Jordan 1 dropped on the Nike SNKRS app during the Super Bowl LIII halftime show, however a wider release will be coming later this year. Scott has also teased two low-top Jordan 1s that could be releasing in the near future, so stay tuned for more news on those.
Overkill x adidas Consortium ZX 10,000C
Release Date: February 9, 2019
This February collaboration between adidas Consortium and Berlin-based sneaker outpost Overkill incorporated colorful details from various ZX models – specifically models from the four-digit ZX family, the 1000, 4000, 9000 and more – creating a “Best Of” ZX colorways.
The special pack consisted of one left and one right shoe, plus another single shoe in a completely different colorway. All three shoes together came in one oversized box, allowing collectors the possibility of getting their hands on a second box, thereby completing the other pair of shoes, or simply keeping the third shoe as a collectible for display.
New Balance 990V5
Release Date: May 4, 2019
Buy: New Balance
New Balance’s 990 series is surely one of most celebrated sneaker franchises of all time, and the V3 as well as the V4 variations are widely embraced as some of the most timeless, classic shoes on the market. With that, the debut of the new V5 was surely one of the biggest moments of the year.
Arriving with a global campaign that cleverly touted the shoe as being worn by “supermodels in London and dads in Ohio,” the perennially cool grey runner is noticeably changed from previous iterations, but familiar enough that many New Balance fans instantly injected this shoe into their rotation.
Cactus Plant Flea Market x Nike VaporMax
Release Date: May 14, 2019
Under-the-radar streetwear brand Cactus Plant Flea Market is the brainchild of Cynthia Lu, who became one of the first-ever female non-athletes to receive her own Nike collaboration when she re-worked the Nike VaporMax sneaker. The irresistibly charming collaboration has a hand-made feel thanks to a re-jigged Nike Swoosh made from garden wiring, plus an offbeat smiley face graphic on the heel. This refreshing and original flip on the VaporMax was widely celebrated, and tough to obtain due to limited availability through Dover Street Market and NikeLab locations.
sacai x Nike LDWaffle
Release Date: May 16 in EU, May 30 in US
No, you’re not seeing double. sacai’s double-edged mashup of two late-’70s Nike silhouettes, the LDV and Waffle Racer, features twice-stacked soles, dual tongues, twin laces, and overlapping Swooshes. The colorways also derive from that same era of Nike design, and you might even recognize one colorway’s green hue as being similar to the signature pantone of Oregon University.
Debuted on the Parisian runway in June 2018, the LDWaffle is a clever hybrid of new and old, and was shown with an accompanying Blazer, both of which eventually dropped in May 2019, after some sneakerheads simply couldn’t take the anticipation any longer.
AWAKE x ASICS GEL-Kayano 5 360
Release Date: June 20, 2019
The first sneaker collaboration from Angelo Baque’s new clothing brand AWAKE landed with none other than ASICS. Baque was tasked with re-imagining the GEL-Kayano 5 360, a hybrid silhouette featuring a Kayano 5 upper saddled on a 360 sole unit. The refreshing collaboration shows how ASICS is putting its weight behind emerging brands, and Baque showed he was capable of stepping up to the plate, serving up two strong colorways inspired by New York and Paris. Baque told Highsnobiety, “All my projects are one degree of Queens or two degrees of New York City. I love being from New York, I love still living in the city.”
Palace Skateboards x Salomon Speedcross 4
Release Date: Friday, September 6
Perhaps no singular release can better represent the current fashion and sneaker zeitgeist than the Palace Skateboards x Salomon Speedcross 4, and the right context is surely needed to understand why a Palace, a brand that bills itself as a London-based skateboard brand, would collaborate with a mountaineering brand like Salomon. The disruptive release catered to the current apetite for technical footwear, while Palace lent its street-level “cool” to the design.
Louis Vuitton Trainer
Inspired by vintage basketball sneakers, Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton Trainer mixes sportswear and luxury, featuring timeless color blocking and classic details like a perforated toe box. Abloh’s first sneaker for the French fashion house, the LV 408 Trainer also boasts a hand-written Louis Vuitton signature on the side. According to Abloh, the made-in-Italy LV 408 Trainer takes six hours for each shoe to be stitched. In total, 106 pieces make up the sneaker, while 20 pieces are featured on the sole alone.
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