Ok, so I’m a little late but 2016 was filled with so many gems it was really difficult to narrow it down to just 50. So folks here we are in January 2017 counting down the DeFY. New York Top 50 sneakers of 2016. Remember, these lists aren’t based off hype a lone but also on looks, (for retro’s) whether or not there are other or better retro versions available and of course execution. Enjoy and feel free to drop a comment!
#50. VANS LAMPIN
Originally released back in 1993 the Lampin saw a retro in 2013 with Supreme and a Japanese retro last year that was truer to the original. While it was really great to be able to purchase a halfway decent Lampin stateside in a larger size (and that the model was finally on the radar of someone that works at VANS), the color blocking was disappointing to say the least as was the choice of color ways ( both of which kept this release from breaking this years top ten). Lets get it right for 2017 please.
#49. FILA FX-100
The good news,someone at FILA finally woke up to the fact that the FX-100 in its original form should be in their constant rotation of offerings. The bad news though is that the choice of color way’s was EH. No OG Purple, No OG black white with hits of red, no all black with hits of red and white, white orange etc. Nope. Instead we got a straight up white and black retro (missing the hits of red of course for all your blandness needs), a generic looking black and red and of course the one color way that saved the lineup, this dope looking white, navy and red. If FILA can pump out better looking OG color way’s, possibly improve upon the shape (doubt this will happen) and keep all the original details in tact then look for more banga’s coming from the brand in 2017.
#48. TRAVEL FOX CLASSIC 900 SERIES
This one was definitely for the OG heads. While Travel Fox has been steadily released overseas the brand has never seen any proper releases since their 80’s/early 90’s hey day. In 2016 however we did see the return of some of their more remembered styles -some of which hadn’t graced store shelves in nearly 30+ years – and it was the 900 that was the one to own for 2016.
#47. NIKE AIR PRESTO SAFARI
These will be the Presto’s everyone years down the line will want. Heck, it was the retro that a lot of us were after for 2016. The Presto had a really big year and among the stand outs was the Nike Air Presto Safari. Complete with a dope Safari make up sales were strong for this one.
#46. PUMA CELL BUBBLE x TRAPSTAR
IMAGE VIA FOOTWEARNEWS
This Trapstar collab shoe was pure modern goodness. Lightweight, comfy and details like premium suede and soft leather accents that pulled together a great every day design.
#45. PUMA DISC BLAZE & BLAZE OF GLORY X COLETTE X RONNIE FIEG
Puma did really great things in 2016 and the collab with Colette and Ronnie Fieg was one of them. Complete with hits of Colette’s signature blue, Ronnies attention to quality control and of course two of PUMA’s greatest silhouettes made these one of the more desirable collab shoes of 2016.
A fresh take on a timeless classic -something that is very difficult to take on and even harder to execute but of course Nike did both. While I love my retro shoes more often than not in OG form, sometimes you have to make an exceptation and this was one of those times.
Mannnnnn, 2016 was a big year for Nintendo. Of course you had Pokemon Go -which did the impossible of getting kids out of the house, the Nintendo Classic Mini -which just so happened to be the must have gift this past Christmas and then these. The Vans Nintendo Collection fresh, colorful and of course filled with some of our favorite Nintendo characters. Well done guys, well done.
#42. NIKE AIR FORCE 180 RE-RE-RETRO
Third times a charm right? Nah, its always a charm when the Air Force 180 hits the shelves. Originally released back in 1991 then again in 2005 and 2012 (in both of these color way’s) the Air Force 180 came back yet again in 2016. While we all collectively hate the super small Air Unit, die hard fans can’t help but cop the shoe that in the Vintage USA days commanded hundred’s of dollars on the secondary market.
#41. NIKE AIR FORCE 1 LINEN x KITH RETRO
Originally released during the Air Force 1’s Give me two purrrrr days the Air Force 1 Linen was a welcome return from a store/brand that prides itself on high quality tasteful collab’s of footwear and apparel that has for some reason or another slipped the minds of the brands that originally created them. Now while the color may not quite match up to the original the consensus was that this was still a dope release in the Air Force 1 saga.
