2014 was a huge year for sneakers with countless memorable releases having come and gone. The sneaker industry is witnessing massive change and one can see the growing popularity of sneakers in the fashion community running parallel to the continued innovation within the sports/performance sector.
One of the key themes with sneaker design this year has been the development of more lifestyle releases that result from collaborations with varied parties from the streetwear and fashion worlds. In particular Adidas has continued to apply pressure to Nike through it’s established relationships with the likes of Yohji Yamamoto, Rick Owens , Kanye West and Pharrell. The later part of the year saw Nike continue to develop its SP (Special Projects) division with more limited and quickstrike releases that combine higher quality materials along with outside design influence from the likes of Errolson Hugh and Jun Takahashi.
As part of this commitment to the fashion industry, we see prices of certain more ‘luxe’ releases such as the Tisci x Nike Air Force 1 nearly reaching the pricepoint of high fashion designer sneakers. I think this is a good development in the long run as the sneaker giants are able to develop more innovative designs compared to largely apparel designers needing to figure out their own production and technology. It’ll be interesting to see if these trends perpetuate in the near year but in the meantime here is my personal list of the best sneaker releaes of 2014.
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Nike Kobe 9 HTM
The Kobe 9 now has a special place in sports history as it is the sneaker Kobe Bryant wore to move past MJ’s all time points scoring record. Outside of the signifiance in the NBA, the sneaker is also a milestone in the Nike Kobe signature line. As such it was given a special ‘HTM’ treatment (the braintrust of Tinker Hatfield, Hiroshi Fujiwara and Matt Parker). There’s been quite a few fire colorways of this sneaker to date but this remains my personal favorite (and the most limited). Unfortunately this extremely limited release now fetches prices well above $4000.
Adidas x Rick Owens Tech Runner White
Like any good Rick piece, these aren’t for just anybody. Adidas and Rick Owens partnered up for round 2 of there collaboration and this tech runner silhouette is more angular than the first go around. The clean spare colorway is both nostalgic and forward thinking and has a rightful place in every Rick collectors closet. You can still scoop a pair on sale over at SSENSE.
Concepts x New Balance Made in USA 998
With New Balance cranking out so many models each year, this one stands out in its unique color paneling and high quality Made in USA build quality. Concepts runs the sneaker game in Boston and it’s no wonder that they right by this design. This instantly sold out but will remain as one of the dopest New Balances to drop in recent memory.
Adidas Consortium Tubular White
The Adidas Tubular has been fairly billed as a poor mans Y-3 Qasa but until they make a white colorway, this might be the best option out. The upper removes the slightly obnoxious originals branding and keeps a clean shape throughout, with an added luxe touch of white crocskin which does not feel overdone. Basically this takes everything right about the Tubular and makes it that much better.
Nike x Fragment Design Air Jordan 1
Fragment has really killed the game this year with their Nike collaborations. The Hiroshi Fujiwara led organization brings their A game with this tweak on the black toe Air Jordan 1. Swapping out the usual red for the royal blue that MJ himself wore, this sneaker exemplifies how much better Jordans can be with a little bit nicer leather. These drop on the 27th at Nike Lab.
Air Jordan VI Infared 2014 Release
Each year Nike brings back a few of the most beloved OG Jordan colorways. The Infared VI release was one of the most coveted sneakers of the year. It had been some time since we’ve seen these sneakers return but this time there was the return of the 3M perforations on the upper . The VIs are one of my favorite Jordan models so this had an easy time making my 2014 list.
Air Force 1 Mid Flax
These Air Forces kind of snuck up on everyone despite the fact they are extremely close to a previous release of White Air Force 1 Mids. The buttery nubuck on these paired with a gum midsole made these highly coveted, selling out quickly worldwide. Since then the hype has died down a little but still expect to pay 2-3x retail for these.
Nike Air Huarache Triple Black
The Air Huaraches had a big year this year with the release of countless colorways. One of the best was also one of the most simple. The murdered out Air Huarache stands as one of the top releases this year as it is all about the shoes unfuckwitable midsole and shape. I regret not picking these up sooner as I do love this sneaker, but sometimes simplicity is best. Even in a year where black on black on black was experimented on every silhouette, this remains one of my favorites.
Y-3 Qasa Hi Black/White
The Qasa was a shoe I didn’t like on first sight. Since then however my appreciation for the sneaker has gone up steadily, particularly in this black/white colorway. The sneaker is the result of a design by Adidas VP of Global Design Nic Galway. The sneaker is perfectly dovetailed by Yohji Yamamoto’s return to directly designing for Y-3. I’m keen to see if 2015 will show continued promise from the Y-3 sneaker line and if Y-3 will introduce more great colorways of the sneaker.
Nike Lab Air Force 1 CMFT
The Nike Air Force 1 is a certified classic and it’s hard to improve on a design that has been relevant since it’s inception. The CFMT Nike Lab forces just take things up a notch with premium leather, a set of 3 laces and a leather wrapped midsole and clear outsole.
Still sizes available at Nike Lab.
Nike x Fragment Design Sock Dart
The Nike Fragment Sock Dart is a good example of an archival model coming back and being improved upon. There has been little heard of this sneaker for years and the team at Fragment Design did it justice with 4 great colorways, the best of which is the dark loden which is the first to be released. I’m excited to wear these and see how the other colors fare as well, as I have a feeling they’ll pair with a large range of fits.
Nike Air Max Plus TN Cyber Blue
This is one of those sneakers I wanted growing up but never got. They brought these back in OG colorways and I still love em to this day. The colors are vibrant and they’re comfortable as hell. These classics can really add to pretty any outfit you choose and if I have the opportunity I want to scoop these in a bunch more colors. I think this is one true heads will regret sleeping on, luckily there’s still pairs available from the likes of Footlocker.