There are lists everywhere right now. End of the year is a perfect time to bang them out to keep that content moving. I wrote a quick one for my friends at Sole Collector before realising that I’d omitted loads of good things (in fact, I’ve picked up shoes in the days following the list submission that deserved some placement). If you’re looking to write a top ten of the year’s best with any modicum of integrity, I recommend leaving it until the year has fully concluded and taking some time to collate it. In this case, I did none of those things. With the freedom of a top 20, this would have been a bit more varied in terms of brands and silhouettes. As it stands, it simply highlights how dull and middle-aged I am when it comes to sports footwear. For the most part, I still don’t understand the need to put reissues of reissues of classics on a pedestal. It’s a given that a black and red Air Jordan 1 is amazing, but it belongs on a top ten of 1985 list (maybe the mid 1990s at a push because retro basketball still seemed quite novel), except there weren’t “best shoes of…” lists back then because they were too busy keeping it moving rather than wallowing.

One thought on “LIST

  1. As ever, enjoyed reading your list, Gary. I have to say, I felt my interest in trainer buying wane this year. I still wholeheartedly love trainers (I’m as enthusiastic as ever to pore over the type of minutia you write about and link to), but there was little on shelves in 2016 to make me feel excited about the ludicrously named ‘culture’ or ‘game’.

    It’s hardly a new observation, but Jordan Brand’s ‘remastering’ of its price-hiked retros can now officially be dubbed a sham (complete with arbitrary aesthetic tweaks that made a mockery of the ‘back to the original’ concept, the True Blue 3 and Space Jam 11 disappointed, even in comparison to previous retros), and Nike remained committed to running every popular silhouette into the ground in a slew of silly colourways and multi-shoe crossbreeding. Nike wasn’t the only party guilty of rinsing its classics – Please, Asics, calm down on the Gel Lyte IIIs in 2017.

    Some of Nike’s performance basketball stuff looked great (and I’m sure performed great too – my hardwood glory years are behind me), but with colourways that made it more appealing as an ornament than something wearable.

    Fair play to Adidas for deservedly seizing control of the jeggings and smock crowd and, to be fair, puncturing the uninspired retro market with some good designs and comfortable technology, but how long before that bubble bursts, too?

    One highlight for me (and one that, admittedly, betrays my Grumpy Old Man / 90s Nostalgist footwear leanings: the Nike Air Tech Challenge IV in black, white and dark grape. A really great retro of a shoe that, circa 91-92, I remember seemed as outrageous as footwear got. Getting my feet in these really put some warmth into my hardened heart. As, to be fair, did the realisation, that my days of rabid footwear consumption might be behind me. Despite my moaning, there’s something to be said for not constantly wanting to open your wallet for the latest shoddy Jordan retro. I look forward to making sparing, but hopefully exciting, purchases in the new year whilst using the extra time to scour the internet for old Nike commercials and catalogue scans.

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