#40. adidas x PARLEY
Image via Hypebeast
Materials sourced from plastic waste found in Maldives and illegal deep-sea gill nets recovered by Sea Shepherd this shoe was not only good for the environment and an exciting look at what the future of footwear design may hold,but also pretty good to look at. Don’t stare to long.
#39. AIR JORDAN XIV RETRO “INDIGLO” & “OXIDIZED GREEN”
The Jordan XIV holds a special place in my heart. Released during my senior year in high school and carrying into my freshman year in college it brings me back not only to the great days of yesteryear but also the golden years of Jordan Brand. Complete in two of arguably the most popular color way’s of the 14, these were a low key want for many.
#38. ADIDAS SUPERSTAR QUICK STRIKE x RUSS BENGSTON & DJ CLARK KENT
Image via Highsnobiety
Let it be known, I love Camo print and so when images of these gems hit the net I drooled a little. Historically some of the best Superstar collab shoes have featured camo print (think Bape and Undefeated) and you can add the Quickstrike collection to that list. Put together in collaboration with OG’s in the shoe game (and by OG I’m talking guys that have been collecting pre-the Internet) DJ Clark Kent & Russ Bengston, the aged camo put both shoes in a whole other category of freshness.
#37. EWING 33 HI x STAPLE DESIGN & PUMA CLYDE x STAPLE DESIGN
Staples work needs no introduction and these two gem’s are a fine example of his capabilities. Both were perfectly executed in his signature pigeon color combo’s and both landed at number 38.
#36. VERSACE PALAZZO SLIP ON
“Luxe shoes” can sometimes be a little to gaudy, straight up ugly or sometimes nothing more than high end cheesy knock off’s of other brands work. These were a tad different. Featuring butter soft leather and a large finely crafted medusa head on the tongues of both shoes, these were a super fresh take on an otherwise simple silhouette.
#35. adidas TUBULAR DOOM PRIMEKNIT x KITH “JUST US”
Make no mistake about it KITH was on fire this year in the collab segment and this Tubular Doom was a great example of that. While they didn’t design the shoe they did make an already awesome design look even better.
#34. PUMA UEG COURT PLAY
This collab was all in the details. It was reminiscent of those Earl The Pearl Monroe Jordache and Clyde Spaldings which became something special with “Pearl” and “Clyde” typed outo the rear quarter panel of an otherwise nice but simple design for the time (of course it didn’t hurt that two legendary basketball players were endorsing them). Strip away the words on the midsole and you have a super fresh modern looking PUMA shoe. With those seemingly innocent details like “This Side Up” and “Gravity Resistant” written on the midsole it made them out of this world. (Of course it didn’t hurt that the shoe itself is $%&*@ dope looking too.
#33. PUMA CREEPER
IMAGE via WISHATL
Awarded shoe of the year by Footwear News the PUMA Creeper took a look that was popular in the 90’s and made it bang up to date. While I’ll agree that Kanye West made more noise, if anyone person & brand was a close second then it was Rihanna and PUMA.
#32. adidas x PHARRELL “HUMAN RACE” NMD
When I first saw this shoe the whole yellow and black thing and “Human Race” reminded me of Nike and Lance Armstrong’s ‘Livestrong’ campaign. Ultimately though it didn’t matter because the shoe looked great, felt great and relayed a positive message that was much needed in 2016 and beyond.
#31. KITH x BAPE FIEGSTA
Not much needs to be said about this tasteful release of a shoe that pre-2008 was one of the hottest on the planet. Made in Portugal with only the finest materials this release definitely had you banging on your chest.
#30.REEBOK THE QUESTION ‘RED TOE’ RETRO
Despite the fact that retro basketball shoe’s have taken a backseat to sleek looking runners and ultra modern “athleisure” shoes, timeless classic’s will never die and the Reebok Question is one of those timeless classics. If you own the blue toes then these were mandatory.
#29. NIKE AIR MORE UPTEMPO
The Nike Air More Uptempo was welcomed back with open arms and had a very big year. It seemed that every time they restocked they were gone just as fast.
#28. NIKE AIR JORDAN 1 TOP 3
Another model that had a really big year, the Jordan 1 top 3 was a mash up of three of the best OG color way’s of the Jordan 1. If you weren’t for non OG color way’s you made an exception for this one, or wait…………..
