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43 Coolest Sneaker of 2018 So Far

2018 has already been an intense year for sneakers. We started the year heavy on the chunky soles and dad shoe trend, and, while the year goes on, we’re getting more into personalized pairs. White sneakers are appearing across every market, acting as canvases for amateur creatives to leave a personal touch on their kicks.

Meanwhile, brands have also been focused on blending the past and the future; you’ll find this list is populated with shoes that draw inspiration or elements from the ’80s and ’90s, but play with them in very contemporary ways.

And while technology used to be about running away from the past, the sneakers in 2018 show us that we can use it as a launching pad. This is our list of the best sneakers of 2018, so far.

AIR JORDAN X DON C LEGACY 312

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The sneaker community is split pretty drastically around the Legacy 312, and we understand why: The shoes represent a mash-up of some of the most beloved sneakers in the Nike and Jordan archives. Intensely nostalgic sneaker heads have called the combination Don C put together a travesty, but if you’re willing to look forward, there’s a lot to appreciate about the shoes. Depending on the colorway you grab, the shoes can be bold or subtle, a mirror of how you can see these sneakers as retro inspired or entirely new. There are more colorways of this sneaker coming that haven’t released yet so stay tuned.

Original Price: $160

SHOP NIKE

NIKE X OFF-WHITE PRESTO “BLACK” & “WHITE”

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Easily one of the most hyped sneakers of the year, the duo of black and white Air Prestos from Nike and Off-White were also one of the best. Virgil Abloh snapped with the original Air Presto from his “The Ten” collection last year, and, while the design was initially overlooked, it has since proven itself to be one of the most progressive from the collection. The complexity of the silhouette lends itself well to the subtleties of black and white to let the textures come through. Fans lapped up both colorways, and many of the white pairs have become canvases for homemade customs to near unanimous positive results.

Original Price: $160

SHOP NIKE

REEBOK X PYER MOSS DMX FUSION 1

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2018 can boast some truly innovative steps in sneaker design, and the DMX Fusion 1 from Reebok and Pyer Moss is squarely in the pantheon of that arena. The silhouette itself is like a dozen other sock runners, but the lacing system is almost mind-boggling. The laces start at the very toe and help inform the shape of the vamp as they pull back to the quarter. Once at the quarter they crisscross a few times through loops, which are rigged so low on the shoe, they’re almost at the sole. The laces then wrap around the heel before coming back to the tongue for closure with a lacelock. It’s a complicated but refreshing system, and it opens the door for a lot of customization.

Original Price: $180

SHOP REEBOK

NIKE X TRAVIS SCOTT AIR FORCE 1 “SAIL”

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Original Price: $150

SHOP NIKE

ADIDAS AM4 SERIES

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Courtesy

Adidas is currently engaged in a global push to reduce its carbon footprint, and one of the more interesting ways the brand has approached the issue is to be hyper-local. The new AM4 program underscores the brand’s abilities at the SpeedFactories, which are manufacturing centers that operate in each of the global markets. In 2018, Adidas has toured around to major cities releasing local versions of a new BOOST runner calibrated for the aesthetics of each city. The shoes may not be the most aesthetically appealing pairs, but they promise a new future of manufacturing and that’s huge.

Original Price: $200

SHOP ADIDAS

NIKE AIR SKYLON 2

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Original Price: $100

SHOP NIKE

NIKE BETRUE COLLECTION

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Original Price: $150

SHOP NIKE

AIR JORDAN X LEVI’S IV

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What started as a one-off has turned into an ongoing collaboration between Levi’s and Jordan brand. The first pair used Levi’s blue denim to cover a Jordan 4, creating the first officially sanctioned denim Jordan, years after the Jumpman created some on its own. Golden stitching and Levi’s tabs appear all over the sneaker, making for the most authentic translation from dungaree to sportswear possible. Since the first pair, we’ve seen white and black versions, too. We wouldn’t be surprised if the creative partnership continues with new colors materials or on new silhouettes.

