From dad shoes to translucent kicks, from Chuck 70s to Air Max retros, certain styles were everywhere this year.
As 2018 comes to a close, we’re taking a look back at the trends that dominated the past 12 months. We’ll also take a look at the styles, designers and brands that ‘won’ the year.
Just about every brand under the sun took things back to the 90s this year as chunky retro-inspired dad shoes were on the feet of sneakerheads the world over. Whether it was Nike’s M2K Tekno, the PUMA Thunder, Reebok’s Daytona DMX, ASICS’s resurrected GEL-Kayano 5, or even the Yeezy BOOST 700, dad shoes were perhaps the footwear trend of 2018. And the aesthetic didn’t go unnoticed by high fashion — just ask Balenciaga.
Likely inspired by Virgil Abloh’s collaborative ‘The Ten’ with the Swoosh, translucent uppers made their way to some of the most popular styles of 2018, including the shoe of the year: Nike’s React Element 87. Expect the look to continue to be on-trend in 2019, with more 87s and the Jumpman’s ‘Flight Utility’ aesthetic on the way to your feet.
Air Max Retros
Iconic Air Max silhouettes will never go out of style, thanks to the usual suspects like the Air Max 1 and Air Max 90 being forever popular with sneakerheads. 2018 was particularly big, however, for a number of other Air Max instalments. From the 95, 97 and 98, to the Plus and Deluxe, old school Air Maxes were undoubtedly alive and well in 2018.
Converse Chuck 70s
Converse and Vans have always competed for the crown of the casual go-to. In 2018, Converse came out on top as the big winner. The classic Chuck was the catalyst, of course, as everyone from Virgil Abloh and Tyler, The Creator to Brain Dead and J.W. Anderson put their spins on the beloved All Star.
While many thought that SB’s best years were in the past, 2018 was huge for the Swoosh’s skate-ready imprint. The Dunk was back in a big way, as evidenced by the likes of Diamond’s new ‘Tiffany’ colabs. Other styles got their shine, too, like NBA-inspired Bruins and Stussy’s high- and low-top Blazers.
Thanks in large part to adidas’s relationships with the likes of Alexander Wang, Raf Simons, Rick Owens, and Yohji Yamamoto, designer collaborations have been a ‘thing’ for years. However, they seemed to reach new heights in 2018, as adi’s co-branded endeavours were alive and well, while Jerry Lorenzo’s Fear of God, Samuel Ross’s A-COLD-WALL*, and Comme des Garçons joined forces with the Swoosh, which also continued its drops with Off-White/Louis Vuitton head honcho Virgil Abloh. Kiko Kostadinov and Pyer Moss got in on the action too, linking up with ASICS and Reebok, respectively. Expect even more in 2019 as Craig Green, AMBUSH, and ALYX have Nike collaborations on tap for the months ahead.
Salomon made waves this past year as the French imprint’s trail runners were adopted on a larger scale thanks to wider acceptance of tech-centric footwear styles. It wasn’t all modern on the trail, though, as retro-inspired off-road aesthetics were back in a big way thanks to a resurrection of the ACG styles of old.
Logos got out of control over the past 12 months, as brands went all-in on the branding front. Nike covered Air Max retros in Swooshes while retailers like atmos brought branding overload to the adidas NMD. Even the humble Chuck showcased Gore-Tex branding front and centre as the timeless high-top adopted the water-repellant membrane.
Futurecraft was unleashed on the masses in 2018 as adidas brought its 3D-printed 4D cushioning to sneakerheads across the globe with a wider rollout of the contemporary tech. The printed latticework midsoles hit a variety of different silhouettes and may prove to be a sign of things to come for the Three Stripes, as it potentially looks for a cushioning evolution beyond BOOST in the coming years.
Hybrids are nothing new, but this year saw more than ever. Long a go-to design element for Nike, Swoosh-branded hybrids were a dime a dozen, especially when it came to Air Max mashups or old school uppers coupled with VaporMax sole units. The folks in Herzo weren’t immune to the idea either, adding both BOOST and 4D midsoles to a variety of different silhouettes.
Utilitarian makeovers made major waves in 2018 in the form of trail-ready Air Max 270s and rugged mid-top VaporMaxes. ASICS, on the other hand, transformed the GEL-Lyte V into a Gore-Tex-equipped boot, while the Chuck 70 also adopted the tech. Japan’s nanamica even brought the water-shedding laminate to their New Balance collaborations, while the Jumpman turned a couple of Jordan icons into winter-ready boots. The best illustrations of the utilitarian makeover, though? Nike’s Fidlock-equipped Air Force 1 Utility and the Air Jordan 33’s ‘Flight Utility’ ethos.