#27. NIKE AIR PRESTO ACRONYM
The Acronym Nike Air Presto was in super high demand this year. An updated take on the original presto this 2016 release may have Jumped the 2002 Nike Air Presto HTM Roam in terms of looks, popularity and overall freshness.
#26. FRAGMENT DESIGN x CONVERSE ONE STAR
A high quality classic done right in a beautiful color way. The One Star has always been one of my all time favorite silhouettes and Fragment nailed this one.
#25. EWING IMAGE
This was the shoe Pat was wearing during his historic 1994 NBA Final’s appearance. It’s also a shoe that (in OG form) is on display at MSG and one of a handful of shoes that none of us ever thought would return. While this might have been a biased number 25 for me being a Knicks fan, a Ewing fan and a lover of vintage kicks; the reality is Pat’s greatness coupled with dopeness of the overall design was enough to justify it to the masses as one of the best shoes of 2016.
#24. PUMA X DIAMOND SUPPLY CLYDE
This was the first ever PUMA x Diamond Supply collab and boy was it a good one. Quality was on point for all, the Tiffany Blue/black worked oh so well on the Clyde and if you walked away with any of them you walked away with #24 on the list.
#23. NIKE AIR JORDAN III TRUE BLUE OG
This is was one of those releases we never thought would happen. A True blue III WITH Nike Air on the heel?! No way. Yes way, but of course with some catches. The elephant print wasn’t close to the OG, a lot of people had issues with the red popping out over the tongue and quality issues were a major factor of many returns – not to mention all this for $220 USD. Overall though they were fairly comfortable and while they weren’t exactly a dead on re-issue of the OG (which his why they are at number 23 on this list) the consensus was that they will do….for now.
#22 EWING ECLIPSE ‘OLYMPIC’
Another first on the list. With this past summer’s olympics in full swing it was the perfect time for Ewing to bring back the Olympic Ewing Eclipse; a shoe that Patrick wore during his time on the legendary 92 Dream Team. They came complete with a special edition box and gold medal like the OG. Hat tip to the Ewing Team.
#21 adidas 3D RUNNER
When I wrote an article on how 3d printing could effect the future of footwear I never anticipated we’d be able to purchase a shoe like this so soon (even if that purchase opportunity was a long shot for most). What was even more interesting is how good they looked. While I don’t know how comfortable they are or functional for that matter (hence why they’re ranked at #21) the thing that intrigued me the most was how this single release is a spec of a peak into the future of footwear.
#20. NIKE AIR PEGASUS 92 OLYMPIC RE-RETRO
The Olympics in Rio had us all turned up and the footwear to match just added to that joy which brings us to one of a few gems in Nike’s Olympic Pack. Although this was the second time this shoe has retro’d I can never get enough OG 92 Pegasus. Memories of Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s ‘They Reminisce’, Street Fighter II battles on the SNES and days of just roaming without having to document everything on IG come to mind as do the thought that they really need to pump out more OG color way’s of this shoe as well as return to the 3M ‘Air Pegasus’ logo under the rear quarter panel plastic.
#19 NIKE AIR ZOOM SPIRIDON
Nike was playing zero games for 2016 bringing back this 1997 gem for the first time. Fit and finish was solid and the fact that tracking down pairs wasn’t exactly easy tells you that this retro struck a cord with purists and new fans alike.
#18. NIKE AIR MAX BW JADE, OLYMPIC &PERSIAN
The Nike Air Max BW has seen several retro’s over the years but this was the first time the jade color way returned since its initial 1991 release. The Persian & Olympic BW’s were also done well and fans were delighted to own them. Don’t let the fact that these hit deep discount through major retail fool you, this was a grail status trio.
#17. EWING 33 HI NBCF BREAST CANCER
This was a special release not only for the fans of the Ewing line but also Patrick himself. Honoring his older sisters battle with the disease Ewing Athletics in collaboration with the National Breast Cancer Foundation put together a finely crafted 33 Hi with all proceeds donated to the NBCF.
#16. NIKE AIR ZOOM SOLDIER 10
Aside from this being a shoe that will forever be tied with Lebron’s most satisfying championship win to date its also one of the best looking Lebron Shoes PERIOD. Good design meet’s historical championship win = Instant classic.
