2015 was one of the best years the sneaker business has seen. The amount of diversity available to sneaker enthusiasts was incredible. Whether you wanted super hyped Public School Jordans or Kanye’s adidas, or some of the incredible GR colorways and collabs that came from brands like PUMA, New Balance and Vans, the options were plentiful.
Before getting into my list, there are a few honorable mentions that need addressed. The Murakami x Vans are likely the only chance most people will ever have at owning the famed artist’s work and the collab turned out incredible. The Reebok ZPump may have been over branded but the shoe is incredibly comfortable and it was nice to see Reebok find some success outside of the CrossFit world again. And of course, the 20 years of eS Skateboarding saw the release of the Sal Barbier retro.
Since nobody is paying me to create this list, it probably won’t look like all your other favorite bloggers out there. But it will, however, look pretty diverse — like my sneaker collection. Check out my My Top 10 Sneakers of 2015.
Hypebeast x adidas Ultra Boost Uncaged
With so many collaborations happening now, most people have forgotten why they happened in the first place. The Hypebeast Ultra Boost is a reminder that collaborations are supposed to push the brands beyond their comfort zone and challenge the status quo. Taking the cage off of the Ultra Boost also meant removing the Three Stripes branding, which is a bold move for a major brand to attempt. Props to Hypebeast and adidas for pushing the envelope. I can’t imagine another brand willing to remove their logo and I think this mindset is a major reason why adidas is winning right now.
Concepts x New Balance 998 “Grand Tourer”
If you know me, you know I’m obsessed with cars. The Grand Tourer 998 by Concepts captures the driving spirit that I love about them and combines them with my passion for sneakers. It’s a perfectly balanced colorway that feels premium and timeless. The fact that the pop up happened at Period Correct, one of my favorite boutiques, makes it that much more appealing.
BAIT x Saucony Original “Global Warning”
If you dig through my Twitpics or Instagram feed, you’ll see that the Saucony Shadow [Original] is one of my favorite silhouettes. Bait has a history of creating great collabs and this one hits the mark. The “Global Warning” Shadow is clean, subtle, and something that is wearable every day but will still turn some heads.
Mastermind x Reebok Furylite
I’ve always been a fan of Japan and its culture. The style of Reebok’s new Furylite reminds me of the timeless Japanese style but also incredibly relevant to current trends. What I really like about this collaboration with Mastermind is that it’s on a new silhouette, which seems like something you don’t see as much today. If you haven’t tried on a pair of these, you’re missing out. They’re comfortable and at a price point that doesn’t leave you eating ramen everyday.
Ronnie Fieg x Diamond Supply Co. x ASICS
Ronnie and Nick have become two of the most successful brands in the sneaker and streetwear cultures. Though I can’t keep up with the hype and prices that Kith and Diamond Supply have risen to, I remember a time when both these guys were just regular dudes hustling to get their name out there. I’m not a huge fan of the tongue on the Gel Lyte III so it was nice to see this collab use different silhouettes. The Gel Saga has never had a better colorway than this one.
Under Armour Curry One “MVP”
I’ve already written about why I think the Curry One is so important. Let’s just hope Under Armour doesn’t restock everything and burn out.
XLARGE x Puma R698
XLARGE is one of my favorite Japanese brands and the Puma R698 is one of my favorite sneakers (no, really). That said, this blue is fire. I love the leather toebox too. But what was really great about this collab is that most people didn’t even know it happened. If only I could have flown to Japan to buy a pair, since they only released there.
adidas Originals Yeezy Boost 350 “Pirate Black”
Kanye West has been single-handedly steering the sneaker and streetwear businesses over the last few years. It’s actually quite unbelievable how much of an influence he has. I’ve yet to be able to grab a pair of adidas Yeezy Boosts for myself but if I could, the 350 “Pirate Black” is the best of the bunch.
Air Jordan 1 “Shattered Backboard”
It’s kind of crazy how far Air Jordans have flown from my radar. They’re timeless and classic, and I watched MJ play IN PERSON, and all of the nostalgia, etc. But the struggle to be able to get a pair has burned me so many times that I hardly put in any effort anymore. However, the Shattered Backboard colors, story, and unbelievable material quality is the perfect Jordan 1 Retro to me. I’d love to see the Jordan 1 disappear for about five years and come back with the same quality.
adidas Ultra Boost
The adidas Ultra Boost is the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever worn. I’ve worn the original black/purple colorway almost 150 days since I got them just under a year ago. I haven’t beat up a pair of sneakers like this since I was a kid. I guess that’s a new form of nostalgia I didn’t see coming from sneakers. Nice work, adidas.
Nick Engvall is a sneaker enthusiast with nearly 15 years of experience in the footwear business. He has written for publications such as Complex, Sole Collector and Sneaker News. Helped companies like Eastbay, Finish Line, Foot Locker, and StockX better connect with their consumers. He’s an avid San Francisco Giants fan, Allen Iverson fan, and owns way too many sneakers for his own good.