Original Price: $225

SHOP NIKE

ADIDAS FUTURECRAFT 4D “ASH GREEN”

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Original Price: $300

SHOP ADIDAS

NIKE X CDG AIR MAX 180

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The sentiment that Real Men Wear Pink was proven with the Comme des Garçons Air Max 180s. In a trio of pink scale sneakers, each version is fresher than the last. It offers a range of executions, from the subtlest black and pink to a full-on exploration of how many shades can fit on a single shoe. They sold out immediately and continue to break necks for those who were lucky enough to grab pairs.

Original Price: $260

SHOP NIKE

AIR JORDAN 3 JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE “SUPER BOWL”

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Original Price: $200

SHOP NIKE

NIKE AIR MAX 270

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Nike’s Air Max line is a staple in the industry and it grows each year as the family expands. Some silhouettes stick around, like the Air Max 90, while others from more recent years fall away. This year, the brand introduced the Air Max 270. It was so named for the 270-degree air bubble at the heel, a design that seems poised to stand the test of time. One of the first releases of the sneaker was this Black Pack that employed black uppers as the neutral counter to a bevy of bright colors on the bubble. After all, that bubble is the heart of the sneaker. This pack is still the best usage of the silhouette to introduce it to the world, and these will be considered classics for the 270’s archive.

Original Price: $150

SHOP NIKE

NIKE/JORDAN “THE 1 REIMAGINED”

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2018 will go down as the year Nike and Jordan Brand started thinking about the women’s market seriously. Jordan created an entire sub brand devoted to their female customers, and launched pieces with the “1 Reimagined” program. Ten new takes on the Jordan 1 and Air Force 1 offer complete shakeups of these classic designs, shuffled up for a female customer base. Don’t let the gender designation get in the way; some of these deserve full market distribution.

Original Price: $120-160

SHOP NIKE

NIKE X MAGIC STICK AIR FORCE 1

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Off-White’s collaborations with Nike will forever mark a turning point in what the major brands allowed collaborators to do with their beloved sneakers. As much as that represented a paradigm shift, there will always be projects like the MAGIC STICK Air Force 1, which creatively experiment within the limited confines of heritage silhouettes. The MAGIC STICK AF1s utilize unique materials (Tyvek and 3M in addition to leather and suede) for a look that is at once subtle and eye catching. With piping that reflects light and a neon ankle strap against the white upper, MAGIC STICK did a lot within a series of limitations that the industry is leaving behind.

Original Price: ¥16200

SHOP NIKE

AIR JORDAN 1 “PATENT GOLD TOE”

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It’s never a bad time for a gold sneaker, and the combination of gold and patent leather on these Jordan 1s is a winner. To be fair, the Top 3 Gold 1s from 2017 were slightly better, but this more conservative take on the look is a great consolation pair. The funny thing about sneakers like the Patent Gold Toe Jordan 1 is that, as much as they feel luxe, they also feel accessible. These sneakers can take you anywhere. They may even help you fly like Mike.

Original Price: $160

SHOP NIKE

AIR JORDAN X OVO 8

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We don’t know how much time is left with the ongoing collaboration between Air Jordan and Drake’s OVO brand, but each one of their releases has been a banger—even if you’re not a fan of the rapper. Much energy has gone into speculating about Drake’s relationship with Jordan Brand (and the possibility that he’s moving over to Adidas), but regardless of where he ends up, the sophisticated color combinations of black, white, and gold have graced a number of classic Jordans. These black and white versions of the Jordan 8 are elevated staples. These will never go out of style, even if Drake’s with the three stripes this time next year.

Original Price: $225

SHOP NIKE

BALENCIAGA TRIPLE-S

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We don’t want to confuse the two very different trends of Dad Shoes and Chunky Shoes, but the Balenciaga Triple-S represents the peak for both of them. Those trends are petering out, but we cannot deny that the Triple-S has had a massive impact, and the reverberation continues. Each chunky sneaker released since the Triple-S seems like a weak knock-off of the sneaker that truly set the tone. The year has also seen the silhouette develop and change in both look and price because the shoes sell out as quickly as Balenciaga can make them. It’s truly a phenomenon.