#15. NIKE AIR ZOOM TALARIA VOLT
ANOTHER 90’s classic we’d thought would never see the light of day was back again. Initially this shoe was impossible to get and then, somehow they showed up in droves at outlets. If you like the shoe or think you might then pick them up now because once their gone you’ll be reminded how dope this shoe is when you have to fork over that resale price in the years to come.
#14. NIKE AIR JORDAN 1 BANNED
These days it doesn’t matter how many times these things come back, black and red Jordan 1’s = instant sell out. And thats just what happened this go. Jordan Brand did right by the shape and materials and so…you know the rest.
#13. NIKE AIR JORDAN 1 HIGH OG METALLIC
If you’re over the age of 30 then there is a good chance that you remember the days when if you wanted to own this shoe you knew you’d better be ready to fork over hundreds if not thousands of dollars to do so. In 2016 however you had the luxury to pick these up on discount. Do your future self a favor, cop them now.
#12 NIKE AIR PRESTO GPX OLYMPIC
Arguably the most notable Olympic Presto from the earliest part of the 2000’s made a return for 2016 and did so in pretty good fashion. There were a few differences between the OG and this retro but ultimately it wasn’t enough to justify the $400 + going rate of the OG any longer. Thank you Nike.
#11. adidas NMD x BAPE
If you needed any reminder of how shady things in the “sneaker game” then look no further. For those that wanted these to actually rock, tales of a guy being able to secure over 100 pairs directly from Bape’s SOHO location as well as adidas was the ultimate gut punch. Drama aside if you were lucky enough to score a set and or you paid retail then you were able to secure yourself one of the best looking shoes of 2016.
#10. NIKE HYPERADAPT 1.0
Self Lacing sneakers. Do I really need to say more? Ok, I will. For many this was the shoe of the year for me it was definitely top 10 but not quite number 1. Retail was a whopping $720.00, availability was -don’t get your hopes up you’ll probably never own them- limited and while they looked great and the self lacing thing was dope (as well as useful for someone that may have some sort of health problem and cannot tie their shoes ) in the end they seemed a tad gimmicky with minimal performance benefit. The color way’s were fresh and modern and they were put together very well (should for the price). In the end Nike accomplished something we never thought possible and what this technology could further lead to is what got this one to number 10.
#9.adidas YEEZY 350 v2
Ye proved he wasn’t a one hit wonder with the 350 V2. If you weren’t quite into the 350 V1 or 750 for that matter then V2 made you a fan. Boost technology and that military inspired SPLY-350 set things off lovely. While adidas pumped out a few color way’s and availability seemed to be slightly more than past Yeezy releases it didn’t matter. The masses of shoe heads out there yearned for this model and the 750 as well as V1 of the 350 seemed to take a back seat.
#8. NIKE AIR JORDAN II OG LOW WHITE BLACK RED
Another low key gem this year that could be had for discount. If you picked these up then you’re already ahead of the game and if you didn’t you’ll regret it when their gone. The last time we saw this shoe in this color way (and this shape for that matter) was way back in 1995. That mean’s that if you wanted to own this shoe and wear it then good luck (unless you sole swapped them and you know they would look funky). Lets hope we don’t have to wait another 21 years for the hightop version in OG form.
#7 NIKE AIR JORDAN XI ‘SPACE JAM’
Had it not been that so much heat dropped in 2016 these could have EASILY made top 3. For 2016 Jordan Brand made owners of the 2000 and 2009 retro want to toss their Space Jams in the garbage (maybe not that extreme but you get it). While they were more like a PE than actual pair from Space Jam the higher cut of patent leather coupled with the white line and increased quality made these the Space Jam XI to own, well done JB.
#6 NIKE AIR JORDAN V BLACK SILVER OG
The last time we were able to purchase a Jordan V with Nike Air on the heel at retail (specifically this one) was way back in the year 2000. It seemed like although so many years had passed with technology seemingly being more advanced, JB couldn’t quite recreate the soft reflective tongue we were accustomed to with the Y2K retro and the OG 1990 Release. Overall though Jordan Brand did an outstanding job and the tongue was super reflective (something that wasn’t accomplished with two earlier retro’s in 2007 as well as 2011). A Jordan V very close to the OG with the Nike Air treatment got these to number 6.
