NOTE: UNFORTUNATELY, THERE ARE FORMATTING ISSUES WITH THIS POST. STUFF LIKE THIS HAPPENS SOMETIMES, BUT THE CONTENT IS ALL STILL THERE FOR YOU TO ENJOY!
Hey all. In the past two years, I have posted my personal lists for top sneakers at the end of the year. This year, I wanted to change things up a bit and check in after the first half of 2012 passed:
2011 was undoubtedly a great year for sneakerheads. Nike’s sportswear division continued the growth of the Foamposite line with a bunch of new colorways and one very classic take. Unique collaborations with stores, designers, and celebrities brought companies like Reebok, New Balance, and Asics back into the mainstream spotlight. One of the most beloved Air Jordan models saw a run of Retro releases that people gobbled up en masse. When this model was nowhere to be found, Jordan Brand stayed relevant with the scrambling and long lines caused by some of its other Retro releases. And if all of that was not enough, Nike even dropped the so-called “greatest shoe never made.” There was no question that by the end of 2011, the year would be hard to top.
We are only halfway into 2012, and while I do stand by what I just said about 2011, the first half of this year had some pretty amazing releases. Want more details? Check out my choices for the top ten sneakers of the first half of 2012.
Nike Roshe Run
- Nike Roshe Run “Iguana”
Ah, yes. The so-underrated-it’s-overrated sneaker of 2012 just slipped into my top ten of the year so far. When I first saw images of the model months back, I was pretty intrigued. A chukka form with a Free-like sole and breathable mesh upper for only $70? Sign me up for a pair! Unfortunately, I cannot put this model any higher for now, due to the lack of appealing colorways so far. Makeups like the Black/Solar Red and Iguana are intriguing, but I just can’t convince myself that I’d enjoy wearing either on a normal basis. Perhaps the blue and orange pair slated to drop soon will change my mind… (Picture via Highsnobiety
9. Nike Hyperdunk 2011 Supreme “Galaxy” Blake Griffin PE
Nike Zoom Hyperdunk 2011 Supreme "Galaxy" Blake Griffin PE
Shame on you, Nike. Seriously…shame, shame, shame. I loved this sneaker after detailed pictures started to pop up. The moon effect on the upper was like nothing I had previously seen on a sneaker. The black-and-white star pattern found on the laces, midsole, and heel cup game the sneaker some interesting contrast. The bright orange on the swoosh totally pops off the upper in a radical way. And, of course, there’s that crazy, colorful “Galaxy” print on the lining and outsole of this Hyperdunk 2011. I didn’t even care that much for the Blake Griffin co-sign. It was the aesthetics of the sneaker that really caught my eye. Unfortunately, this sneaker has not made it’s way to United States shelves, and has only officially been released in Asia so far, making it more of a pain to look at than a joy. *sigh* (Picture via SneakerFiles
8. 24 Kilates x Asics Gel Saga
24 Kilates x Asics Gel Saga
For the typically European crowd of runner fans, this release was one of 2012′s biggest so far. Unfortunately, this 24 Kilates and Asics collaboration did not get much more attention outside of that sphere. This sneaker is smooth and elegant, but does not give up colors to get that look. A lush green suede, bold, bright red spots, and just a little bit of gold accenting puts this Gel Saga over the top. Add a white midsole and gum outsole, and what do you get? Beauty. If the sneaker wasn’t so hard for an American to get his hands on, you probably would have seen my pair on video already. Definitely would have been a nice sneaker to have in my possession to add onto my Asics collection. (Picture via 12ozProphet
7. Ronnie Fieg x New Balance 999 “Steel Blue”
Ronnie Fieg x New Balance 999 "Steel Blue"
In most cases, the main draw factor of a sneaker (at least for me) is its colorway. For Ronnie Fieg’s latest runner design, though, that was not the case. I am a huge fan of the crazy colors that Ronnie uses in his designs, but that’s not all that I am a fan of. Otherwise, I would not have ended up buying a pair of “Steel Blue” 999s. In this case, the colorway acted as a perfect compliment to the main standout feature of this New Balance: the sneaker’s high-grade quality and craftsmanship. The subtle Steel Blue shade, paired with a charcoal grey, showcases the plush pigskin and nubuck used on this 999. Throw in off-white for the premium leather accents and super-soft nubuck tongue, and you have a sneaker that should be highlighted as something with quality and a upscale look made to go with more formal menswear. (Picture via Kith
