During 2019 we saw a transition of dad-inspired sneaker to the off-road hiking-inspired sneaker. We see this as a relief. We were getting a little bored of the chunky dad shoe as brands raced to see who can make an uglier sneaker. Perhaps because Balenciaga, who helped bring back the chunky dad shoe, made the transition to track-inspired sneakers, it became more comfortable for the streetwear crew to accept the end of the “dad shoe” and go back to a slightly lighter sihoutte. Whatever it was, we owe sneaker designers our gratitude.
2019 also saw brands like Asics and New Balance step up their game and in many ways, jump ahead of stalwarts Nike and adidas; another something we too were all too happy to see. Here are our picks for 21 best sneakers of 2019.
“In some ways, you can think of no bad days as the next step of no days off. If No Days Off was about pushing through the natural impulses to stand still in favor of making every day a productive one, No Bad Days is about pushing through the natural impulse to allow instinctual, physical reactions to dictate your state of being, and ending every day with a positive mindset.
Like the No Days Off variant, the No Bad Days 997S is fully intended for daily use, so the basic structure of the shoe, mesh uppers, leather and suede overlays, neoprene bootie, dual ABZORB and ENCAP cushioning and laminate heel counter remain the same. The transition to a mentally focused approach is marked by an inversion of placement. On the No Days Off model, The distressed suede, was featured prominently on the lateral overlay panel and wavy, 660 inspired mudguard.
These high visibility areas outwardly projected the physical results of the no days off ethos. On the No Bad Days 997S, the lateral overlay panel and mudguard are rendered in leather, with the distressed suede relocating to the medial overlay. This inversion is repeated with the dimple embossed neoprene, which also relocates to the lateral of the No Bad Days. This rearrangement keeps the results of your daily efforts evident, if you know where to look, but presents a fresh, undeterred face as a first impression.” – Bodega
ASICS GEL-Kayano 5 360
“Embrace all-day style and comfort with the men’s GEL-KAYANO® 5 360 sportstyle shoe. Originally launched in the ’90s, this ASICS design has been remixed, resoled and relaunched for a new sought-after style that looks and feels good to wear. Showcasing signature ASICS branding, the shoe features a molded SOLYTE™ midsole, which gives the design an exceptionally lightweight quality as well as excellent bounce-back and durability. It’s footwear for today’s times, adapting to a wide range of looks and occasions with its versatile style, and keeping you stable on your feet with its moulded TRUSSTIC SYSTEM® technology under the midfoot area. Complete with GEL® technology cushioning and an EVA sockliner for total comfort, the GEL-KAYANO® 5 360 model is stylishly crafted, resulting in a contemporary shoe with high credibility.” – Asics
Collaborations we loved: Chemist Creations and AWAKE
Nike Zoom Vomero 5
“In 2007 the Air Vomero introduced Cushlon foam—softer and more responsive than anything available at the time. The running staple also plays a prominent role in Nike’s history of ride due its combination of full length Zoom Air, Cushlon and Duralon technology. Although the Vomero was designed for everyday athletes, the silhouette has transformed into a lifestyle, everyday essential.” – Nike
Martine Rose x Nike Air Monarch
“The Nike x Martine Rose Air Monarch IV is a collaboration with London-based menswear designer Martine Rose. It features a synthetic-leather upper and a full-length Nike Air unit for lightweight cushioning and durable support in a versatile shoe.” – Nike
Kiko Kostadinov ASICS GEL Korika
“Preparing athletic sneakers for the street, ASICS and Kiko Kostadinov join forces once again, blending sporting silhouettes with contemporary fashion trends. Aligning more with a mainline model from the Japanese brand, in comparison to the usual collaborative offerings with the Bulgarian designer, this all-black GEL Korika uses breathable mesh up top and a combination of GEL cushioning and FlyteFoam™ underfoot to prepare it for heavy wear in all situations.” – End Clothing
Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 “Cactus Jack”
“The Air Jordan I celebrates Travis Scott, hip-hop artist, record label founder and Houston, Texas native. Details on the shoe, including a reverse Swoosh and hidden pouch, help set this edition of the storied sneaker apart for the rapper and producer, and for Cactus Jack Records.” – Nike