Original Price: $850

SHOP BALENCIAGA

NIKE X RONNIE FIEG LEBRON 15 “LONG LIVE THE KING”

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LeBron’s sneaker line slowed down over the last few years, bringing us uninspired offerings and fading into the background. But this year, that all changed. Nike and LeBron finally approached the tech sneaker with lifestyle responsibilities. The first few colorways sold out immediately, but the real intro came when LeBron teamed up with Ronnie Fieg and Kith for this “Long Live the King” collection. The shoes dive deep into royal symbology, creating a series of styles that transcend the technical aspects of the sneaker. When the kicks released, there was no way to know that LeBron would lose out on a ring, leave Cleveland, and create a school set to reshape a generation of youth in Ohio, but these remind us that 2018 has been a roller coaster.

Original Price: $200

SHOP NIKE

AIR JORDAN 3 “BLACK CEMENT”

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For many sneakerheads, the Black Cement 3 is considered the greatest sneaker of all time. A combination of silhouette, colorway, social significance, and basic wearability created a perfect storm. The shoes were made available to the public again for the first time since 2011, introducing a new generation to the GOAT sneaker and letting the rest of us refresh our collection.

Original Price: $200

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ADIDAS X PHARRELL “BLANK CANVAS”

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Original Price: $250-160

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AIR JORDAN X OFF-WHITE 1 “WHITE”

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Original Price: $190

SHOP NIKE

NIKE X SUPREME AIR FORCE 1

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Supreme got back with Nike on some Air Force 1s that, while maybe not the most sought-after pairs of the year, have grabbed their share of attention. Covered in NBA logos from toe to heel, the sneakers are practically a hot mess. But they are also an amazing play on the overbranding trend of this year. These pairs will go down as one of the most recognizable sneakers of the year and remind for us of what 2018 was all about.

Original Price: $165

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AIR JORDAN 3 “SEOUL”

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It wouldn’t be overly self-important to say that sneaker culture started in the U.S. and has lead the industry since the community really got rolling in the ’80s. But now, that community is now global, and it’s about time the brands really played to each of those markets. This spring, Jordan Brand created a pair of Jordan 3s for Seoul Korea to celebrate the Olympics. On a quick look, they look like a strange version of the True Blues or maybe White Cements. But upon closer inspection, you’ll notice they’re a play on the Korean flag, with the actual flag elements appearing as embroidery on the tongue. They’re a very subtle flex, considering not many pairs of them exist in the world.

Original Price: $225

SHOP NIKE

PIZZA HUT X SHOE SURGEON PIE TOPS II

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Have you ever wanted to order pizza but you couldn’t be bothered to reach for your phone? Pizza Hut solved that perennial challenge with its Pie Tops II, designed and manufactured by Shoe Surgeon. The sneakers have obvious retro sneaker inspiration, but the killer is that they are optimized with tech to order a pizza for you and then pause your TV when the delivery guy arrives. They may not satisfy your sneaker thirst, but they can satisfy your hunger.
ADIDAS X OYSTER HOLDINGS HANDBALL TOP

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Original Price: $130

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ADIDAS X KITH RESPONSE TR BOOST TERREX EEA

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The outdoor shoe came back with a vengeance this year, and that’s in large part thanks to Kith’s ongoing partnership with Adidas’ Terrex brand. They released a slew of kicks, but our favorite is this TR Boost EEA. We love these because they straddle the line between an ostentatious outdoorsy shoe and a more digestible streetwear look. The classic Ronnie Fieg colors of navy and salmon pink appear all over the shoe, with a rugged sole that makes them work just as well on a hike as they do on Lafayette Street.

Original Price: $180

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NIKE AIR FORCE 1 FOAMPOSITE PRO “CORAL”

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Another near subversion of a classic, the coral colorway of Nike’s Air Force 1 Foamposite Pro plays with expectations in a bright and fun way. Usually, the Air Force 1 Foamposite is marketed to the most fragile and masculine consumers in the community, so for Nike to release the shoe in a bright pink was a gauntlet thrown. This sneaker represents a challenge to consumers to expand, and that’s a challenge we can get behind. The color works great on the Foamposite material, highlighting the curves and ridges without being too abrasive.

Original Price: $180

SHOP NIKE

VERSACE X 2 CHAINZ CHAIN REACTION

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Once the 2 Chainz sneaker with Versace was announced, all eyes turned to the brand in anticipation of what it would be. Not because of 2 Chainz, but because of Salehe Bembury, the newly minted lead footwear designer at Versace. Bembury designed with Greats and Cole Haan in the past before heading over to Kanye’s Yeezy brand. The Chain Reaction was his first big sneaker with Versace, and it is literally big. The sole is a massive reconstruction of Cuban chain links, while the upper is a veritable canvas for whatever designs the Versace team or collaborators can dream up. And you know a shoe this big comes with an equally big price tag.

