The Bianco Top 10 Sneakers Of 2017
Happy new year, my friends. Yet another year of endless new designs, collaborations, colorways, slim, bulky, tech, and ugly sneakers is over, and it’s time for me to pick my favourite ten sneakers of 2017.
After seeing adidas rule 2016 with Boost, NMD, Kanye and his latest Yeezy drop, it was fascinating to see what the other brands, especially Nike, had to offer to fight back and retrieve hype, queues and Instagram likes. A lot of great and remarkable things have happened in 2017 so let's kick off this list from the top and stop investing time in this intro. Sound good?
1. Air Force 1
While brainstorming about this list, I had a very hard time not letting Nike sneakers take over all ten spots. After a dry 2016, Nike regained its magic and released a shitload of exciting sneakers, collaborations, and re-issues. Even though their sales numbers, especially in the US market, seemed to decline or at least not explode, their power and relevance on the streets, cool kids’ Instagram streams, and sneaker-friendly feet all around the world are back to a pretty impressive level. I say again, I could have quickly put ten Nike shoes on this list and would be confident that many people would fall in agreement. To mix up this list a bit, I decided to be a little bit more general on spot 1 and 2, because these two places delivered some crazy madness in 2017.
So let's start with the Air Force 1, an icon of the game and a real innovator that made Nike change their way of business forever. It was the Air Force 1 that first had Air in a basketball shoe sole. It was the Air Force 1 that made Nike re-release a Sneaker for the first time. It was the Air Force 1 that introduced city exclusive colorways and was somewhat of an introduction to the limited edition trend craziness.
It's 2017 and the Air Force 1 is back and stronger than ever and, at the same time, still innovative and exciting for a new generation of sneakerheads. With their move of bringing back the classic silhouette in a big ass marketing campaign, Nike made a Return-of-the-Jedi-esque move with one of its biggest icons and owned the release game.
From the traditional white-on-white, (always my favourite) to a highly impressive selection of collabs, The Air Force 1 showed the other big players how to re-release a classic sneaker, remix the design AND keep the OG silhouette, all while not fucking shit up. The best examples of those remixes in 2017 were, of course, the Off-White model, the Travis Scott collab, some A Cold Wall beauties, and the ACRONYM white-on-whites that found its own grassroots coloring movement through the Complex-Con. Not to forget one of my absolute favourites: the Japan-Exclusive Loopwheeler collaboration.
The Force is still strong and clearly won the game this year, at least for me. Let's see how long it can sustain in 2018, as we all know what happened to the Stan Smith revival and how we’ll probably have to wait for another 5 to 10 years to start wearing these adidas icons again. It's going to be exciting to see how and how long Nike can keep the Force alive. I’m actually down for another year. Easy.
2. Nike x Off White The Ten
Second place for 2017 involves a bunch of shoes all together to keep my favorites diverse, and to avoid making this list look like a lengthy Nike ad. Sorry, I just loved Nike’s 2017 so much.
Back in 2016, I decided to keep it lowkey and successfully lived without being swayed by collaborations, hype, and all that other shit that typically makes your life as a collector pretty exciting. Besides some exceptions in 2017, (some of them are in this list) I managed to stay a pretty dull, hype-free, OG sneaker collector. By the way, never try that, don't grow up, don't become one of these old cunts, hype is fine, etc.
This all changed when the first previews of the Off-White Nike Collaboration hit the net, and it felt like someone was bumping cocaine through my dried out, general release nostrils. It has been a super long time since I was that excited about a release and design. I’ve never seen such sleek, smart, and beautiful new interpretation of so many general releases. I know there is a lot of shit talking going on about Off-White, Virgil, his talent and his influence on the market, mainly by those boring, OG sneaker collectors mentioned above. But actually, these ten shoes were just fucking fabulous, no matter what name, designer, artist or label was behind it; make it a Bruno Mars collab (please don't) or Tina Turner, or put Ikea or Aldi behind it. For me, these ten shoes were wearable art, which summarizes everything I love about sneakers: innovation, iconic patterns, different disputable opinions, a famous designer, a lot of hype, a lot of hate, and a shitload of likes to go along with me wearing them on Instagram.
The Ten symbolize the essentials that a good sneaker needs, and Nike managed to release ten (eh, nine) picture perfect examples. In a time where the Yeezy 350 gets it 125th new colorway, Nike just flipped the whole game on its head and released an armada of shoes that deserve to get their own individual 125 colorways each.