#5. NIKE AIR JORDAN IV OG WHITE CEMENT
Part of Jordan Brands remastered series it was the first time was saw Nike Air on the heel of an Air Jordan IV since 1999. With the majority of those pairs no longer wearable the community had been yearning for a release truer to the OG for nearly 2 decades. Well, for 2016 Jordan Brand finally woke the you know what up. Although touted as remastered and as close to the original as possible we all knew that was would some may say “malarky”. The shape was pretty much just like every other retro since 2004 of the Jordan IV, not that great. The heel tab was also smaller and more narrow unlike the OG which was wide. Ultimately all that and the price hike to $220 didn’t matter because they were an instant sell out and looked good enough to give us warm fuzzy’s as if we were sporting the OG’s way back in 89. Now, if we can get the three other OG color way’s with the Nike Air treatment……………….
#4 REEBOK ALIEN STOMPER
Reebok dropped one of the biggest gems of the year when they released -as an exact replica to the shoes Sigourney Weaver wore in the 1980s film Alien- the ultra hight top Reebok Alien Stompers. Up until this point we had been force fed sad attempts at retro’s but Reebok went all out on this one. While trying to secure a pair was an absolute pain, those lucky enough to secure a pair were in for a treat. You knew if Reebok would do an Alien Stomper then there was hope that any of our favorites could come back. Still waiting on that Reebok SXT Pump retro though…………..
#3. NIKE AIR TECH CHALLENGE IV BLACK WHITE DARK GRAPE
Although many may disagree, for me, the Tech II, III and IV were the pinnacle of the Tech Challenge line. Sure, there were the Tech Challenge Huarache’s (which deserve an honorable mention), Air Flare’s and LWP’s- to name a few- that looked dope and performed well but by the time they rolled around the Agassi line’s popularity and cultural significance wasn’t what it had been in previous years. Although they never hit stateside (at least not yet) those that really wanted this release got them and Nike did an outstanding job delivering a quality on point retro in a model that hadn’t been seen in 17 years and a color way that was never retro’d.
#2. NIKE AIR PRESSURE
Who got the props? Who got the props? Any and everyone who copped! Ok cheesy I know. Anyhow, Nike threw us the ultimate curveball to kill your new years resolution in 2016 of buying less sneakers and saving dough when they re-issued- in true to OG form- Nike’s first inflatable sneaker and the direct competitor to the 1989 Reebok Pump, the Nike Air Pressure. When you heard the news this shoe would retro (which was like a week before they dropped) you probably speculated they wouldn’t pump and that OG box would in no way shape or form be included. Wellllllll you probably fell out when you found out that Nike was not only giving you the shoe in OG form visually, but also from a technical standpoint. Not only that, they were blessing you with the OG Box, hang tag and instruction booklet. Sure, towards the end of the year they begun showing up in outlets overseas for around 80 bucks and in state side Marshall’s and Century 21’s -some with the OG box but many without in the 69.99-169.99 range. That soured some peoples initial $300 purchase and thats understandable. Just keep in mind though, if you felt bad buying a wearable pair of one of the most historically significant Nike shoes of all time then just think how bad it must feel for the individual that spent thousands of dollars back in the early 2000’s of and OG example thats no longer wearable and is falling apart. In the end the fact that they showed up in the outlets didn’t mean anything outside a deal to be had for those that missed out and for those that wanted to double up. Remember, if Fragment Jordan 1’s can show up at Marshall’s then nothing is off limits.
#1 NIKE MAG WITH ADAPTIVE FIT (AUTO LACING)
Although the odds were not in any of our favors to win a pair of these, the Nike Mag was by far the sneaker of 2016 and it wasn’t even close. Who would have thought we would one day see a Nike Mag with legit auto lacing? In addition, the raffle to own this sneaker raised $6.5 million dollars for Michael J. Fox’s Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. While some were pissed at the extreme limited availability of the shoe and argued that more could have been raised for Michael J. Fox’s Foundation had they made more shoes available for purchase, in the end the shoe was here in the flesh, those that partook helped fight in the fight against Parkinson’s and the possibility of ownership (no matter how small) was still there.