Before we continue where we left off, a disclaimer. These are my favorite shoes of 2013. They probably aren’t yours. If you agree with my choices, that’s cool. If you don’t, that’s also cool. This is far from a definitive list of greatness for the year. Rather, just me taking the opportunity to shine a light on some of my favorite sneakers. Lets do it…
24) Mastermind x adidas Superstar 80′s
2013′s adidas x Neighborhood collaboration proved to be one of the hardest packs to track down this year. These Superstar 80s are draped in heavy, high grade leather and nice, understated details. For me, it doesn’t get much better than a black shelltoe.
23) Bedwin & the Heartbreakers x adidas Superstar 80′s
Back to back Superstar 80s! These were the polar opposite of the Neighborhoods as they’re still readily available (and on sale) in most stores, but they deserve a better fate. I’ve worn these almost every day for the last 2 months, and as is usually the case with a great shoe, they look better with every wear.
22) Ronnie Fieg x New Balance 577
We managed to keep this release super quiet. Even with all of the Black Friday drops, people managed to come up with the money for these, and I know everyone is happy that they did. Such a wearable shoe, and with a new pigskin denim treatment on top.
21) New Balance 1500 “Curry”
No collaborator necessary on these. The curry New Balance 1500s didn’t release in North America, but they landed in most Euro shops. UK Made 1500s are always a strong look, but this unusual New Balance color put them over the top. Grab a pair if you can still find them.
20) Air Jordan 1 “Royal”
The sneaker world had developed a serious thirst for the Royal 1s over the last 10 plus years, and that combined with a pretty small distribution list made these one of the harder shoes to grab this year. I came up empty, so here’s hoping they don’t wait another 12 years to drop them again.
19) Mita x adidas ZX8000
In a year where everything seemed to be camo, glow in the dark, or teal/mint, it was extra refreshing when Mita bucked the trends and went with a classic adidasEQT runner colorway on a ZX8000. Here’s hoping they serve up more of this in 2014.
18) Ronnie Fieg x ASICS Gel Lyte III “ECP Pack”
The East Coast Project set the bar pretty high for hype in early 2013. It was a hectic week for the whole Kith family, but I can honestly say that the shoes lived up to buzz. Both warrant their own spot in the top 25, but to be charitable, I’ll combine them into 1 spot.
17) Nike Flyknit Racer “Multicolor”
The Multicolored HTM Flyknits were probably the most sought after shoe of 2012, so a GR multicolor Racer was a no-brainer for Nike. These hold their own sitting side by side with the HTMs, and that says a lot.
16) Saint Alfred x ASICS Gel Lyte III
It was cool to see other US shops get a crack at the Gel Lyte III this year, and Saint Alfred had the most interesting interpretation.This beachy makeup almost looks like a different shoe with the tonal stripes and gum sole. Very cool.
15) Ronnie Fieg x New Balance 1600 “Daytona”
When Ronnie told me he was going to do a 1600, my first reaction was “really? A 1600?” Once again, he proved me wrong. I mean, just look at the toe. The perforations. Without a doubt, the best NB1600 ever.
14) HTM Nike Flyknit Chukka
Before Flyknit Chukkas started hitting shops worldwides, a handfull of doors stocked the 2 HTM colorways. The Blue Glow pair is particularly strong, but both feature the always welcome addition of a speckled sole. As great as they are, these weren’t the best Chukkas of 2013.
13) Concepts x New Balance 998 “Mint”
I’m not going to lie, my first reaction when I saw these on Hypbeast Essentials was “great…another mint colored shoe”. Then I saw the official pics, and I was sold…and then I saw them in person, and I was REALLY sold. The 998 is without exaggeration one of the greatest shoe models of all time, and these are right up there as one of the best colorways.
12) Undefeated x Nike Dunk Hi
When we look back at 2013, I think it will be remembered as the year that Nike started to re-issue classic lifestyle makeups, and Undefeated’s Ballistic Dunks were my favorite. If Nike continues re-releasing classic Dunk colorways, expect to see a bunch of these on next year’s list.