On an honorable note, I wanted to mention that with their sneakers app and raffle release tactic, Nike did something great. Growing up in the sneaker scene came with camping out and waiting in front of stores, and I got sick of it. Over time, I could see how there was a switch of who was waiting in front of the stores: from collectors and lovers, to totally obsessed, pin rolling, pain-in-the-ass sneakerheads, and reselling-ripped-jeans wearing fuckboys. For years I couldn't see me or even some of my young and old friends taking part in this shit anymore without looking like a total idiot. Even though a lot of people will hate me for it, this online release was a blessing and maybe something that the market needed to do in order to lose those awkward, dreadful storefront lineups.
If I have to pick my top three out of The Ten, I would easily go for the Jordan 1 first. The deconstruction of such a classic and almost untouchable silhouette was absolute magic and will forever be remembered as one of the most interesting sneaker designs, ever. The second best of the drop would be the Air Force 1. Virgil, and his Italian design team, managed to keep the OG feel of the shoe but still managed to clean it up with a 2017 sleek revival. Number three is the Hyperdunk, because that's how a future sneaker should look like, as simple as it is.
On a side note: I leave the red tag on. I love you.
3. Asics Gel Quantum 360 Knit
When I first saw this shoe on Louis Ganellin’s feet, I felt like I was hit by lightning. Who the fuck was behind this beautiful, smart and futuristic design, where could I get it, and why have I never heard about it before? Being entirely into techwear around that time, I probably have never seen a smarter addition to my collection, other than one of my many highly functional, multi-pocket jackets, that actually makes my life more complicated. Sorry to my friends who have to wait for about 10 minutes until I can find my keys, bank cards, and cigarettes.
But let's talk about this shoe. The Asics Gel Quantum for me is Asics brilliant response to the Nike Vapormax. Even though no one asked that particular question, it just makes sense to look at its 360 Gel sole and see how they solved the problem of having a translucent sole, and managing to not make the shoe and sole look bulky or unusual. Owning and wearing one of these pairs is a blessing to your feet and a low-key addition to your wardrobe. Make sure to get the Knit version; it is more expensive but way sexier. Trust me.
4. Hoka One One Clifton 4
Hoka Hoka just jumped over Jumpman - No, not really, but I love the Clifton 4 and it's been a long time that I've gotten such comfortable shoes for such a nice price. At the same time, they’re easy to get, totally go along with the recent dad sneaker trend, and overall have a nice look and feel. Last time I was walking through Tokyo I could spot them on so many exciting people’s feet, and I felt happier than ever to own a pair. This may be just a small paragraph about them, but trust me, the love is real. An actual secret low-key pick that you should keep your eyes on.
5. Converse One Star
Another general release, and another easy-to-get sneaker for everybody. I'm still a big fan of great design that doesn't require dropping stacks or waiting in lines or opening an app or whatever. I figured the Converse One Star was a refreshing addition to this roster, and while being an incredible old model, Converse utilized their timeless classic magic on the One Star and made them feel fresh and beautiful.
While the skate scene remains a huge inspiration for people all around the world, the One Star is one of those incredible shoes that help make every outfit feel unforced and effortless. If you wanted to add some hype to your purchase, you can get a Neighbourhood and a Tyler collaboration and the incredibly beautiful Asap Nast collab that, for whatever fucking reason, Converse did not release in Europe. Buy some One Stars this spring and be happy; it is really that simple.
6. Nike Zoom Vaporfly
Let's talk about innovation, let's talk about the Nike Vaporfly.
However, I need to start this paragraph with the Nike Vapormax. When I first saw the design, I was extremely impressed, and honestly shocked a bit after looking at the price. I was continuously asking myself how it might feel to put my feet into this shoe. Literally walking on air made me think of something really special, ground breaking, something that I’ve never felt before. When I finally got my first pair, thanks to my amazing friend Merel, I set my foot in them and, yeah, they felt like shoes, like normal shoes, but a little bubbly. I mean, I do love them, but they were missing that kind of one-in-a-million feeling people get when they first step into something so new that their feet don't understand what's going on. At least for me.
So, why am I talking about my expectations on the Vapormax while talking about the Zoom Vaporfly? Because that one-in-a-million feeling I missed out on was felt as I stepped into the Zoom Vaporfly. I wasn't at all prepared for this, mostly because I had zero expectations except for loving the design. It's hard to put into words, but the foam, which the sole mainly consists of, gives you a straightforward push with every step. I might be even able to run a marathon now.
