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Highsnobiety / Bryan Luna

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

Every successive year feels like the new “biggest year” for sneakers. From collaborations and reissues to new silhouettes, 2018 was filled to the brim with memorable moments until the very last second. Perhaps unexpectedly, rap beefs, venture capital, and endorsements also played a sizable role in keeping sneakers at the forefront of the conversation.

Last year’s recap included the release of Virgil Abloh and Nike’s “The Ten,” the dissolution of Rick Owens’ longstanding partnership with adidas Originals, the launch of LaVar Ball’s Big Baller Brand, and more. Hit this link if you want to relive last year’s biggest moments before diving into our 2018 list.

Now, without further ado, let’s take a look back at the 12 biggest sneaker moments of 2018.

Kanye West gives us biggest YEEZY drop ever

the 14 biggest sneaker moments of 2018 A$AP Rocky Adidas Nike
Highsnobiety / Rene Marban

In his now-infamous interview with Ryan Seacrest in February 2015, Kanye said, “Everybody who wants to get YEEZYs will get YEEZYs.” It took three and a half years for him to deliver. In September 2018, the YEEZY Boost 350 V2 “Triple White” came out in unprecedented volumes — reportedly more than 1 million pairs — and what was once nearly impossible to cop became more accessible than ever. Even if YEEZY resellers suffered, we can’t fault West for delivering on his promise.

Pusha-T cancels Drake’s adidas “Adidon” collab

the 14 biggest sneaker moments of 2018 A$AP Rocky Adidas Nike
Highsnobiety / Thomas Welch

For months, rumors swirled that Drake would be leaving Jordan Brand for an endorsement deal with adidas. But an old-fashioned rap beef with Pusha-T might have ended things before they even got started. On “The Story of Adidon,” Pusha alleged that Drake was hiding a son named Adonis, whom his rumored adidas collection was to be named after. The internet was set ablaze, and even though the collaboration was never confirmed, it seems to have been canceled completely.

Resellers become even bigger business

the 14 biggest sneaker moments of 2018 A$AP Rocky Adidas Nike
Highsnobiety / Julien Tell

Whether you love it, hate it, or do it yourself, you can’t deny sneaker reselling is big business, recently topping $1 billion globally. Now, investors have seen its potential and injected in piles of cash. In September, StockX secured $44 million in funding to cement its status as a resale leader. Around the same time, GOAT and Flight Club merged, with the aim of creating the largest marketplace for reselling authentic sneakers. And in December, Farfetch bought Stadium Goods for $250 million. Major cop.

A$AP Rocky makes skate shoe with Under Armour

the 14 biggest sneaker moments of 2018 A$AP Rocky Adidas Nike
Highsnobiety / Thomas Welch

A$AP Rocky has a reputation as one of the most fashionable guys out there, but his AWGE collective’s Under Armour SRLo collaboration, which was more than a little influenced by Osiris’ uber-chunky D3 skate shoe, was one of the more shocking sneaker moments of the year. Rocky bringing skateboarder Dave Mayhew onto the project opened up a fight with designer Brian Reid over who was behind the D3 in the late ’90s, but as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Paris Saint-Germain collaborates with Jordan Brand

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Highsnobiety / Chris Danforth

There’s nothing Jordan Brand seems to love more these days than crossing over into sports other than basketball. Recent years have seen the brand making jerseys for college football programs in Oklahoma, Florida, and Michigan. In 2018, the Jumpman continued the trend by collaborating with French football club Paris Saint-Germain. The team’s Champions League kit featured the Jumpman logo, while we also got a PSG Air Jordan 5, Air Jordan 1, and a collection of other athletic apparel.