11) Nike Lebron X “Cork”
The Lebron X Cork is one of the most unique Nike shoes ever. These earned the reputation for being extremely fragile, but I still can’t help but applaud Nike engineers for pulling these off. I mean…they’re a performance shoe wrapped in a cork upper? WTF!?
10) Ronnie Fieg x ASICS Gel Lyte III “Flamingo”
The Flamingo Gel Lyte IIIs tend to get lost amongst the other strong RF collabs this year, but they really deserve some attention. Killer (and unique) colorway, and great materials (mesh toe FTW) make this one of the best shoes of last summer.
9) Bodega x New Balance 577 “Hypercats”
The Hypercat 577s by Bodega are the best New Balances of 2013. No, they’re not UK made, but I don’t care. The build and material quality is still top notch, and they feature such an interesting colorway. Bodega always swings for the fences, and this time, they hit a home run.
8) Fragment x Nike Lunar Force 1
It took Nike a little while, but I think they finally figured out that the Lunar Force 1 works best with a leather upper rather than synthetic. Exhibit A: The Fragment Lunar Force 1s. Another recycled makeup from back in the day, this is the best almost-Air Force 1 of the year.
7) size? x Nike Air Max Light “Urban Safari/Mowabb”
No other shop came close to Size? In terms of quality collaborative efforts this year. I’m pretty sure half of this top 100 could’ve been size? Collabs and exclusives, and nobody would’ve batted an eye. The best of the bunch was the Urban Safari pack Air Max Lights, featuring two ACG inspired colorways. The Mowabbs are so perfect that they managed to leapfrog a long list of big name Air Max 87 makeups to land in the top 10 of 2013. Congrats to the crew at Size? for a monster 2013!
6) Nike Air Tech Challenge II “US Open”
The Air Tech Challenge II is one of my favorite models of all time, and I’ve been waiting anxiously for Nike to show them some love. The US Open version is incredible. The leather is shockingly good, and every detail rings true from the changes in leather texture, to the 3M. Not to mention the fact that this model have been dying for a dark makeup since they launched! More please!
5) Nike Flyknit Chukka “Wolf Grey”
These Chukkas don’t have the HTM namesake behind them, but let’s be real…they’re better. If I had to pick a shoe model as the best of the year, it would be the Flyknit Chukka, and this is the best colorway. Easily top 5 worthy.
4) Doernbecher Jordan V
I’ve long loved Nike’s involvement with the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, but I’ve never felt very strongly about a DB Jordan before this year. The Doernbecher Jordan V delivers on all levels. They’re fantastic looking, wearable shoes with an amazing story behind them. Isaac should be incredibly proud.
3) Ronnie Fieg x ASICS Gel Lyte V “Volcano”
The Ronnie Fieg “Volcano” Gel Lyte V is the best ASICS of the year. The Gel Lyte III was starting to feel a tad tired towards the end of 2013, and it was a breath of fresh air to have a new model collaborated on. I think the V is a more complicated model to color block, and these feature a super challenging colorway that sets the bar REALLY high for 2014 Gel Lyte V collabs.
2) BAPE x adidas ZX5000
The BAPE ZX5000s were originally slated to drop in 2012 (and they actually made my list last year….whoops), but regardless of the year, they’ll end up close to the top. Camo has been made it’s way onto so many shoes in 2013, but nobody understands how to use it better than BAPE. adidas had a particularly strong 2013, but these stand alone as their best offering of the year.
1) Nike Air Tech Challenge II “Wimbledon”
The Wimbledon Air Tech Challenge II is the best shoe of 2013. Not only are the materials (perforated, pebbled and smooth leather) and details (3M, speckled laces, and terry liner) on point, but these released with no hype. No press release. No buzz. They just showed up in stores. The excitement of stumbling upon a shoe in-store is something that most new-age sneakerheads won’t experience, but this is as close as it’s going to get. Great shoe. Amazing release. Most importantly, the French and Aussie Opens are still to come…keep your eyes peeled.
That’s it! What a year, but here’s to an even better 2014! Big thanks and happy holidays to everyone that’s been following along through all 4 parts.