Off-White x Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 5
“Landing in three colorways, the sneaker features a nylon upper with suede overlays and a hiking-inspired lacing system that wraps further around both sides of the foot. A Nike Zoom sole sits in between the upper and a spiked, track and field-inspired outsole. Off-White™s customary branding is seen on the medial side of the shoe, as well as on the zip tie attached to the laces.” – Highsnobiety
Beauty & Youth x New Balance X-90
“X-90” is a shoe with a new form that blends innovation and classic style with new balance. It was born with the inspiration from the “99X Series”, a flagship model that symbolizes the brand, focusing on the 1990s, when many new products were released in the 112 years of the New Balance brand. It is a pair that combines a simple upper that refines the past design with a voluminous sole unit that was mainstream in the 90s. The upper is inspired by the 990V2, 991, 992, and 993 from the “99X Series”, including the classic small N logo and the asymmetrical color strap structure. The sole unit is a new midsole with high volume and impact that has excellent cushioning and stability. It blends the unique design line of the 990V3 midsole, 991 ABZORB, and 992 solid. This model is EXCLUSIVE of BEAUTY & YOUTH based on gray and black, which are heritage colors of new balance.” – Beauty and Youth
ASICS Gel Fujitrabuco 7 Gore-Tex
“You’ve moved on from pounding the streets, footpaths and parks. You’re now seeking out the muddiest, rockiest, toughest trails, and you couldn’t care less if it’s raining. On trail runs like these you need the new men’s GEL-FUJITRABUCO™ 7 G-TX trail running shoe. The most protective, most comfortable shoe in its class, this shoe gives unrivalled support to your entire foot, carrying you effortlessly across uneven ground and providing outstanding traction on any terrain.
This cleverly designed shoe features premium support and protection from no less than seven technologies. Heel-to-toe stability innovations include a FLYTEFOAM™ Lyte midsole, and enhanced midfoot hold. This is the lightest material of its kind, and it snaps back to its original state after each and every stride, delivering a noticeable difference in cushioning and bounce.
We’ve also included rearfoot GEL™ technology cushioning for shock attenuation, SpEVA™ 45 lasting for shock absorption and rebound management, and an EVA insole to further ramp up the comfort. DUOMAX™ technology holds your foot stable, keeping it in your natural line of motion while counteracting overpronation. Trail mesh lets your feet breathe while the GORE-TEX fabric keeps everything element-proof. Running at night or before the world is up? We’ve included reflectivity to keep you visible out there.
It’s all about the traction with trail shoes, and the GEL-FUJITRABUCO™ 7 G-TX shoe delivers, and then some. With a new aggressive spec sole that includes tough multidirectional lugs, a rock protection plate and sticky grip, you’re equipped to tackle every terrain from slippery rocks to muddy endurance trails. And it’s a great-looking shoe, with its brilliantly-integrated ASICS infinity logo putting a stylish stamp to the design. It’s over to you to obscure it with mud.” – Asics
Packer x Ellesse Piazza OG
“During the ‘80s at the original Packer store in Yonkers, Ellesse was a coveted staple on the shoe wall. Amidst a crowded marketplace of competing brands at the time, Ellesse stood out from the pack on the strength of its luxurious look and feel and the premium Italian heritage backstory that gave it an intrigue and mystique all its own.
While Ellesse was best known for their presence on the tennis court, the streets of Yonkers, and many cities like it, adopted the brand as their own. They had a variety of popular footwear models during that era, but for many, nothing rivaled the Piazza.
Packer is proud to pay tribute to a cherished chapter in our history by celebrating the return of one of the last buried treasures of the golden age of sneakers. After partnering for the release of the original Vinitziana back in 2017, we urged Ellesse to reach back into their vaults for the Piazza, a shoe that means everything to the collective memory of our two brands.
After over a year of working hand and hand to ensure each aspect of the shoe was perfect, the day we’ve been waiting for is finally here. For our owner, Mike Packer, specifically, who worked in the family shop as a kid and remembers every detail about what these shoes meant and even who bought them, this shoe was his self-proclaimed “white whale”.
