Just like death and taxes in the real world, there are two certainties in the sneaker world: Nike and adidas. Undoubtably, those two brands had another interesting year in 2018. But if you put the Swoosh and Team Trefoil to one side, you’ll notice plenty of other brands that were worth celebrating. Converse were huge, trail-ready runners became a staple, and smaller imprints like Rombaut and Eytys produced their fair share of fire.
As the curtain begins to close on this year, we’ve taken a look at some of the more underrated and unexpected hits that are yet to come, from brands that have played the foundations in 2018 to put them all in a great position to take things to the next level in 2019.
Here are the brands to look out for in 2019.
We all know that the Chuck is a timeless silhouette, and the iconic design was as popular as ever in 2018. Everyone from Virgil Abloh, Tyler, The Creator, and Brain Dead to JW Anderson, Undercover, and the man of the moment himself, Fear of God head honcho Jerry Lorenzo, have put their spin on the legendary Chuck over the past 12 months. Not to mention the brand’s own in-house executions and tried-and-true colourways. Led by the Chuck 70, Converse had an incredible 2018, arguably supplanting Vans as the casual go-to. Will they continue to reign in 2019? We think so.
The Swoosh’s beloved outdoors-centric ACG imprint was back with a bang this year, resurrecting old standouts and introducing brand new heritage-inspired silhouettes. The Air Revaderchi and Okwahn II made their welcome and long-awaited comeback, while the Dog Mountain and Ruckel Ridge injected retro flair into brand new offerings. Nike are continuing the push in 2019 by bringing back some more ACG classics while doling out even more modern nods to the line’s storied archive.
While kicks like the GEL-Lyte III and GEL-Lyte V will seemingly always be ‘in’, it’s been nice to still see ASICS take things in a different direction from their reliable ol’ standbys. If you were looking for retro dad-style runners, ASICS had you covered with the return of the GEL-Kayano 5. If you needed something a little more contemporary, the brand can thank their ongoing colabs with Kiko Kostadinov. ASICS even channeled Kiko’s technicality on their own, heavily modifying the aforementioned GEL-Lyte V with a mid-top, Gore-Tex-assisted remix. We’ll be watching with interest to see how ASICS continue the juggle between tradition and innovation into 2019. Keep your eyes peeled!
Like ASICS with Kiko Kostadinov, Salomon have done well to partner up with German-Persian Designer Boris Bidjan Saberi. He’s brought an experimental, high-fashion edge to the French imprint’s technical runners. That avant-garde sensibility has found its way into Salomon’s own offerings, while their continuing collaborative endeavour with fellow countrymen THE BROKEN ARM has led to a sleek, contemporary, trail-ready alternative to Nike ACG’s retro vibes. Technical runners are all the rage right now, and that trend will continue into the early months of next year.
Eytys definitely aren’t new to the game, but the Stockholm-based brand has made some serious ground on the competition in recent months by capitalising on the dad-style retro trend with its own exaggerated takes on the chunky silhouettes of old.
A quick scroll through your Instagram feed is likely to turn up tons of street-style pics of in-the-know fashionistas rocking the Swedish silhouettes. With this kind of momentum, don’t expect their current run to come to a halt in 2019. They’re about to embark on a marathon they are are set to do well in.
Rombaut have also become a bit of a social media favourite over the past few months.
Mats Rombaut’s namesake imprint is known for its slightly out-there alternatives to the more traditional dad-style retro drops, perfectly channeling chunky, old school designs into something distinctly new as he culls inspiration from his time at Lanvin and Damir Doma. And the best part? Rombaut’s releases are vegan and eco-friendly, helping them to become a Bella Hadid favourite. As seen with Nike’s Flyleather and adi’s Parley colabs, the vegan and eco-friendly trend is really heating up at the moment. Rombaut’s got it right.
Wallabees will always be in style, as evidenced by the brand’s collaborations with Supreme over the years. But the classic Clarks silhouette seemed to be especially big in 2018 thanks to collaborations alongside the likes of Wu-Tang, END., and Drake’s OVO.
Look for Clarks to continue their streetwear-ready onslaught in 2019 with more offerings that throw things back to the early 00s, as sneakerheads continue to gravitate toward the silhouettes of old.