A ranking of the 25 best sneakers from 2014 from Nike, Adidas, New Balance, and Vans.
Picking the best sneakers of the year isn’t an easy task. Picking the best sneakers releasing on any given weekend is daunting enough. But I am an intrepid reporter who gets paid the big bucks (kidding), so I weeded through the archives to find the 25 best kicks of 2014. These aren’t the most hyped (you won’t find Diamond Dunks or Supreme Foamposites here). Rather they’re the ones I most want to wear regardless of their resale value or their ability to garner likes on Instagram. Let the Internet backlash begin.
Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star Paranoid
At best, most sneakers inspire an approving head nod. Maybe a Birdman hand rub. These Black Sabbath Chucks with album artwork from Paranoid make you want to throw your metal horns up and bang your head. That’s saying something.
Fila Original Tennis “Cream”
The Fila Original Tennis was a popular drug dealer shoe in the 80s and it still looks dope in the streets even if all you’re just slanging is single-origin artisanal espresso beans. This cream colorway is especially great, both because of its muted hue and its ties to the Wu-Tang acronym for “Cash Rules Everything Around Me.”
Star Wars x Vans Authentic
How can you not be a fan of a print called “Yoda Aloha”? Even Triumph the Insult Comic Dog couldn’t clown on you for wearing these.
Keith Haring x Reebok Insta Pump Fury
The Insta Pump Fury saw a lot of collaborators lend their take on it this year. My favorite is this version using artist Keith Haring’s famous “Crack is Wack” mural. The frenetic style of Haring’s illustrations worked well with the visual tech on the shoe.
Reebok Question Mid “Banner”
To celebrate Allen Iverson having his jersey retired by the Philadelphia 76ers, the sneaker brand that A.I. stuck with through his entire NBA career released this limited edition version of his signature shoe, which featured jersey mesh on the upper.
Adidas Stan Smith Primeknit
Another shoe that saw everyone collaborate on it this year was the classic Stan Smith. But one of the best versions came from Adidas itself. Utilizing its Primeknit technology on a silhouette as simple as the Stan Smith blended the past and the future in an elegant way.
Nike Flyknit Trainer Chukka FSB
As pure as the driven snow (at least for the first few minutes after you put them on your feet), these Flyknit Chukka FSBs took white-on-white kicks to a whole new level. The Flyknit upper used synthetic wool so the sneakers kept your tootsies toasty.
Adidas Originals Tubular Runner “New Year’s Eve”
Adidas has a hit on their hand with the Tubular Runner. The shoe has a highly futuristic design but is still highly wearable (i.e. people will stare at them for the “right” reasons). This “New Year’s Eve” colorway has the right amount of flash, without being too obnoxious.
Alife x Reebok Court Victory Pump
It’s hard to believe it’s been eight years since Alife first released this tennis shoe, originally made famous by Michael Chang, using a tennis ball’s felt for the upper. Thankfully a retro edition was released at the end of the year. Like the original, it’s loud, it’s furry, and it’s awesome.
Nike Kobe 9 Elite Low
Modeled after a boxer’s boot, the high top version of the Kobe 9 was almost too high. As soon as it was released people started clamoring for the low-top version and it did not disappoint. With a Flyknit upper, this shoe looked as good on court as it did off.
Hender Scheme MIP-10
We imagine Japanese brand Hender Scheme decided to call this shoe the MIP-10 to avoid any lawsuit from Nike since these are blatantly a version of the Air Jordan 4. What sets these apart, however, is that they are made entirely out of premium leather. Everything from the sole to the laces to the lining is luxurious animal hides.
Ronnie Fieg x Puma Disc Blaze “Coat Of Arms”
By keeping the majority of the shoe black, you almost don’t notice all the technology that’s going on with this shoe. Also, the way it allows the color on the toe box to pop is so good.
Nike Roshe LD 1000
Taking the upper and colorway from the vintage LD 1000 running shoe and placing it atop the outsole from the popular Roshe Run yielded a sneaker that is sure to be a new classic.
Vans x Huichol Tribe SK8-Hi LX
The intricate beading of the Huichol tribe in Mexico was used on the sidestripe of the famous SK8-Hi. The work was all done by hand and the detail is amazing.
Air Jordan 1 KO Rival Pack
Sneakers are best when they tell a story, and this two-sneaker pack paid homage to college basketball powerhouses North Carolina and Georgetown, who famously squared off in the 1982 NCAA national championship game where Michael Jordan made the game-winning shot in the final seconds. It’s probably sacrilege to say, but I like the canvas upper on the AJ1 KO better than the traditional leather.
Air Jordan Future
Another future classic (pardon the pun), the Future is one of those shoes that by maintaining a simple design opens itself up to endless interpretations. I am partial to the woven versions.
Nike Air Tech Challenge 2 “French Open”
After re-signing Andre Agassi and thus setting everything right in the world of tennis sneakers, Nike brought back a ton of Air Tech Challenge 2s in 2014, including an edition for each of the Grand Slams. This black and orange version for the French Open was the best of the bunch, with tons of details that Agassi and sneaker fans could geek out over.
Adidas Pure Boost
The technology in Adidas’s Boost foam makes it feel like you’ve got springy memory foam mattresses on your feet. Add to that an upper with a minimal, monochromatic upper and you’ve got a shoe with staying power.
Adidas Originals Samba Super Battle Pack
With 2014 being a World Cup year, there was a big focus on soccer footwear, particularly cleats. The Sambas in the Battle Pack, which was inspired by war paint, flew under the radar amidst all of that, but anyone who picked up a pair is thankful.
Supreme x Nike Air Force 1 High
The Air Force 1 High doesn’t get as much love from sneakerheads as the Lows. That changed when Supreme decided to collaborate on a pair. Even when you put all the hypebeast thirst aside, these shoes stood out. The “World Famous” on the ankle strap, the “Supreme” embossed on the heel, and the premium leather all worked to make this special.
Nike Air Python Lux
The Air Jordan 2 is one of my all-time favorites, so to see a shoe take inspiration from the AJ2 and then add to it with features like a snakeskin pattern and a leather lining is something wonderful to behold.
Concepts x New Balance 997 “Rosé”
I can imagine a rich old white guy wearing these at the country club just as easily as I can the most #influential hypebeast. That’s the mark of a good shoe.
Nike Roshe Run NM New York City Pack
I am a big fan of polka dots on shoes. I am a big fan of the Roshe Run. I am a big fan of New York City, the city I’ve called home for 15 years. Hence, I’m a big fan of these.
Nike SB Air Jordan 1 Lance Mountain
The Air Jordan 1 was a popular skate shoe in the 1980s because of its ankle support. Skaters would customize them by drawing on them with paint pens. Legendary skater Lance Mountain harkened back to that time with his Nike SB project. The shoes were covered in a white or black paint that wore off over time, revealing black/red and black/blue colorways underneath.
Fragment Design x Nike Tennis Classic
The Tennis Classic is one of those sneakers that looks good with everything. A suit? No problem. Jeans? Yup. Shorts? Those too. The subtle snakeskin print on the heel by Fragment Design’s Hiroshi Fujiwara is subtle but makes the shoe.