Sneaker of the Year debates are already running hot and heavy in sneaker circles, and the conversations can get heated. With so many releases already, there's a lot to talk about. With even more releases coming in the year's second half, our team has put together a list of the hottest sneaker releases of the year so far.
We’ve curated the current top 10 list, Sleepers, Comeback Sneaker Of The Year, and what to watch for the rest of the way. Only shoes that were released between January 1 - June 30, 2023, were considered for the mid-year awards
SNEAKER OF THE YEAR
10. Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 1906R: When New Balance decided to put a big push behind the reintroduction of the 1906R, the only reasonable thing to do was to do it with an ALD collab. Since its release, the road has been paved for a handful of more colorways, and the silhouette is taking its place in the market.
9. Tiffany & Co. x Nike Air Force 1 Low "1837": The simplistic matte black design is what made the shoe special, and the Tiffany Blue Swoosh. The release was the perfect amount of build-up for a shoe that wasn't hard to get hands-on. From the F&F pack reveals from the like of Kim K, many thought this would be an impossible cop, but with a Nike NBHD release and massive stock on Tiffany’s, many found a pleasant surprise.
8. Ronnie Fieg for Adidas & Clarks 8th Street Samba “Chalk White”: With as many shoes under his name as Ronnie Fieg has, it's hard to imagine this one was the biggest. The response to the release was so overwhelming that Fieg and Kith decided to open the shoes up for pre-order so everyone who wanted them could score a pair. With 3 colorways in the collection, the “Chalk White” simplicity with the green stripes, crepe sole, and ultra-premium suede was the quintessential shoe for Fieg.
7. Action Bronson x New Balance 990v6 “Lapis Lazuli”: Action Bronson's “Baklava” accurately represents the renaissance man he is. The second shoe of the collection created some of the strongest buzzes of 2023. Perhaps its variations of blue-collar hues and work-boot style laces spoke to the everyday sneakerhead, but this was by far one of the year's best collaborations.
6. Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 Low OG “Olive”: Whether it was the shoe's signature Travis Scott earth tones or the fact that sneakerheads knew this was the last time they’d see the Cactus Jack name on a Jordan 1. It could have also been Nike’s rollout plan, with no promo, teasers, or anything until the absolute last moment possible. This scared some people into thinking these shoes wouldn't even drop and then BAM, boutique raffles loaded up worldwide in what seemed like a matter of minutes.
5. Air Jordan 3 “White Cement Reimagined”: Nike's reintroduction of OG colorways with new presentations has been nothing short of masterful. The White Cement 3 is a classic, a top 5 all-time Air Jordan, and the neo-vintage 2023 twist built to the original 1988 specs was the perfect way to honor the 35th anniversary of the shoe.
4. Corteiz x Air Max 95 “Pink Beam”: “BE @ WEST 34TH ST & 7TH AVE. TOMORROW AT 12:05 PM EST. LOCATION REVEALED HERE.” This may have been the sneaker worlds Instagram post of the year. Hundreds mobbed the scene, and when the location was revealed to be the nearby “Coreteiz Deli” the mob made a mad dash. The lone security guard handing out access wristbands was forced to pull a knife in self-defense before police arrived to tame the situation.
3. Nike SB Air Jordan 4 “Pine Green”: Always the innovator, it's a surprise it took Nike this long to merge the 2 iconic names. Nike rebuilt the Air Jordan 4 to make it an actual skate shoe with more grip and board feel. The release was absolute pandemonium; the few stores that actually tried to run FCFS fell just short of a riot as demand for the shoe was that high.
2. Jarritos x Nike SB Dunk Low: Hype started rising for this shoe immediately upon the first look leaks of what seemed to be a full flavored pack, but Nike eventually scrapped the multi-color approach for the hemp upp tear away piece. Not only was the sure pure fire, but they actually put out bottles of Nike SB Jarritos in bodegas all across the country.
1. Nike Zoom Vomero 5 Doerenbecher: It's a beautiful thing that Nike does with the Doerenbecher Childrens Hospital every year, and this year's Vomero 5 design by the young Jaren Heacock was legendary. The Vomero 5 was a sleeper on release day, but its popularity grew like wildfire when people started to receive pairs in hand. The citrus-style color palate was vibrant yet clean, while the velcro patches and swooshes allowed a personal touch.
SLEEPER OF THE YEAR
Jae Tips x Saucony Grid Azura 2000: Sometimes, a design has so much crazy woven into it that it is nearly perfect. That's precisely what happened here with a shoe that didn’t release to much fanfare.
COMEBACK OF THE YEAR
Nike Air Mac Attack "OG": perhaps this was just a product of the Nike marketing powerhouse doing its thing or that Travis Scott cosigned it, but the reintroduction of the Nike Air Mac Attack took the sneaker world by storm.
2023 is only half over, and much more is still to come. Here are a few shoes to look out for when the year-end Sneaker Of The Year lists come out.
Born x Raised x Nike SB Dunk Low "One Block At A Time": Nike understandably delayed the release, but if and when it does come out, expect to see this one up on the mantle.
Balvin x Air Jordan 3 “Medellin Sunset”: While the shoe is relatively muted compared to Balvin's previous collabs it may be just what we need right now.