6. Nike Air Force 1 “Year of the Dragon II”
Nike Air Force 1 "Year of the Dragon II"
I have a lot of beloved models in my small collection, but one NYC favorite that I’m just not really into is the Air Force 1, particularly due to its bulky sole. Now, for the most part, the model dictates whether I like a sneaker or not. However, as I conveyed before, the true salesman is the colorway. Throw a mean colorway onto a generic model, and I’ll be very satisfied. Throw a totally unique, special colorway onto a model that I do not usually like, and you might just see me going after that sneaker. The “Year of the Dragon II” Air Force 1 is a case of the latter. The first time I saw the colorway up close and personal was when my friend Jonas wore the sneaker to the Drake concert at Jones Beach. Right then and there, I knew it was something special. For one, the colors on the shoe (bright blue, vibrant red, gold) work well together to create one crazy design. Then, account for the quality and detail put into making such a design, and you have a killer sneaker on your hands. The satin lining, the leather-wrapped midsole, and the multi-colored knit tongue are just some of the features that, when paired with the high energy colorway, put this Air Force 1 above thousands of other Air Force 1s and most of 2012′s sneaker releases. (Picture via Home of the Sole
5. Nike Air Foamposite One “Galaxy”
Nike Air Foamposite One "Galaxy"
Who knew that what I thought was the worst sneaker of all-time when I saw the first sample would eventually make it high on a countdown like this? Some say that the “Galaxy” Foamposite One is all hype, and if the multi-colored sample that Gentry Humphrey first wore was the release version, I would have totally agreed. As for the deep purple/blue “Galaxy” print version with a glow-in-the-dark sole and a rad “Remove Before Flight” tag? I was enamored at first sight, just as plenty others were. Thankfully, I didn’t feel like I had to go through the madness of getting the sneaker, as I already had two similarly colored Foamposite Ones in the “Eggplant” and “Royal” versions. I passed, and still don’t have a pair. Because I already have the other two Foamposites, I probably will never actually get a pair of “Galaxy” Foams, although I almost bought a pair a couple months ago. I wonder if my feelings on the sneaker would change if that transaction went through. Alas, that’s what “what if”s are for… (Picture via Infegy
4. adidas Originals JS Wings “Denim”
adidas Originals JS Wings "Denim"
I have a thing for all-denim sneakers. I also have a thing for out-of-this-world sneakers. Jeremy Scott caught my eye in the past with some of his other JS Wings colorways and the JS Bear, but when I first saw the “Denim” makeup of the JS Wings in mid-2011, I was taken aback. For the most part, JS had thrown either basic or gaudy colorways onto the JS Wings. This colorway made a statement, but not in any sort of excessive way. It was simple, classic, something that JS had never really doine before. And let me tell you…it was one thing to see the shoe online, and another to actually hold it in my hands. The washed look and plush feel of the denim are major pluses that show themselves that much more in person. The sole is probably what you would get if you put gum rubber and translucent rubber together, and my, did it look good with the denim. Little details like the denim-style laces, bronze accents, and denim tag with a message from JS make this fantasy of a sneaker even richer in detail. An absolute home run for Team adidas. (Picture via BKRW-Denim
3. Ronnie Fieg x Asics GT-II “Super Red 2.0″
Ronnie Fieg x Asics GT-II "Super Red 2.0"
