For sneaker releases, 2023 has been a year to remember, with brands such as New Balance, adidas, Salomon, Nike, and more introducing unforgettable collaborations. Here, we’ve provided you with our top 10 sneakers of the year so far, explaining why they’re on the list and how they got there. Let’s go!
10. Kith x Clarks x adidas Samba
The adidas Samba has been enjoying another successful year. After its initial return last year, the 1940s silhouette is currently the most popular it’s ever been due to its effortless retro aesthetic and extremely fair price point. Ronnie Fieg’s Kith, Clarks, and adidas all joined forces earlier this year to put a luxurious spin on the Samba, combining signature elements from each partner to create this distinct, unified shoe. This iteration has been elevated with Clarks Originals suede and crepe rubber outsole, whilst leather heel lining and Ronnie Fieg, adidas, and Clarks tri-branding on the tongue complete the design. It’s not often you see three of the biggest names in the footwear industry take on such a classic silhouette, and what they created was something special. Therefore, they’ve got a well-earned spot on our list.
9. Action Bronson x New Balance 990v6 “Baklava”
New Balance has been killing the game with their collaborations for years, and this eye-catching collaboration with Action Bronson is no exception. For years it felt as though the Queens-born rapper was destined to work with New Balance, as his affection for the brand goes all the way back to his childhood when his mother used to wear them for orthopedic reasons. Bronson’s finally got his own collab, putting his innovative twist on the 990v6 model. The upper features a vibrant colorway that takes inspiration from pistachios on baklava. The bold blue midsole combined with the army-green suede and bright lime mesh creates a sneaker you will love or hate. We can all agree that this is one of the most creative collaborations we’ve seen this year, and we’re positive that these two will continue to work together for years to come.
8. Corteiz x Nike Air Max 95
London-based brand Corteiz have been making a name for themselves in the fashion industry for a while now. They’re known for their extremely limited releases, which nearly enough always sell out online, and managed to shock the sneaker world when the brand’s Alcatraz Island logo lit up Niketown in London, officially confirming that a collaboration between the duo was finally in the works. It was then announced that CRTZ would be putting their spin on the Air Max 95, introducing three colorways of the silhouette. Each color was released at pop-ups in different cities; London’s pair was olive green and black, New York’s iteration featured a grey colorway with pink detailing, and the pair dedicated to Paris was grey with blue accents. In a world where raffles and bots dominate sneaker releases, it was refreshing to see a drop executed in person with such hype and excitement. Even though this was an unforgettable collab, we’re sure that this is just the beginning of Corteiz & Nike’s relationship.
7. Sandy Liang x Salomon XT-6 Expanse
When you look at some of the most worn sneakers, Salomon is at the top of the list, with silhouettes such as the XT-6 and Salomon XT-4 becoming more popular as time goes on. So far this year, the French sportswear company has released some highly innovative collaborations, one of those being their project with NYC-based designer Sandy Liang, who made history as the first woman to collaborate with Salomon on a footwear release, and it’s safe to say that it did not disappoint. Liang worked on the Salomon XT-6 Expanse and the RX Moc 3.0, which featured designs inspired by her childhood memories of Pokémon characters and vintage Sanrio toys. For our list, we’re focusing on the XT-6 Expanse, which is decorated with her signature floral motif, complimented by Liang’s branding featured on the tongue’s extended pull tab, while green accents appear throughout the design, adding some vibrant contrast.
6. Tiffany x Nike Air Force 1 Low
This one causes a debate. For some, this collaboration between Tiffany and Nike on the iconic Air Force 1 Low is undoubtedly their sneaker of the year. Although some believe that it shouldn’t even be in the top 10. It’s an interesting one, which sometimes makes a sneaker so great, the conversation it creates. This was the long-awaited follow-up to the legendary Diamond Supply Co. x Nike SB Dunk Low from 2005, and it’s fair to say this Air Force 1 Low features a more simple and subtle design. Crafted with premium suede and leather upper covered in black, complimented by the contrasting Swooshes that pop with the iconic Tiffany blue coating. Luxurious detailing like Tiffany’s signature 925 silver on the heel completes the design of this collaboration, which was one of the hardest to get your hands on so far this year. Nevertheless, we believe it deserves a spot on our list due to the history and the conversation that it causes. Plus, who doesn’t love that Tiffany blue?
5. Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 860v2
The partnership between Aimé Leon Dore and New Balance is one that took many by surprise. The duo has introduced a number of collaborations on some of our favorite models, including the multi-functional New Balance 860v2 which was released earlier this year. Sporting a green and gold colorway over the breathable mesh upper, this release was on everybody’s wish list. The New Balance 860v2 was introduced as a running model, and the technology it boasts supports that, although ALD added a luxurious touch, meaning it quickly became one of the most seen on-foot around town if you were lucky enough to get your hands on a pair. This definitely won’t be the last we see from this duo; they’ve already taken on the New Balance 860v2 again, having announced 3 vibrant summer-ready colorways earlier this year that are now ready for pre-order ahead of a summer 2024 release.
4. SNS Exclusive adidas HRLM
This year, we joined forces with adidas to reintroduce one of the most mystifying models in sneaker culture, the adidas Harlem. After visiting their iconic Archive, we realized that even there, a place that tells the history of adidas in physical form, the adidas HRLM was not to be tracked down. To reintroduce this classic sneaker, we created a contemporary, as-close-to-the-OG update that is equally relevant for collectors on the hunt for an original pair and fans of adidas trainer culture. Built with a premium leather upper featuring nubuck overlays, different shades of blue on the three stripes, and an updated adidas Continental Lo midsole, this collaboration showcases everything that we at SNS and adidas are all about, honoring the history of sneakers, where they came from and helping them reach new heights.
Check out the adidas HRLM here.
3. Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 Low “Olive”
It’s fair to say that Travis Scott’s partnership with Nike has changed the sneaker game forever. The Houston-born artist has revamped some of Nike & Jordan Brand’s most iconic silhouettes, most notably the Air Jordan 1, adding a Cactus Jack twist with the backward Swoosh, tonal colorways, and yellowed midsole. The thing that makes this pair stand out from the rest of the Travis Scott x Jordan Brand lineup is the fact that it’s a women’s exclusive. No other collaboration between the two was limited to women’s sizing, making this one that much harder to get, therefore adding to the hype at an all-time high. Although this collab between the duo was possibly one of the best we’ve seen yet, it’s certain that they’re far from finished, and we can’t wait to see what else they create soon.
2. Air Jordan 3 “White Cement Reimagined”
As we approach the end of our list, the top spots can only be acquired by a sneaker that ticks every box. The Air Jordan 3 “White Cement Reimagined” certainly does that. The excitement for this release was at an all-time high once it was confirmed that it was designed to resemble the OG tooling and shape found on the 80s pair while adding a “Reimagined” treatment with the yellowed midsole and the inclusion of “Nike Air” on the back. Another aspect of this sneaker that possibly boosted its popularity was the number of pairs available. When it comes to most of the hyped Jordan releases, most people miss out and head to the secondary market to secure a pair. Although that wasn’t the case for this AJ3, for most people, anyway. The only downside was the quality control. Some pairs were arriving with inconsistent elephant print overlays and other issues, which is why this sneaker didn’t quite earn the number one spot, although it was definitely in contention.
Nike SB x Air Jordan 4 “Pine Green”
We’ve finally reached the number one spot on our list, and it’s fair to say out of all the pairs released so far this year, the Nike SB x Air Jordan 4 is one of few that can claim this position without any debate. Created to pay homage to the late Sandy Bodecker, who founded the brand’s skateboarding division in the early 2000s and originally worked as a developer on the Jordan 4, this creation manages to maintain everything about the AJ4 we know and love whilst celebrating how skateboarders have appropriated basketball sneakers over the years. The slight tweaks include a more flexible upper whilst the toe box is shaped to reference the original 1989 silhouette. Other than the details already mentioned, the nostalgia we gained from its release propelled this sneaker to our number one spot. We now live in a world where everything’s done online, and seeing true Jordan and SB fans rushing to their nearest skate shop to camp out and queue for this sneaker felt like a true throwback to how things used to be done.