My Top Ten Sneakers of 2013

Well, it’s that time of the year again. The end of one year and the anticipation of starting another one. The time where we take a look back at the year that is soon to past and reflect on all that has happened. While there was many personal things I went through this year and many goals I have in mind for this upcoming year, I’m going to keep this light and simply share my Top Ten favorite sneakers that came out in 2013.

While there were quite a few sneakers that released this year that could easily be in the Top Ten of anyone’s lists, I decided to limit it to sneakers I actually personally picked up. Not only that, I decided to keep my list to sneakers that made it to the end of the year. In other words, sneakers that are still currently in my closet and weren’t sold or traded for something else. So with that, let the countdown begin.

No. 10: Air Jordan IV Retro “Toro”

If you don’t already know, the Jordan IV is not only my favorite Jordan model but also the sneaker that first started my love affair with sneakers back in 1989. Although this is not an original colorway and I am not the biggest fan of majority red sneakers, I thought this was actually a nice retro. I’ve been pretty disappointed with recent Jordan retro’s as far as materials go, but I was actually quite impressed with these. The nubuck was a lot nicer than I thought it would be. Plus the sneaker has more of a sentimental value for me now since my brother picked it up for me while he was in New York for vacation. It’s not often that my brother picks up sneakers for me but he came through for me when I struck out over here and online. I actually took them to Footage to consign and sell them but ended up taking them back thinking of the effort my brother did to pick these up for me. I don’t think I could ever sell them now. Thanks brother for the assist!

No. 9: Saucony x Bait Shadow Original “Cruel World”

The good folks at Bait have been only opened for a little over a year but they have made great strides within this year in the field of “sneaker collaborations”. This Shadow Original, dubbed “Cruel World”, is a Vegan friendly sneaker that was built “devoid of animal-based products and by-products” and was Bait’s second go-around with Saucony. Although I am not a Vegan myself, I found the use of vegan friendly materials quite interesting and it actually came out really nice. The shape isn’t the greatest but it’s not bad either. Not only was this a sneaker that was built to benefit animals, but Bait donated a portion of all sales from these sneakers to benefit A Placed Called Home, a South Central based youth center. Bait was able to raise $15,628 for the youth center. If there’s anything I love more than a beautiful pair of sneakers, is a beautiful pair of sneakers with a good cause behind them.

No. 8: Nike Kobe 8 “Easter”

The Kobe 8 Easter is the only pair I own from the Kobe 8 line. Not that I don’t like the shoe itself, but I just don’t wear basketball shoes casually often and I don’t play basketball in Kobe’s either. I couldn’t pass up this colorway though. In my opinion, it best represents “Easter” from the Easter pack. The shoe is actually quite comfortable as well with the use of Lunarlon. It’s no wonder the Kobe 8 was a favorite of many this year.

No. 7: Nike Flykknit Racer “Multicolor”

While many older sneaker enthusiasts complain that Nike has fallen short with their retro’s, if there’s one thing Nike continues to excel in, it’s in their technology and innovation. It’s really hard to touch Nike when it comes to testing the limits of what a sneaker is and can do. The “Flyknit” technology is one of them. With the Flyknit technology, “yarns and fabric variations are precisely engineered only where they are needed for a featherweight, formfitting and virtually seamless upper” making the shoe not only extremely light, but also extremely forming fitting, like a “second skin”. The “Multicolor” variation of the Flyknit Racer, Lunar, and Trainer are some of my favorite from the Flyknit line. While I like the Lunar version more in regards to fit and comfort, the use of the multicolor yarn and fabric in the Racer version is amazing and thus my favorite as far as looks goes.

No. 6: Nike x Mita Air Max 95 “Prototype”

The Neon Nike Air Max 95 has to be one of the most retro’d Air Max model/colorway (along with the Infrared Air Max 90) of all time. However, 2013 brought in a little twist to the iconic colorway, thanks to Japanese sneaker boutique, “Mita”. Based on an unreleased sample of the original Neon Air Max 95, this version known as “Prototype” saw a few things changed from the original such as replacing the white laces, inner lining and neoprene tongue with black, a special insole which pays homage to the original Air Max 95 boxes, and adding Mita’s “Ueno” logo embroidered on the inner lining. Although I might not be the biggest Air Max 95 fan, the Neon model does hold a special place in my heart. The black tongue, inner liner and laces definitely makes for a nice touch which is why I had to own a pair.