NBA changes sneaker policy

the 14 biggest sneaker moments of 2018 A$AP Rocky Adidas Nike
Getty Images / Gregory Shamus

Heading into the current NBA season, the league did away with its strict sneaker rules, allowing players to wear shoes in any color they choose. Previously, players received fines for certain footwear choices, although the rules had been circumvented plenty before. Either way, now players can rest easier knowing they’re free to express themselves, so expect some more stunting by the likes of P.J. Tucker and Nick Young as the season wears on, especially once we head into the playoffs.

Kyle Kuzma x GOAT

the 14 biggest sneaker moments of 2018 A$AP Rocky Adidas Nike
GOAT

In a year when StockX and Stadium Goods got pumped up by investment or bought outright, LA Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma inked an endorsement deal with another resale platform, GOAT. Kuzma, who is a passionate sneaker collector and regularly rocks sought-after streetwear, now has the opportunity to wear almost any shoe he likes (well, any Nike shoe). It’s the first time we’ve seen this type of endorsement deal, and probably not the last.

Tom Sachs’ NikeCraft Mars Yard Overshoe

the 14 biggest sneaker moments of 2018 A$AP Rocky Adidas Nike
Highsnobiety / Louis Bryant

Tom Sachs’ Nike designs are unexpected and wildly different from most of the Swoosh’s other projects. While the Mars Yard and Mars Yard 2.0 are the crown jewels, Sachs pushed the envelope in 2018 with the Mars Yard Overshoe, which enveloped the original design space suit-style, keeping the wearer protected from the elements via a Dyneema upper, SFB sole unit, and buckle closures. It was originally slated for a November release, but the launch has since been pushed back to January. Still, we’re calling this for 2018.

Nike Element React 87

the 14 biggest sneaker moments of 2018 A$AP Rocky Adidas Nike
Highsnobiety / Bryan Luna

When early photos of the Nike Element React 87 surfaced with UNDERCOVER and Jun Takahashi branding, the entire sneaker community knew it had an immediate contender for sneaker of the year. The translucent nylon upper in combination with innovative React cushioning gave Nike a momentum that snowballed over the summer months. Even as sneakerheads waited for the UNDERCOVER collab, they were treated to a GR sail rendition that quickly became the most popular colorway. Nike later rolled out a trimmed-down version, the React Element 55, but the sleeker, more exclusive 87 was the one that caught everyone’s eye.

Nike ACG returns in full force

the 14 biggest sneaker moments of 2018 A$AP Rocky Adidas Nike
Highsnobiety / Jared Pearson

Nike revived its All Conditions Gear (ACG) line in 2014, but it wasn’t until 2018 that the sublabel really built on its return. Reissued footwear designs such as the Air Revaderchi, collaborations with COMME des GARÇONS on the Mowabb, and debuts including the Dog Mountain and Ruckel Ridge were all 2018 highlights. The apparel was just as memorable, too, with fleecy designs and always-weatherproof gear. Errolson Hugh might be leaving, but expect more throwback ACG goodness in 2019.

Sandy Bodecker passes away

As the architect of Nike Skateboarding, Sandy Bodecker was a monumentally important figure in sneaker culture. His tireless work refashioning basketball classics into skateable footwear gave the Swoosh a foothold in a sport it had previously struggled in, mirroring his previous success at Nike Football. After 36 years with the company, he sadly passed away in October aged 66. The SB Dunk was ground zero for sneaker hype, and we owe that to Sandy. Rest in peace.

The #readymadeoffwhite challenge

Partly fueled by customizers and Photoshoppers on Instagram, DIY sneaker designs had something of a moment in 2018. Things reached fever pitch in August when Virgil Abloh and John Mayer prompted sneaker lovers to customize their white OFF-WHITE x Nike Air Prestos. For weeks, everyone from staff members at sneaker stores to tie-dye maestro Online Ceramics (which dyed Mayer’s Prestos) found new ways to put their spin on the shoe. Abloh’s call to action showed just what can happen when you encourage people to embrace their creativity.

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.

Words by Skylar Bergl

Skylar Bergl is a freelance writer based in New York City.

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