Top 5 Pick Ups of '18
If you or anyone you know collects sneakers, then at this time of the year when everyone else is posting their ‘Best 9’ on Instagram, the lowly sneakerhead is forming a different list, one which covers their top 5 pick ups for the year. Some will do just one, others 3 and occasionally a top ten will appear.
Personally, picking one wouldn’t do the year justice, three would limit diversity and ten quite simply would indicate that I’d bought way too many and didn’t really connect enough with what I’d bought. For myself, the later would also be a sure fire sign that I’d been using consumerism to mask other issues going on in life and if I were to be true to myself 2019 would have to have a strong focus on bringing myself back, but that’s a whole different conversation and this one is about celebration of design and culture.
This year has surprised me. In years gone by, even though I and many other collectors I know consider my collection to be fairly diverse, it is usually skewed heavily towards the swoosh. Two thousand and eighteen has been a whole new story, the trefoil and three stripes have dominated my ‘lil sneaker world but not in the way they’ve dominated many others.
Grab your cuppa, sit down and let’s take a spin through my Top Five of Two Thousand and Eighteen
5: Consortium x Livestock Ultra Tech GORE-TEX
2018 has seen a vast shift in how I live my life. I’ve embarked upon a new career and one which has enabled me to be spending much more time in the mountains. Even though I’m still driving into many locations I’m then getting out of the car and travelling further on foot. It would be easy to just get one pair of ‘walking shoes’ and stick to that, because who’s gonna see them out there? But then I’m reminded that I am a snekerhead to the core and this simply wouldn’t do.
In this realm, Adidas have ruled this year. I discovered Adidas Outdoors and the Terrex. I also discovered GoreTEX in shoes, which for the first time ever has actually proved to create an honestly waterproof shoe. Even in a low top, as I find myself walking into lakes and rivers there is just enough height to them to allow me to easily get to places to get that shot, without getting wet feet.
My first pair of Norse Project Consortium Terrex perform amazingly but, alas, I think they look kinda goofy. As I found myself in Auckland a few weeks ago to be a judge for the Mental Health Foundation Creative Media Grants, I was able to see these in the flesh at Loaded. One of their super sales had discounted them massively by 60% which is just what I love. Even though I was trying so hard not to cop, these were a must and I am so glad I pulled that trigger.
I saved them for our first AuthenticAs Tour on Christmas Eve and not only did they perform perfectly, they also won the praise of out clients. Perfect.
The consortium series is also one which I applaud. Collabs have been big recently, however from what I’ve seen, they have been done with InstaSuperStars, building on hype more than function. The Consortium range connects Adidas with the smaller boutique streetwear labels and shops, the ones that actually care about people like me for more than just my money. the designs deliver and the quality and performance is usually on point.
4: Adidas Futurepacer
In 1984 I was ten. By then I was fully addicted to computer games and my passion for Hip Hop and sneakers was starting to match that of riding my BMX.
When the Adidas Micro Pacer dropped, I dropped my shit. Back to the Future was still one year away, yet this was the kind of tech that I would have expected to be debuted in that movie a decade or so in the future, an on board computer that counted your steps. Holy shit balls, how was that even possible?
Needless to say, they were never mine. If truth be told there was something about them that didn't sit 100% with me, but still, the memories and awe are still alive. The Star Wars pack brought with them an edition of the Pacers, but I was more interested in the At-At's.
Wind forward almost a decade or so and I saw the FuturePacer drop. This has been a slim year for me and copping, so I've been waiting patiently for the price to drop. I've had these in a few tabs open for many moons refreshing every couple of days or so, hoping the price would drop. Sure enough, just before Christmas, Loaded delivered the goods, just in time for me to be able to justify a cop. I mean, there's been a fresh pair of kicks, from me, to me, under the Chrissy tree for donkeys.
These obviously aren't everyones cup of tea, but for me and my world, they are rocking it hard. A great mix of old and new. The feel of them is insane. My brief trip down to next doors photogenic driveway confirmed that.
I was fearful of the hell toe box crease so stepped very carefully, yet it would appear my fears were unfounded. There's a slight crease coming around the heel, but that seems to be the way these days with this design from the 3 stripes.
I'm yet to fully test out the 3M capabilities of this upper, but dang they look like they'll light up the whole town under some bright lights. The lace cover could be a tad wider for my fat feet, but I can't see that from above so it doesn't really matter.
All in all, if you're fond of a future tech Dad shoe, get onto these before they're all gone.
3: Nike AirMAX 90/1
I love hybrids. Many don’t, in fact most sneaker head appear to despise them. I also love the AirMAX 90, it’s by far the silhouette which features the most in my collection and for some reason it ticks all of my boxes for most of the releases.
The AirMAX one is still a favourite but it doesn’t have the appeal to me and I think that was mostly because of the sole. It’s quite simply not as sleek as the 90. So here we go, the AM1 upper and the AM90 sole fused together, originally this was first done way back in 1992 as the first ever AirMAX hybrid and it flopped hard out.
Wind forward to 2018, and many of my old schools sneakerhead mates were getting super excited about this drop. Myself included. The rest of the world however decided once again that this was going to flop hard out. I don’t get it. But that doesn’t matter because it meant that these were easily available for me to pick up for my 44th Birthday Shoe and I absolutely adore them.