Design-wise there is not that much to add, except for "look at these beauties". I really do love the silhouette and I think that after the Flyknit runner there hasn't been another sleek Nike running shoe like this. Running looks sexy again, even for people that don't run.
7. adidas Consortium Twinstrike A//D
To be honest, it took me ages in terms of the internet (so, about 45 minutes of Googling) to finally find this sneaker. I've seen them on the net a couple of times, was always impressed, yet managed to forget about them and never had a chance to see them in a shop and make the purchase. But the adidas Consortium Twinstrike A//D is a straight fire design that makes me wonder how they went so unnoticed over the last few months.
Inspired by some stupid alternate universe, black hole design story, this shoe really has it all. Just a quick tip to adidas: release this shoe as the bomb as it is and try not to sell me a Star Trek movie on top. Thanks.
I truly love the design and will try to get a pair ASAP. Please, adidas, stick to this silhouette and praise the designer behind it and give me more sneakers like this in 2018. It's been a while since I've seen a shoe looking futuristic yet iconic and retro like this one. Almost like a Nike Shox turned into an adidas Terminator sent to the year 2017 to kill all other sneakers. How lovely.
8. adidas Yeezy 350
Surprise motherfuckers, I put the Yeezy 350 on my list. Even though this shoe might have already hit a major low by finding the feet of a shuffling, EDM loving, Ibiza attending clientele, I started to believe in this design. It grew on me over the last months and I believe there is a way to save this shoe from its possible meltdown. It's just the wrong - well, let's not say wrong, but it's just not my type of people wearing it right now.
I do see a future navy colorway (or just an available one, for that matter) of this shoe, which combined with a loose Japanese cut trouser would make for a really cold and clean outfit. I’m going to try to get my hands on these in 2018 and attempt to resurrect the style for us all. Trust me adidas. (send me some please)
9. CDG x NikeLab Dunk High Retro
I'm stupid for not buying these when I had the chance to. This is a piece of art. An ultimate collector's item and the final test of seeing if your sock game is done right. I will stay sad forever for not buying them. Goodbye. Next.
10. adidas Kamanda
And finally, Number 10 of this list is a shoe that will actually release 2018, but lucky for me I got my hands on a pair in 2017. So I can put them in here, right?
This release was some form of light at the end of the tunnel for adidas. Browsing through the adidas releases in 2017, I saw a lot of nice things but still didn’t feel that owning a pair of adidas would have added anything special or extravagant or beautifully low-key to my outfits. There was the consistently amazing adidas 350 SPZL and a lot of other great SPZL designs Gary Aspden has been doing, but somehow adidas Originals lost a little bit of their cool this year while still providing major numbers and big ass campaigns. It’s a really subjective point of view, but after Boost and Kanye, something new and fresh has been missing.
I do think 2018 will be a good year for adidas. Seeing them rise over the last years has been a beautiful sight, and I'm sure the adidas design team haven’t been asleep over the last months. The first sign of gaining weight and staying a thick sneaker player for me definitely is the Kamanda. The design is mad and probably just a hint of what the future will hold for the three stripes. The Kamanda seems like a classic transferred to the future, but the right way. I can see the Samba references crystal clear, and I still don't feel knocked out by its hyper-futuristic design. Great piece of work!
So after loving Nike in the intro for their fucking amazing year, I really do hope for adidas to return to power in 2018 and release some great shit together with Nike and the rest of the gang. Lets get it.
Honorable, random and Un-Honorable Mentions:
Basement x Nike
One love and mad respect to the Basement to pull this off, and a very smart move on Nike’s end to get this worldwide loved London powerhouse into their Swoosh game. I hope there is more to come. Please let Alex Ropes design some roadman madness Nike TN, or Air Max 110s.
Seeing Zara release its very own bulky dad sneaker right before adidas released its Yeezy Wave Runner 700 was a clear sign how prominent fast fashion is right now, and highlighted how long it took adidas from teasing things to actually release them. Don't let Zara outrun you again, adidas!
NB 990 / Stussy
What nice collab. That’s all.
This German brand still does the best clean white sneakers.
Stop doing shitty collaborations with shitty random brands. No one needs a Jagermeister shoe, or a stupid Ramen shoe, or a Smurfs x brand shoe. Don't make things weird, okay?
There are still a lot of Supreme x Nike Humara up for sale at nike.com. Get the shoe, it’s beautiful.
I forgot to put the Tom Sachs Mars Yard on this list. They would have probably landed on the third place. Shit happens.
Love to Brit Thoma editing this text and turning it into a smooth motherfucker!
Thanks for reading this. Bye.