Now that September is almost over and we are 3/4 of the way through the year, I started thinking about what pickups I was most excited about in 2016. The short answer to the question is: not much. But that would make a boring blog post so I’ll go ahead and talk about the pairs that have been standouts for me so far. Of course there are the usual suspects but maybe a few surprises, too. Let’s see what we have here.
Adidas Ultra Boost
I’ll start with one of the most obvious and state that I’ve been a fan since a few friends with good taste turned me on to the OG model early last year. By now, there are about 12-14 pairs in my collection including pairs I got for less than retail and some of the more sought after collabs. A couple of pairs I rotate for working out and some I wear regularly as my “go to” sneakers. Really nothing can compete with the comfort and fit – hype or no hype. The solid black Wood Wood pair without the gradient is probably my favorite.
Asics Gel Respector
These get a lot of bashing due to the toebox shape but for these two pairs in particular I’m willing to let that slide. The fit is similar to the Gel Lyte III and I love the very different color choices that help make these attract my attention from the overdone colorways out there. Maybe not pairs I wear all the time but two that I enjoyed adding to the collection and they stand out from the crowd.
The Distinct Life x Reebok Bolton
There have been three pairs so far in this series and each one has outdone the previous release. Materials and details are impeccable and I could and do wear any of the three any day of the week. Admittedly I was not familiar with this model but Rick Williams got my attention with this incredible trio.
Garbstore x Reebok
Garbstore continue to impress with their Reebok releases and with each season they only get better. If I could I would grab every colorway of every model but since that isn’t practical these are my favorites. Excited to see them working with the Classic Leather now, too.
Highs & Lows x Reebok NPC UK
Wow. From the first time I saw these and especially the first time I took them out of the box, I’ve been impressed with this release. Something to be said for going with a simple and classic colorway, but closer inspection demonstrates it is all in the details. The buttery soft deer leather is the standout, followed by the perfect shade of blue and the woodgrain eyelets. Seeing these go on sale is a shame but it means more pairs for those who enjoy quality over hype.
West NYC x Saucony Shadow 6000 “Fresh Water”
West NYC continue to be one of my favorite shops I’ve never been to, if for nothing else their ability to produce well thought out and executed collabs that are just frequent enough. Following up on the “Saltwater” release from late 2015, Les and team murdered another retro model with incredible attention to detail and fresh material choices I had not seen before. Another release that didn’t sell out and should have.
Greats Brand Pronto
While this may not have been a new model for 2016, I finally decided to step out of my Wooster and Royale cycle and try something new from one of my favorite brands. Needless to say I was not disappointed. Leather, suede, nylon all mixed together along with rich and vibrant colors helped put these releases on this list. After so many times opening a highly anticipated release from major brands only to be let down, it is nice to see the consistency and craftsmanship Greats produces. If you haven’t done so, give Greats a look – you won’t be disappointed.
Nike Air Max 1 Ultra Flyknit
Pretty rare for me to include Nike on any list that isn’t based on pure nostalgia, but this one covered that base for me too. There were no Air Max 1 releases in my collection and I’ve been wanting to add one. However, I’ve tried rocking retro AM1 and find them practically unwearable. Luckily this pair brought what I love about shoes like Ultra Boost and put it on a retro silo. Light, springy and breathable – actually ended up grabbing the black and white pair too. I’ve derided Nike’s attempts to put new tech on old models in the past but this one just does it for me.
Wolverine x Saucony Shadow Original
I dedicated a full post to these already so I won’t beat a dead horse. Regardless of the fact that these were gifted to me, they made the list and I would have paid for them anyway. To see Saucony release a pair with Horween Leather and do so at half the price New Balance does says a lot. Can’t wait to see how these break in after more wears.
SBTG x Kicks Lab x Asics Gel Lyte V “Phys Ed”
This year we traveled to Singapore for work again and I was so fortunate to meet Mark aka”SBTG” in his studio. With this particular pair I received a huge assist from a team of solid friends in Singapore who not only helped me secure a pair but got them personalized and included the limited pair with patches. More on those guys and my visit to SBTG in a later post, but I’ll just say these shoes will always hold extra meaning due to the personal connections.
Ball & Buck x New Balance USA 585 “Sporting Gentleman”
As I wrote above and I will continue to say, rarely do the shoes live up to the hype and anticipation we tend to place on them. This pair blew it all away and I would probably say this is my favorite pair so far this year. Many were leery of the price point and others of the model. In my opinion, I’d rather have one nice pair I really like and will wear than two or three pairs that end up at the bottom of the pile and never get worn again. Granted I have over 200 pairs so I’m not sure how well I adhere to that, but hopefully my point still comes across. This is another release that needs to be seen in person to appreciate and I was lucky to have added it to my stash with some very big help from a local friend who unselfishly offered to go to the store himself and secure my pair. Add these to list of pairs with some meaning.
That’s where things stand for me so far this year. Curious to see what the next three months bring but honestly I find myself digging in the closet and wearing pairs from years back more often these days. At the same time it is becoming easier and easier to pass on releases altogether or at the very least wait to see if they go on sale.
What would you put on your top releases of 2016 so far?