No. 5: Nike x Atmos Air Max 90 “Tiger Camo”

I’m still confused whether or not this was an actual collaboration with Japanese sneaker boutique, Atmos, that ended up seeing a US release or this was just a “Premium” model that was always intended for a world release and Atmos just happened to be the first to announce and release it. Either way I’m happy that I did not pay the resell price that these were garnering during the first release from Atmos in which everyone thought only they would have them. Although I still paid a little over retail, it was way better than the $300-400 people were asking at first. I passed on the Atmos Tiger Camo Air Max 1 that released earlier in the year (which I lowkey regret now) but I couldn’t pass up on these, especially after I heard they were hitting our shores. The Air Max 90 is my favorite Air Max of all time and this was a very nice rendition of it. The tiger print is really nice and it being 3M with the glow in the dark midsole is a nice touch as well. The leather used in this model is also a lot better the leather Nike as been using recently. Definitely one of the better AM90 retro’s as of late.

No. 4: New Balance x Norse Projects 1500 “Danish Weather Pack”

Okay, so I’m cheating a little bit by adding both colorways of this pack. I couldn’t chose one from the other. The 1500 is my favorite model from New Balance and you can never go wrong with a primarily Gray colored NB and if you know me, I love brown-ish colored sneakers(probably from my Timberland boots wearing days). I know there was a lot of complaint regarding the size of the “N” logo and the shape but I actually don’t think they’re that bad. Definitely not as good as Hanon’s “Chosen Few” 1500 released last year.

No. 3: New Balance x CNCPTS 998 “C-Notes”

The 998 is not one of my favorite New Balance models but the lush suede material and colors used definitely makes up for it, in my opinion of course. Plus you can never go wrong with a “Made in USA” New Balance. While I see the “concept” (pun intended) behind the design, for me, it reminds me of the Escape II pack Nike had from the early 2000s which is one my favorite colorways of all time. I wore these for the first time a couple of days and I must say that on feet, the reflective 3M panels definitely catches your eye and is a nice touch. My only gripe about this shoe is the “yellowed” midsole. I’ve actually contemplated painting it. While I know they were not going for the “vintage look”, I feel they could have gone with a white midsole and still executed the concept.

No. 2: Onitsuka Tiger x Hanon Colorado Eighty-Five “Northern Liites”

Back when I picked these up in September (thanks to a friend for lining up for me) I never thought this would be my No. 2 pick from 2013. There’s not really one thing alone that calls out as the 2nd best sneaker I picked up in 2013 (it was actually in a good fight for No. 1). Overall, it’s just an awesome looking sneaker. The materials used are top notch with words such as “lush” and “buttery” coming to mind to describe suede used. I love how the purple and red pop rather nicely and Hanon branding is a nice detail without being too much. My favorite part though is the use of two different colors for the “Tiger Stripe” logo between the medial and lateral sides. Whether it be in pictures or on feet, they just look good and photograph well. Definitely one of my favorites from 2013.

No. 1: Asics x Bait Gel Saga “Phantom Lagoons”

And at the No.1 spot, we have another collaboration from Bait, the “Phantom Lagoons” Gel Saga. I don’t remember what i was looking for when I was on the Bait blog and first saw the picture of these. Call it corny, but it was like “love at first sight”. What caught me off guard was I had not seen or read any other blogs/websites talking about it. I honestly thought I had already missed the release or perhaps it was just a sample. But after paying Bait a visit, I had learned it was still set to release and sure enough, a few days later, the hype for these just sky rocketed. I honestly think this shoe really put Bait on the map. Just like the Hanon’s Northern Liites, I love the use of two different colors for the “Tiger Stripe” logo on the medial and lateral sides of the shoe. Purple and teal is always a good combination for me so I love the mix of teal and subtle use of purple in this sneaker. The perforated nubuck looks great, especially on the toe box and makes for nice attention to detail. The fact that midsole is more than one color (something not common with Gel-Sagas) is a nice detail as well. Of course I love gum soles as well(even though this is more of a tan color than a gum sole). My only gripe (as well as many others as I have read) is that the colors isn’t as “vibrant” as shown in the original press release pictures. Even the picture I took is probably not the greatest representation of the actual colors of this release. Compared to the Northern Liites, the colorway of the Phantom Lagoons is a lot more dull. Perhaps why it could have easily been No. 2 on my list rather than No. 1. We’ll see how if my feelings remain the same after the first wear out with them. Still a great shoe though and I have to give my props to the folks at Bait. Look forward to seeing what they have in store for 2014.

Well, there you have it, my Top Ten Sneakers from 2013. Although I’m hoping to curb my sneaker purchases in 2014, I’m still looking forward to seeing what comes out this upcoming year. With the all the rumors/previews of what is set to release in 2014, it looks like it’s going to be another interesting year. We’ll see what sneakers make my list (if any) next year. For now, Happy New Year!!

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