I want to be clear right off the bat: Some of the sneakers on this list were not released in 2016.
When we first started our annual Editor’s Sneaker Picks back in 2013, the theme was shoes worn over the course of the previous year, and while we’ve kept that strict standard, that doesn’t always mean that one wears the most hyped shoes when they first drop.
In fact, I prefer to keep some of the most hyped sneakers on ice until heat in the kitchen has lowered, in order to break them out when people are on to the next great model. To me, it’s a good reminder that “newest” does not always equate “best.”
Regardless of when the sneakers on this list were dropped, they all served me well in 2016. And while they’re not all the most hyped shoes around, they’re my favorites. I know not all sneakerheads will agree with my choices (fair enough), but this list is not theirs—it’s mine.
10. Sneakersnstuff x adidas Originals Stan Smith “Shades of White”
February 2015 drop. Originally released with gorgeous salmon-colored laces, this special-edition Stan Smith in white Nubuck for the masters at Sneakersnstuff in Stockholm became my daily wear pair in 2016. Like all good Stans, a bit of dirt and grime gave the white walls a patina that scream wearability. And while the salmon laces are long gone, a fresh pair of white laces continue to breathe live into beaters that will remain in my collection for years to come.
9. GREATS Pronto “Hairy Suede”
October 2015 drop. Say what you want about the inspiration on this kick, but the Italian-made GREATS Pronto limited edition in hairy suede served me well in 2016. The (very) stiff Vibram sole required some wear to break in, but once achieved, the ride was comfortable for hours on end.
8. Tenue De Nîmes x Converse All-Star ’70s “Indigo Dipped”
April 2016 drop. Amsterdam’s Tenue De Nîmes first dipped Chuck Taylor in Japanese indigo back in 2011. While original Chucks are notoriously uncomfortable on long wears, they were a summer favorite of mine. In 2016, TdN did it again, this time with vastly more comfortable All-Star ’70s. Limited to 100 dipped pairs, these ’70s lows just killed it.
7. Highsnobiety x adidas Originals Ultra Boost
April 2016 drop. This one’s a no-brainer. We developed the best (and one of the most difficult to get) Ultra Boost collaborations of the year. With a grey leather cage, and beautiful knit upper, this was all ours. Congrats to those who copped.
6. adidas Originals NMD_R1 Pitch Black
July 2016 drop. With only 500 pairs made for “friends and family” and 100 set aside for a Snapchat giveaway on adidas Originals’ account, these were grails. Things got even crazier when an extra special set of influencers started receiving the ultra-limited “Urban Utility Kit” Rimowa luggage. The only shoe more rare this past year was Pharrell’s own “friends and family” purple Human Race.
5. Bunney x Converse Jack Purcell Signature Ox
April 2016 drop. As a huge fan of the modernized Jack Purcell Signature (yes, it’s better than the original JP), the Bunney JP Signature collaborative drop in Linton Tweeds fabric with Petersham grosgrain ribbon was a huge favorite. This one was a sleeper for many due to limited distribution, but I did my best to represent. That lucky rabbit’s foot charm did the trick.
4. Nike Air Presto ID “Portugal”
July 2016 drop. Another no-brainer: after Portugal won the UEFA EURO 2016, my family wept and partied for days, and Portugal declared a national holiday while I did my best to celebrate by drinking cases of Sagres beer. A week later, a good friend gifted this all-white Presto affair with the Portugal flag on tongue. Note: while flags are no longer a custom option, you can still get Presto white on Nike ID for $160, or wait a little bit for the official $120 delivery.
3. adidas EQT Support ADV “Art Basel”
December 2016 drop. You have to give it to adidas Originals and their social activations. Over the course of a day, they dead-dropped 1,000 pairs of the new EQT Support ADV model on the streets of Miami during Art Basel for free. I was there to witness the madness and lucky enough to walk away with a pair in my size. A beautiful silhouette in a strong colorway.
2. Nikelab Air Footscape Woven
August 2016 drop. Nikelab reissued a number of Air Footscape Wovens in 2016 available through limited Niklab doors like DSM. This colorway was part of a two pack that included a black edition. If you know me, you’ll know my love for Footscapes; there was no way I was missing these.
1. Kim Jones x NikeLab Air Zoom LWP
July 2016 drop. Edward said it best in his top 10 list calling these the most comfortable sneaker of the year. My love for these Kim Jones Air Zoom LWP came after the silhouette sat on my shelf for the better part of two months. Only in the fall did I break them out. But once, I did, I put my Acronym Prestos and NMDs to the side, at least for a little while.