Original Price: $995–1,350

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REEBOK SOCK RUN.R

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The sock runner trend, perfected by the Balenciaga Speed Trainer, hit its apogee with Reebok’s Run.r. Like we said, Balenciaga perfected the look, but these Sock Run.rs are still amazing. The upper is about as simple a sock you can get, with some printing on the throat, but the sole is what’s most interesting about the shoe. The seemingly multi-unit sole features what looks like a separated toe (it’s connected to the rest of the sole under the sneaker), a taller section at the ball for stability, and a heel cup at the back. The look is intense but surprisingly well balanced.

Original Price: $250

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PUMA X MCM SUEDE

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You may be familiar with MCM’s audacious monogrammed leather on accessories like backpacks and purses. The look is a popular one, so Puma stuck with what works for the collaboration. The two brands used the famous Suede, a sneaker worn on court by OG NBA players like Clyde Frazier, covering the shoe in signature MCM leathers. The resulting pairs were far and away one of the most expensive Puma ever released, but if you’re into the MCM style, they were worth every penny.

Original Price: $340

SHOP PUMA

ADIDAS X PARLEY ULTRABOOST CLIMA

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The UltraBoost has been a homerun for Adidas year after year, but sometimes we wonder if the three stripes is resting on its laurels with that one. This year, it offered a refreshing update: the UltraBoost Clima. It quickly followed up with a Parley for the Oceans collaboration. The Clima version of the UltraBoost utilizes breathability for a ton of added texture without disrupting the silhouette that’s made the sneaker so popular. The blue Parley yarn is a welcome injection of color into the otherwise entirely neutral sneaker. Plus, because the yarn is made from ocean waste, each pair of these shoes represents a cleaner planet.

Original Price: $200

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NIKE AIR MONARCH IV “WEEKEND CAMPOUT”

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Irony peaked with the “Weekend Campout” colorway of Nike’s classic Air Monarch. The Monarch has earned its title of being the daddest dad shoe of them all, and sneaker collectors have laced them up ironically for years. But the Weekend Campout colorway brought the sneaker to the next level, offering an elevated version of the shoe. Doing so in limited numbers throttled supply and raised demand.

Original Price: $120

SHOP NIKE

NIKE X SUPREME ZOOM STREAK SPECTRUM PLUS

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Another entry in the reappearing retro runners, the latest collaboration between Supreme and Nike took the surprising form of the Zoom Streak Spectrum Plus. They feature the classic combination of mesh and leather in sharp waves across the upper. Not satisfied enough with the old-school material design, each colorway is covered in flames. The effect is at once respectful of the past, while also giving it a cheeky update. These were by no means Supreme’s most popular collaboration, but they’re fresh and fit squarely into what the industry has been up to this year.

Original Price: $160

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NIKE X KENDRICK LAMAR CORTEZ KENNY III

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Kendrick Lamar moving from Reebok to Nike was a natural because Nike gave him the Cortez, and nary has a combination of sneaker and artist felt more seamless. Kendrick used the opportunity to put out a series of colorways inspired by his music and evolving identity, offering a range of aesthetics. The Cortez Kenny III is the best one yet. Black, white, and red play off classic sneaker colorways, but Lamar injected the sneakers with details like Chinese characters embroidered into the toe and “BET IT BACK” printed on the tongue ribbon. It’s a brilliant pairing.

Original Price: $100

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AIR JORDAN III “INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT”
We know there are a lot of Jordan IIIs on this list (It makes sense; it is one of the very best basketball sneakers of all time.), but these “International Flight” Jordan IIIs are amazing and worthy of attention. They’re not doing anything crazy—on the contrary, it’s a colorway that seems like it should have released years ago. What’s surprising about this sneaker is the off-white leather that dominates the upper. Jordan Brand is known for its combinations of white, black, red, and blue, so these more subtler tones add a sort of aged quality to the look in a way that’s more than welcome. These are by no means classics, but they deserve recognition.

