As far as footwear goes, 2012 will be remembered as a transition point. Classic minimalism finally loosened its grip just enough to allow sport back into the frame, setting the scene for a very interesting ideological battle in 2013. Aside from the Yeezy and Galaxy Foamposites, the hits were there, but they were generally milder than previous years, compounded by production problems with at least five high profile colabs in the back half of the year. After an encouraging start, it meant 2012 would finish on a somewhat quiet note…
Most brands had something to cheer about. Vans chugged along, selling shoes by the truckload and introducing their new LXVI lightweight range. Reebok also found an area they could own. After dabbling in 2.0 versions of retro models that were universally shunned, reaching into their legit 90s basketball archive was a timely move. The return of the Shaqs will draw the most hype, but next year’s expansive Classic Leather campaign looks like the solid foundation they’ve been waiting for.
Adidas reinvented Consortium and brought the Tech Super runners to the table which was well received. Partnering with BAPE and UNDFTD brought back good memories for the Trefoil but whether anyone still rates BAPE remains to be seen – this was one of the releases that has been delayed indefinitely. Kazuki also wound down his brilliant ObyO line, then announced he was bouncing back with adidas, which augurs well for the future. But you have to hand it to Jeremy Scott, this was the year his madcap adidas antics went overground. The Poodles with sunglasses set a new benchmark in pure silliness but it was the Wings 2.0 that seemed to fly off shelves.
Meanwhile, Nike was Nike. Roshe Run surprised everybody with its budget stance crossing over to the hip crowd. Lunar and Free didn’t just dominate the performance landscape, they smashed all-comers. Flyknit was the big innovation story and the year ended on a surprising note, as Lunar was injected into the Air Force 1. Their basketball program with Kobe and LeBron remains an unstoppable juggernaut and I couldn’t help but think Air Max was being kept on the DL. A tiny spark would ignite the franchise.
On a personal note, Sneaker Freaker had a golden run this year. We produced the original crepe-soled ‘Bunyips’ for PUMA, the ‘Bushwhackers’ for Saucony and dropped a juicy pair of Supras. If our ‘Tassie Devil’ New Balance 998s had arrived on time, it would have been the cherry on top of a big year.
Over in NYC, Ronnie Fieg continued to build momentum from his Kith store. You have to hand it to him, Ronnie is a prolific originator and he has the score on the board, especially with ASICS. His ‘Mazarine’ Gel Sagas were the pick for me, though his New Balance 1300s and 999s were also home runs. Nearby in Jersey, Mike Packer wasn’t far behind, flossing heat with adidas, Reebok and Saucony. Solebox in Berlin also had a notable year for colabs.
That’s enough name-checking. If I mention everybody we’ll run out of room before we even get started. So let’s hear from our friends and industry insiders as they reveal their favourite shoes of 2012.
Keep your laces loose!
SNKR FRKR ED.