The year isn’t quite over yet, but we’ve gone ahead and rounded up our picks for the best Nike sneakers of the year, so far.
Every weekend brings a long list of big releases, and we know full well that tracking the best drops of 2019 is no small task. At the end of the year, don’t miss our annual Highsnobiety Crowns awards, where we recap the best of the best, including the best sneakers to drop over 12 months. In case you missed it, our pick for the best sneaker of 2018 was the Nike React Element 87.
From nostalgic retro releases to the latest sneaker tech and more, these are the best Nike shoes of 2019.
Martine Rose x Nike Air Monarch
Regularly priced at $64.99 and often on discount, many would balk at the thought of a Monarch priced at $250. The inflated cost of Martine Rose’s collaborative edition, along with the shoe’s odd design that featured bulbous protrusions on the upper, made this release highly controversial. But you can’t deny Rose’s off-the-beaten-track thinking, as the British designer opted to saddle a size 18 upper over a size 9 sole, creating a visually unprecedented sneaker, to put it in a way.
Slam Jam x Nike Blazer “Class of ’77”
One of the most fundamental silhouettes in Nike’s catalog, the Blazer got a vintage reissue this year alongside Italian retailer and agency Slam Jam, who brought the shoe back to its classic 1977 shape, more a major touch. On the medial side of the shoe, Nike’s iconic Swoosh is reversed, while the sneaker retains its classic Blazer design from a lateral perspective. On the heel, slightly cracked text reads “Class” and “1977”, building on the authentic vintage feel of the shoe.
While they didn’t cement a spot on our list, a very special mention goes to the vintage Blazer colorway three-pack — “Habanero Red”, “Pacific Blue” and “Lucid Green” — which dropped in January.
Nike Adapt BB
Nike’s self-lacing shoe heritage began with Marty McFly’s Nike MAGs of the 1989s Back to the Future II. In 2017, technology became a reality with the proven HyperAdapt sneaker. In 2019, Nike released the Adapt BB, a self-lacing basketball shoe that retails for $350. When you first put the shoe on, a motor and sense gear train adjust the fit accordingly by sensing tension, while the shoe can also be loosened or tightened via two midsole buttons or a mobile app. For more, check out our in-depth review of the Adapt BB sneaker.
Nike Air Max 1 “Grass”
A 1987 running shoe redesigned for the fairway, this Nike Golf Air Max 1 design features a synthetic turf upper and is unlike any Air Max 1 design we’ve ever seen. This Air Max astroturf features tonal green laces, a white midsole and a contoured gum outsole, making it better equipped for links than your average Air Max 1. The result of a collaboration between the Golf and Sportswear departments of Nike, the result is certainly a standout release for 2019.
Girls Don’t Cry x Nike SB Dunk Low
The 2019 Girls Don’t Cry x Nike SB Dunk Low released exclusively ahead of Valentine’s Day 2019 in Osaka, Japan, the hometown of Girls Don’t Cry founder Verdy. The tonal red Dunk Low features thoughtful details that set it apart from other Dunk versions, such as a stitched butterfly logo on the tongue label, heart-shaped perforations above the midsole and the logo Girls Don’t Cry writing on the heel. Originally teased in mid-2018, then treated to a limited, local release in Osaka, anticipation for this release has had plenty of time to build, at a time when SB Dunks might be set to return somehow. .
Nike Air Max 180 “Berlin”
For Air Max Day 2019, Nike unveiled its Air Max 180 “Berlin”, an EU-exclusive design that pays homage to the nightlife and club scene of Berlin, the German capital. The story was told through “FREEDOM” and “UNITY” printed on the outsoles, and explained by Berlin DJ Honey Dijon who noted “I grew up in a time and place in club culture where artists, fashion designers and musicians have all come together to build a community of like-minded minds. It’s very important to continue this tradition.
The shoe comes with a collectible Nike box, when paired with thoughtful detailing and color blocking, making it a standout Nike release of 2019, so far.
Nike Air Max 97 SH Kaleidoscope
In 2018, Nike: On Air workshops took place in New York, London, Paris, Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo, where budding designers created sneaker designs inspired by their communities. Cash Ru’s Air Max 97 is inspired by the cloudy skies of Shanghai and features a translucent blue upper with sole and detailing. The 97’s wavy overlay panels lend themselves well to the blue ripstop material, while additional highlights include the shoe’s multiple heel tabs and contrasting red Swoosh.
Cactus Plant Flea Market x Nike VaporMax
Under-the-radar streetwear brand Cactus Plant Flea Market is the brainchild of Cynthia Lu, who became one of the very first non-athlete women to receive her own Nike collab when she reworked the Nike VaporMax sneaker. The irresistibly charming collab has a handmade feel thanks to a re-jigged Nike Swoosh crafted from garden yarn, as well as an offbeat smiley face graphic on the heel. This refreshing and quirky twist on the VaporMax has been widely celebrated and hard to come by due to limited availability at Dover Street Market and NikeLab stores.
sacai x Nike LDWaffle
No, you’re not seeing double. Sacai’s double-edged mix of two late ’70s Nike silhouettes, the LDV and Waffle Racer, features double-stacked soles, double tongues, twin laces and overlapping Swooshes. The colorways also derive from this same era of Nike design, and you might even recognize a colorway’s green hue as being similar to the University of Oregon’s signature pantone.
Launched on the Parisian runway in June 2018, the LDWaffle is a clever hybrid of new and old, and was presented with an accompanying Blazer, which was finally discontinued in May 2019, after some sneakerheads had it all just couldn’t bear the anticipation anymore.
Off-White™ x Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 5
In 2017, Virgil Abloh and Off-White™ announced “The Ten” collaboration with Nike, which simultaneously disrupted and reinvigorated the landscape of sneaker collaborations. Now that this chapter of the Off-White™ x Nike collaboration is complete, Abloh has turned to Nike’s catalog of track runners. The first drop to come from this new collaboration was the Zoom Terra Kiger 5, done in two colorways, both with exaggerated tread on the outsole and chunky rope laces.
Release date: June 26, 2019
To buy: StockX, GOAT
COMME des GARÇONS x Nike Shox TL
Nike and COMME des GARÇONS have been collaborating for about 20 years, and it’s always a time when the two brands come together. To coincide with Nike’s Shox push in 2019, COMME imagined the TL silhouette in an all black and all white, complete with a COMME des GARÇONS attached to Cuban links. The irreverent and undeniably eye-catching detail has made this collaboration a must-have for many.
For a bigger scoop from Nike, check out the clip below.
To stay up to date with everything happening in the world of sneakers, follow @Highsnobietysneakers on Instagram, check out our sneaker release date schedule and subscribe to our sneaker chatbot on Facebook to receive lightning-fast updates in your inbox.