Original Price: $190

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ADIDAS ALPHABOUNCE INSTINCT

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The AlphaBounce has been a great sneaker for Adidas, opening the brand up to runners on a tighter budget. But the AlphaBounce Beyond is a whole new level. The one shortcoming of the AlphaBounce was always aesthetics; it was often an overkill combination of textures, materials, and patterns. But the new AlphaBounce Beyond edits and elevates the look to the next level. The sole design fits seamlessly into the upper, each of them playing off the same textural motifs. An arch plug adds a little bit of surprise. The Beyond demands a few dollars more than its predecessor, but it also represents more than a couple extra steps in the right direction.

Original Price: $120

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NIKE ELEMENT REACT 87

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After initially teased in collaboration with Undercover, the Element React 87 became one of the most highly anticipated sneakers of the summer. The shoe combines the sole tech of the React with an innovative translucent upper that reflects some subtler trends in the sneaker industry. The shoes have only released in the black and white versions, each selling out whip quick. Expect Nike to roll out a ton more colorways of this sneaker. Nike has been hurting for a win like this. They finally got it.

Original Price: $160

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BAPE BAPESTA “1ST CAMO”

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If you know Bape, you know it rips heritage designs from other companies, but that’s also sort of their thing. Also sort of why we love them. The Bapesta is a shameless rip-off of the Air Force 1, and while Bape consistently puts Bapestas out year after year, it’s far rarer that we see them in Bape’s iconic “1st Camo.” The 1st Camo is the graphic camouflage that made Bape famous, so the combination of camo and sneaker promised a firestorm of hype. And the shoes made good on that promise. Even if you’re not caught in the hype, they have a unique charm to them and will ultimately prove to be one of the best releases of the year.

Original Price: $305

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ADIDAS SOBAKOV

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Adidas has proven to be an innovator in sole technology, and few pairs show that off more explicitly than the new Sobakov. Inspired by the three stripe’s tradition of soccer sneakers, the Sobakov utilizes a bold sole that is as practical as it is sculptural. Each of the deep ridges spins all over the sole, offering grip and traction, while also creating a really dope look. Add to that the knit upper designed to have the same depth and darkness as suede, and the Sobakov offers a pitch perfect balance between retro inspiration and new traditions.

Original Price: $120

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Y-3 KAIWA

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Y-3’s newest sneaker, the Kaiwa, represents a beautiful confluence of sneaker trends from the last couple years, all combining into one show-stopping sneaker. Y-3 is known for progressive design with technical aesthetics. While the Kaiwa employs that in the sole (which is very chunky, like many pairs that are currently popular), the upper retains the implication of significant quality that comes with a leather paneled sneaker. But the upper isn’t totally traditional; it has a sock shape instead of using a tongue. All of these elements could make the sneaker too busy, but it somehow retains a near minimalism.

Original Price: $400

SHOP Y-3

ADIDAS X INVINCIBLE 4D “PRISM”

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Original Price: $400

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NIKE VANDAL SUPREME “BLACK/GOLD”

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You’re probably not going to find these new Nike Vandals on anyone else’s “Best of the Year” lists, but we’re OK with that. There’s nothing particularly notable about these Vandals except for the fact that they’re amazingly executed. The Vandal has been around for decades in colorways just like this black and gold one, but the combination of elevated construction with black satin and gold leather makes for a sneaker that’s unmissable. Especially at $90. These are a total General Release that are unlikely to sell out any time soon, and even less likely to inspire sneaker collectors to snatch them up and sit on them for years. But they’re something special.

Original Price: $90

SHOP NIKE

GREATS X ‘BILLIONS’ ROYALE

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You were probably surprised when you saw Brooklyn-based sneaker brand Greats created a collaborative sneaker with Showtime hit show Billions. We were too. Greats is all about getting high-quality Italian craftsmanship at an affordable price, and when collaborating with a show about how money changes people and relationships, they leaned in. The sneakers are subtle, with a black suede upper, waxed laces, and an off-white sole, but it’s the sockliner that tells the story. “What’s the point of having FUCK YOU MONEY if you never say ‘FUCK YOU’,” is printed on the inside of the sneaker to help remind you who you are with every step.

Original Price: $199

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