In a day and age when seemingly every classic silhouette in sneaker history has been regurgitated and run through the mill ad nauseum, it’s a true honor to be the exclusive retailer for something that will provide a special moment for a lot of people and a rare chance to get back a feeling that only comes along so often in 2019.” – Packer
Nike x Cactus Plant Flea Market Air Vapormax 2019
“In honor of Air Max Day 2019, Nike collaborated with designer Cynthia Lu for an avant-garde take on the VaporMax, which resulted in the Cactus Plant Flea Market x Air VaporMax 2019 sneaker. Released May 2019, the deconstructed design features an exposed-seam mesh upper, underscored by a cord Swoosh and a smiley face at heel, a nod to Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ campaign. Below, the design is padded with its trademark full-length VaporMax bag, completed in a multi-color finish.” – GOAT
adidas originals LXCON
“Inspired by a classic pair of running sneakers from 1994, these shoes offer a new interpretation of a vintage style. A high-profile midsole keeps the ’90s vibe authentic. The breathable knit upper gently hugs your foot for a soft, lightweight feel. Adiprene cushions the ride.” – Adidas
New Balance All Terrain Hierro v5
“The Fresh Foam Hierro v5 is designed to go the distance. Engineered with a plush Fresh Foam midsole, a Vibram® MegaGrip outsole for traction and an upper that’s refined for improved breathability and protection, this men’s trail shoe will push you to reimagine your boundaries.”
Salomon S/LAB XT-4 ADV
“The S/LAB XT-4 ADV is a robust trail running shoe which provides a stable and cushionned ride conceived for varying types of terrain. ” – Salomon
Adidas Nite Jogger sneaker
“Inspired by the 1980 Nite Jogger, these shoes shine bright with retro style and reflective details. The mesh and nylon ripstop upper is detailed with suede overlays. An updated Boost midsole adds responsive cushioning for all-day comfort.” – Adidas
New Balance 850 OG Reissue
“The 1990s revival sweeping fashion and popular culture has been going on long enough where buzzwords that defined the decade the first time around, like radical and extreme, are commonplace again. That means, the problem with these buzzwords is the same problem that existed the first time around; these descriptors are identifying the results of a cultural shift, without identifying the causes. That kind of purely surface level understanding is the first stop on a train of thought that ends up with “grunge” soda or fruit flavored children’s snacks that are, purportedly, rebellious somehow…” [Read the full post at Bodega or watch video about the kicks below]
Nike Air Fear of God 180 in Black
“Nike and frequent collaborator Fear Of God designer, Jerry Lorenzo, joined forces once again for the Air Fear Of God Raid ‘Black’ sneaker. Released in May 2019, the uniquely designed silhouette is inspired by one of Lorenzo’s favorite Nike designs, the Air Raid. Outfitted with a cross strap suede and textile upper above; below, its equipped with a double stacked Zoom Air unit in heel for a retro, yet futuristic finish.” – GOAT
Sacai x Nike LD Waffle
“The LDWaffle, especially, has been one of the hottest releases of the year, with delays adding to the hype and anticipation ahead of release. The remaining colorways come in black/white, all-white, and pink/green, and, alongside the Blazers and new apparel, have been modeled by current world tennis No. 1 Naomi Osaka and 11-year-old skate sensation Sky Brown in a new campaign.” – Highsnobeity
New Balance x Aries Arise
“Inspired by her father’s collection of vintage running sneakers, Aries‘ Sofia Prantera began to become interested with the long-lost colour combinations and distinctive technical sensibility ’90s runners opted for. Joining forces with American sportswear legends New Balance to deliver a distinctive pack of the iconic 991 model, Aries showcase their individualistic way of viewing the sneaker universe.
Made in England at New Balance’s legendary factory in Flimby, Cumbria, this set of retro runners encapsulate the old-school aesthetic the model champions. Offered up in fluro yellow and orange respectively, this iconic style has been redefined with a number of unique details. Constructed with mesh and suede panels and featuring 3M trim, Aries branding sits towards the heel counter for a boost of the London-based brand’s signature look.” – End Clothing
Overkill x adidas Consortium ZX 10,000C
“Plugging into the video games that defined a generation, adidas and Berlin-based Overkill head back to the 90s for another retro take on the ZX 10000C. Taking a trip down memory lane, the duo reunite to remember all the gaming favourites. A nod to the consoles that launched at the same time as the original ZX line, this new release adds grey, magenta and blue tones to its uppers. True to the shoe’s form, the webbed three stripes sit to the side wall, with the Torsion bar in the sole for added support. Not yet game over for this collaborative duo, branding to the heels mark this two-player release.” – End Clothing
Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 990v5
“New Balance and Aime Leon Dore unite once again on a new iteration of the New Balance 990 model. Constructed in a luxe pigskin suede, the New Balance x Aime Leon Dore 990v5 is dressed in a Forest Green and Navy Blue color scheme on top of an all White midsole infused with ENCAP Technology for elevated comfort on your strolls. Details seen include an Aime Leon Dore tab on the side panel as well as ALD branding on the back of the heel.” – Bodega