By the end of 2011, I had what I considered my two favorite Ronnie Fieg x Asics collaborations in the “Mint Leaf” Gel Lyte III and “Ultramarine” GT-II. I was totally satisfied with the two pairs of Asics, and if anything, only wanted to go after a pair of “Navy-Aqua” Gel Lyte IIIs. Based on previews of his 2012 collaborations, I wasn’t so into what was coming. Then, I saw some more detailed pictures of the “Super Red 2.0″ GT-IIs. As soon as I got a better look at the shoe (and the colorway, in particular), I was sold. There are plenty of bright red sneakers out there, but Ronnie’s latest had outdone them all. First, and most noticeable, is the effect that the use of pigskin, as opposed to leather or nubuck, has on the sneaker. Super Red turns into Super, Super Red. Really, really bright red. And if that wasn’t enough, Ronnie picked the perfect accent color to bring out the red even more: a smooth Lightning grey shade. The color looks good in specs on the upper, but where it really works is on the sole. An all-Lightning sole makes the Super Red pigskin upper even brighter. Probably one of the most radiant red sneakers on the market. Ronnie, salute for making yet another killer runner, and undoubtedly one of the best sneakers of 2012 so far. (Picture via Kith
2. Nike Air Yeezy II Black/Solar Red
Nike Air Yeezy 2 Black/Solar Red
Bang. Bang. Bang. I wish I had the balls to shell out the money needed to get a pair of Yeezy 2s. When I first saw the model on Kanye’s feet at Coachella, I was pretty unimpressed. The Net/Net Air Yeezy was, and still is, my favorite sneaker of all-time, so the Yeezy 2 had quite the tough act to follow, At first glance, I did not like the new direction, mainly because I was a huge fan of the super high-top look found on the original Yeezy. Then, the colorways were revealed, and although I liked the Black/Solar Red makeup, I was left bitter without any sort of follow-up to the Net/Net colorway. Even when it came down to the release day, I wasn’t stressed about finding a pair of Yeezy 2s for a decent price. For one, I was not about to pay $2000+ for a sneaker. More important, I still was so turned off from the differences between the original Air Yeezy and the Air Yeezy 2. Then, fast-forward a couple weeks after the release, and Dylan’s Black/Solar Red pair comes in. Of course, I was looking forward to actually seeing his pair in-hand, but little did I know how much I would enjoy it. Throughout it all, I lost sight of how awesome the silhouette is in comparison to anything else on the market. This was still a Yeezy silhouette with the mid-foot strap, immensely powerful glow-in-the-dark sole, and stealthy, yet high-energy colorway. And the luxurious details on the shoe, like the premium anaconda-imprinted leather, metal aglets, and super-comfy leather insole look (and feel) so much better in person. The rest of the features on the sneaker (bright Solar Red lining, mesh upper, patterned mesh tongue, back ridges, VacTech swoosh) help bring everything together into one hell of an out of this world, space boot design. And that’s the way I like it. I would get the Black/Solar Red colorway in an instant if it wasn’t for price. Unfortunately, owning a Yeezy 2 will probably just be a dream for a long time. (Picture via SneakerFiles
1. Air Jordan IV Retro “White Cement”
Air Jordan IV Retro "White Cement"
Yes, I love great color combinations, and yes, I love unique hues. However, I also love when the model, and not the colorway, does the talking for a sneaker. Such is the case with many of my favorite Jordans. Whether it’s the actual form of the model or specific features (elephant print on the Jordan III, translucent sole and huge tongue on the Jordan V, chenille tongue patch on the Jordan VIII), my favorite Jordans are radical, but not in a totally insane way. My “White Cement” 4s absolutely fall under this umbrella. The model, for one, is very technical, but not in an overwhelming way at all. The base-colored netting, off-colored lace hoops, plastic back tab, and, of course, the infamous speckle “Cement” print make this shoe stand out among others, even though its colors are so simple. The structure of the Air Jordan IV midsole is also pretty cool to me, with the visible air in the back and the little bump in the middle. However, the cherry on top of everything for me is the tongue tag. That “Flight” script and the red Jumpman on the mainly white upper is just so bold. No matter how far I see this sneaker from, that tag will always stand out to me. At times, it’s just so crazy to me that a sneaker with such a simple colorway can be so appealing, but then I look at the Air Jordan IV silhouette, and I stop questioning myself. So ahead of its time. You can be sure that I’ll be busy this Black Friday trying to get a pair of Bred IVs, but for now, the “White Cement” IV, my favorite sneaker of the first half of 2012, will certainly do. (Picture via Jordan Brand