With a solid six months already in the books, it’s time for us to reflect on the retros, the Roshes and the ridiculous to see which sneakers come out on top! 2012 has been a hype lover’s dream, with the Galaxy Foamposites and Yeezy 2s causing chaos in cities across the globe, while creativity kicked back in with the FlyKnits, Hikelanders and Cole Haan LunarGrands capturing the imagination of many. Here at Sneaker Freaker, we dropped our Bunyips, Bushwhackers and Golden Balls, but modesty stopped us from listing them in our countdown. It wasn’t easy with so many amazing releases, but we’ve listed 20 of our favourites from 2012 so far. Enjoy!
1. Nike Lunar Flyknit HTM
Put Hiroshi Fujiwara, Mark Parker and Tinker Hatfield in a room together and odds are you’re going to get something pretty darn good. The flighty Flynits have to be one of the most intriguing releases of 2012, and this 1-of-100 HTM edition is easily the standout colourway. With its two-tone upper, dot matrix tongue, and vicious volt highlights, this striking silhouette feels like the future of footwear.
2.Nike Roshe Run
Is it the zen inspiration or the supple sole that makes this one so relaxing? Whatever it is, the combination of a soft footbed, ventilated mesh upper, killer colourways and agreeable price point made the Roshe Run the undisputed Rookie Of The Year.
3.Cole Haan LunarGrand Wingtip
The now-famous fusion of formal and foam was greeted with almost unanimous applause from all corners of the sneaker world, as Cole Haan sat a classic wingtip atop Nike’s lavish Lunar sole. Pure class from tip to toe.
4.Nike Galaxy Foamposites
After the Jordan XI Concord craziness created international headlines, it was the Galaxy Foamposite that proved only months later that people were still going stupid for sneakers. While people probably won’t be trading cars for Galaxies anymore, the Foam frenzy is still alive, as the once-forgotten sneaks now regularly sell out in any colourway.
5.Nike x Tom Sachs Space Program pack
Part of far-out sculptor Tom Sachs’ Space Program pack, these moon boots are one of the more curious colabs of 2012. Part of his conceptual NIKECraft project, the release uses a host of NASA materials including vectran fabric from the Mars Excursion Rover airbags. In a year where sneaker heads went crazy for Galaxys, these cosmic kicks were the real deal!
6.Afew x Asics
Hand crafted by German store Afew as part of ASICS’ annual Koi Klub series, this Japanese themed Gel-Lyte III is one of the sharpest we’ve seen. We love how the upper has been carefully trimmed and toned for a more authentic feel. A sleeker toe, stiffer heel and all-round flab-free figure make this a Gel-head’s OG dream.
7.Asics Gel Saga Bumblebee
It’s hard not to include a Ronnie Fieg in any of these best-of lists. The Gel-Lyte genius shows no sign of slowing up, with his Kith empire going from strength to strength. We’re suckers for anything yellow and black, and these Gel Saga Bumblebees stung us right between the eyes! A one-of-one sample given away as a birthday gift, you’re staring at the rarest Fiegs on the face of the earth.
8.Nike Air Yeezy 2
Will we ever see hype like this again? The indefatigable frenzy of Yeezy mania was unstoppable for months, with Kanye and Jay-Z feeding the fanboy fire every time they stepped out in the coveted sneakers. Global releases featured long queues, Egyptian warriors and big cash offers for the winners; one month later and the Yeezys will still run you around $2000 on eBay.
9.SNS x Milkcrate New Balance 577
Our homies Aaron LaCrate and the crew at Sweden’s Sneakersnstuff popped our pupils with their vibrant New Balance 577 Made in England colab. A sugary colour whirl shadowed by a smooth grey doppelganger, this has to be one of the juiciest drops of the year.
10.Adidas Hikelander Snow
With its puffer-jacket upper and unique wrap-around bungee straps, the Hikelander Snow is a winter shoe unlike any other. These newfangled foot-mittens reflect the more innovative, fashion-forward direction adidas Originals are embarking on with their ‘Blue’ line. Hot cocoa for you toes!
11.Nike Air Flow
Some of the strangest sneakers in recent memory, the duck-billed Air Flows returned in several colours for 2012, contrasting one pair in shadowy anthracite against this pair of balls-out cherry bombs. Blending shimmering blue neoprene with a pink hue and white felt, these ridiculous runners were a surprise hit.
12.Nike Air Current
Following in the far-out footsteps of the Air Flow, the curiously conspicuous Air Current contrasted an otherworldly design with simple two-tone colourways. Combining durasheen and nubuck across the upper, the sparkling sneaks dropped just last week to a rousing reception.
13.Nike Air Max 2012
2012 has been a year for all things fused, with Nike taking the hot iron to a host of classic silhouettes. None though have the impact of the Air Max 2012, with its translucent webbed upper stopping us in our tracks. The Air Max has felt a little ho-hum in recent years so it’s good to see the legendary franchise bounce back with a bold, aggressive look.
14.Poison Dart Frog Kobe VII
Amidst animal kingdom killers such as the wolf, shark, cheetah and snake, it was somehow the frog that ended up on top of the Kobe 7 food chain. With vivid red running riot across a bright blue base, we all got a fever for the amphibian flavour with this exotic release.
15.Nike Euro Air Woven
The Air Woven is one of those shoes that you never quite get used to. A quirky Japanese favourite, it went inter-continental this year in a pack dedicated to the competing nations of Euro 2012. Our pick of the bunch was this perky pink/black/blue/green number inspired by the tournament’s floral emblem.
16.Le Coq Eclat
One of the most underrated trainers going around, we’ve been long time fans of Le Coq Sportif’s Eclat jogger. The stacked heel, silky appliqués and clean midsole wall are all winners, but it’s the rich mustard suede and nylon that makes this one a must cop.
17.Air Jordan 1 KO
The timeless colour combination of white, red and black created an unstoppable three-punch combo on the Air Jordan 1 KO. Blending a tough canvas upper with jabs of rich leather, this heavy-hitting retro Jordan had ‘em all on the ropes.
Soccer nut Dennis Busenitz’s signature skate shoe has been a long time favourite of ours, and this heritage colourway might just take the cake. Featuring a suede bluebird upper and translucent sole, we especially dug the accompanying Deutschland sticker pack dedicated to Euro 2012.
19.South Beach LeBron 9s
Ditching the midwest for the sun and sand of South Beach, LeBron’s legacy has beefed up considerably with another MVP and two pairs of minty-fresh sneaks. With pops of pink peppering the carbon-fiber frame of the LeBron 9 Elite, this one ain’t getting booed anywhere.
20.Cobra Snake x Colette x Vans Era
When a club photographer, a French boutique and a simple skate silhouette came together, who knew the results would be so tasty? Stacked high with style, the Cobrasnake Vans are the most fun your feet have had in 2012.