I’m a sucker for red and white shoes. I’m a sucker for high quality buttery leather. These do both of those extremely well. the uppers remind me of the Escape Pack from back in ‘14, a shoe which I beat into the ground and is still one of my firm favourite when shooting a wedding.
These are still sitting on the sale racks, if you’re after a pair it’s an easy cop and you won’t be disappointed.
2: Nike Air Jordan 3 Black Cement
For many, this is their shoe of the year and I can see why. It is quite simply beautiful. The first ever Nike Air Jordan to be designed by the legendary Tinker Hatfiled, originally released in 1998 and you could say is the reason Michale Jordan stayed with Nike. Jordan Brand is one of the major players in the sneaker industry, from a business and cultural perspective, without this shoe, that quite simply may not have happened.
I was late to the Jordan party, not being a basketball player, or fan, I felt like there was some kind of cultural appropriation going on which I wanted no part of. Eventually I came to realise that as a true sneakerhead, it was ok for me to align with them from a design perspective and the Tinker designs are the ones that have mostly ended up in my collection. I’m the first to admit that I’m way more Tinker than Michael.
I thought these were going to be super hard to cop. I started release day not even wanting to try. By the end of the day having seen so many of my mates frothing over them, I knew I had to give it a crack. I managed to secure a pair from a UK store and the wait began.
This is now where the real twist comes in. After receiving an email from customs I was a little perplexed as to why only to discover that even though I’d bought and paid for only one pair, two had in fact been sent. Once the ransom demand was cleared, both pairs landed on the doormat and it’s not often that I double up, this is only my second double, but I’m damned glad I have.
Without a doubt these have been the beater of the year for me. They sit alongside the AirMAX Zero ass being one of the best sneakers in my collection. They do wet and dry weather really well. Not so flash at wet rocks or slippy grass, but with care it’s ok. With all this in mind, they’re still not on the top spot.
1: Adidas Y-3 Kusari
I love Y-3. the brand is an extremely long lasting collaboration between Adidas and Japanese streetwear designer Yohji Yamamoto born in 2002. The "Y" stands for Yohji Yamamoto, the "3" represents Adidas' three signature stripes and the "-" signifies the link between the two.
As I’m sure you can tell from the previous shoes in this Top 5, I love collaborations and mash ups. I also love high quality products that have actually been designed and constructed in a way that shows the designer and manufacturer really care about the end product. Y-3 delivers the goods every time. The shoes are the highest quality packaged and presented in THE most beautiful way.
The price tag is usually fairly high, so they sit and if you’re patient you can cop them at a fantastic price. This pair however was copped on release day.
We were in New York at the beginning of the year. I love to pick up a shoe from places I visit, it helps me form memories, they’re souvenirs for me. I knew that these were dropping, I’d seen the photos and I was pretty sure that I was going to love them, although I really wanted to see them in hand and also on foot.
The Y-3 store in Soho, New York was something else. Welcoming but exclusive. There was that hard to fake vibe about the place, it wasn’t built on hype, it was built upon a solid foundation of great design and production. The staff were beyond friendly and incredibly kind. None of this hierarchial BS often found in the higher end designer stores.
Needless to say these ended up in my collection. The first pair sold in New York and I absolutely adore them. They are like walking on clouds and the red is just perfect. The materials are buttery smooth and stitched to perfection. Not hyped at all but neck snappers none the less.
They see the sun way less than any others on this list, but that’s sometimes what makes a sneaker really special, they come out for really special occasions only. I love sneakers with stories and the story and memories behind this one easily make it my sneaker of the year.
A cautionary note
So many people do not understand my love of sneakers. To be honest, I don’t really understand it myself. What I know is that it’s been such a long love affair, that I know it’s a true part of me. The sneaker culture has helped and supported me in ways that words cannot describe, however, I’ve also noticed a downside.
We so often these days use consumerism to mask other issues going on in our lives. It’s a quick fix to solve a deep problem. Buy this now feel great. Obtain this shoe which others don’t have so you can get more like, increase your followers and be that person who has those. In small doses, this is really rad.
If it’s happening all of the time, if most of your money goes on sneakers, if you feel the need to increase those like and followers, maybe it’s time for you to start asking some different questions about what you actually need.
I’ve copped less sneakers this year than I have in many years, and I have had one of the most amazing years of my life. The sneakers I’ve bought, I’ve bought because of a real connection with them rather than just an item to give me a quick pleasure fix. I wear them and I’ve started going through the stacks pulling out those sneakers that I bought when I was in a really bad place was using consumerism to get me through.
This year has really highlighted the downs I went through and how sneakers were used by me to mask the larger issues. Not every sneakerhead does this, but many more than would like to admit to themselves do. A new year is about to be upon us. It’s a great time to set new goals and reassess what’s going on in our lives. If this cautionary note resonates with you only slightly then I urge you to follow up on this. Getting help can be hard at first but it’s so worth it. More importantly, you’re worth it.
If you feel you need to find a liferaft of your own, try finding activities that allow you to experience these five things.
If you feel like you just can’t anymore, click here, find the helpline for your country, pick up the phone and make the call. Life is here to be enjoyed, it’s not always going to be rosy but it doesn’t have to be living hell every god damn day.