Here are a list of my Top 16 sneakers of 2016. I am not talking about the top 16 to release in 2016, rather the ones I picked up amongst all the crazy heat that dropped. The ones I wanted to, the ones I managed to. Of course, opportunity, plugs and money permitting.
And while the list says there are 16 pairs (instead of what is the traditional top 5 or top 10), it is only because I struggled a fair bit to pick my favorites. There are a couple of kicks I couldn’t really choose between, so on some levels there is more than 1 pair but they all add up to 16.
I remember unboxing a sneaker sometime in early 2016 and talking about how it is an exciting year for the game in India. But little did I know what a great year it was going to be. Without much further ado. Let us get the countdown going.
Tying in at the tenth position are competitors at the top 2 slots of the sneaker game worldwide, Nike and adidas as well as a wild card entrant. I love these kicks because they are the one silhouette of either brand (Air Max and Tubular respectively) that I favour the most. And the fact they come with Flyknit/Primeknit adds to the comfort and pushes them up into the list as qualifiers. When I have a lot of walking to do, these are my kicks of preference. And then there is a sneaker that qualified sheerly by being released in India (after all these years) right in time to join the party – ASICS Tiger with their April Showers pack.
Boost has been making a lot of noise in the market for the tech and the various iterations/models that packs it. The NMD City Sock which came with a limited release was my first pair of Boost endowed kicks. I never considered picking up Ultra Boosts since I don’t work out until adidas sent me a pair. And ever since I got them, I have been hitting the tarmac pretty hard because I love wearing these sneakers. It would be a shame to let them sit. The uncaged Primeknit upper and Continental rubber outsole add to the appeal.
More than a silhouette, this spot is reserved for a colorway. Camo. I have always been a fan of Camo and this year end I found myself picking up quite a few things in this colorway – sneakers, jackets, etc. Reebok Classic in association with Afew Store launched the Camo colorway of the Furylite which I was able to get my hands on rather late. And then when I failed to snag a pair of the BAPE NMD, I got the second best thing – the NMD XR1 Duck Camo which I think is as good a sneaker as the BAPE collab, minus the hype.
The Vans X Nintendo kicks are a no-brainer. A throwback to memories and also a silhouette that is slowly creeping into the mainstream fashion scene. The Old Skool is cool! As for the Air Force 1 Wheat Workboot, although it dropped a year earlier (they wouldn’t retail in India back then), I picked them up from Germany with help from Sheral because I love the silhouette and the colorway that makes them look like Timberlands.
Perhaps the only sneaker on the list that is basic. But the silhouette is iconic across the globe and emotionally relevant to me. My older brother, Avith, bought me a pair of these when I was making my way through Post Grad. And those 2 years were a real hustle for me. Ever since, I have associated these kicks with the struggle and hustle of my life. I will always own a pair of Chucks. And with the Converse Chuck II, the Lunarlon sole makes the hustle a lot more comfier!
An underrated sneaker, much like the rapper outside of the Hip Hop world. Kendrick Lamar has some of the hardest hitting lines and this iteration of his collab with Reebok Classic is very understated. Calling for unity between the Bloods and the Krips, these Leather Lux Kendrick Lamar kicks are deeper than the hype.
Probably the most unexpected pick up of 2016 was this Mastermind Japan collaboration with Cole Haan. I had been seeing images of these pretty rad boots on Instagram and had no idea they would make it to India. When they did, I did not think twice!
You can’t possibly be a hypebeast, if you don’t own something from Supreme in your collection. Surely enough, I got these much hated, less hyped pair of Vans Sk8-Mid Pro “Eat Me” for myself. Getting your hands on anything Supreme is a task in itself. This was a good strike for me.
This year was a good run with the Yeezy’s, I got the Beluga as well as the Bred. As for the Oreo’s I picked up a pair for Sheral with help from Sahil. I guess Sahil is my sneaker plug after all! But amongst all that I picked up, I guess the BRED is my favourite. I love the colorway and it has gotten a fair bit of on-feet time. The quality of walk and materials is brilliant. The only reason it is in 2nd place is because they look f’ing brilliant with skinny jeans and I am just too thick to wear my denims tight.
Topping the charts it the Air Jordan 1 Retro BRED/BANNED or whatever you’d like to call it. It isn’t the most expensive or even a well made sneaker, really. In fact, the manufacturing quality is pretty shit. The only reason it made it to the top of the list is because although I own the Space Jam Hare Jordan 1 and worn it a fair bit, the BRED just blew me away from the moment I slipped them on feet. I like my sneakers chunky and my favourite denim is the Levi’s 501 CT. And I have never found a sneaker that teams as brilliantly well with them denims! When I finally picked these kicks up, I ended up wearing them every single day for 3 weeks straight. Shout-out to my main man Gokul for helping me pick an additional pair.
So that is my line-up of the top 10 sneakers I picked up in 2016. How would you rank them? Let me know in the comments.
Here’s to 2017 being an absolute rocker of year for the sneaker and street wear culture worldwide, specifically in India.