Another year (almost) over, another banger-packed assortment of sneakers to slide our feet into. There have been monster releases with queues that have lasted days, unexpected collaborations that have blown our minds, and nice simple designs that have reminded us why we all got into trainers in the first place: they’re just easy, aren’t they?
Thousands of drops from the last 12 months have been whittled down to a final selection of FashionBeans’ favourite trainers of 2016. In no particular order, here they are.
BAIT x Diadora Shrek N9000
Yes, they are movie tie-ins. Yes, Diadora is what your mum used to buy you for school when you wanted Nikes. Yes, Bait is a funny word. But the Shrek N9000 continued the Italian label’s collaboration hot-streak, this time with Dreamworks and the cult West Coast retailer.
Adidas Gazelle GTX London
Designed in pillar box red and black to honour the British capital, the Gazelle London is thankfully kitted out in Gore-Tex tech, making it as waterproof as the name it bears requires. Even in suede, the shoes’ practicality stands out and the low-profile, lightweight structure retains all the support of an athletic shoe, giving you the best of both worlds.
Puma Clyde Select Away
A design that’s barely changed since it graced the oversized feet of NBA legend Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier in 1973, paired with a bit of gold-leaf on the signature. That’s all that was needed to make these navy trainers – usually such a hit and miss colourway – one of our favourites this year.
Nike Roshe LD 1000
Nike’s lifestyle runner, however controversially, made our list of the ugliest trainers ever made. So how does it appear here as well? Well, this shape is more of a hybrid of that and the Cortez, nicking the former’s construction and the latter’s lines. The result is a banger.
Adidas Skateboarding Busenitz Pro 10-Year Edition
Falling somewhere between a skate shoe and the Adidas Samba, The Busenitz is a trainer way too nice to pretend you can kickflip in.
Clarks Torcourt Super
Clarks Originals’ hurtle into trainer grail territory continued this year with the Torcourt Super. A stacked suede shape with tennis shoe styling and that trademark crepe sole make for a standout shoe that’s been cruelly overlooked by footwear fans.
Highsnobiety x Adidas Consortium Ultra Boost
In March, hype lifestyle publication HighSnobiety hooked up with Adidas to produce the kind of trainers Arnie’s Terminator would wear to his spin-class. A gunmetal knitted upper with a tonal leather lace cage is enough to make anyone say: “I need your clothes, your kicks and your motorcycle.”
Nike Air Max 97 Silver
The 20th anniversary re-release which all of your #GainsGoals are wearing on Instagram are sadly an Italian exclusive. Best book your flights now, then.
Ronnie Fieg Asics Gel Mai Militia
Ronnie Fieg’s friends-and-family issue Asics Gel Mai drop drove fans wild with jealousy in November, and rightly so. The hiking boot ropes, the gym shoe construction, the burnt orange pigskin suede. It was a hit through and through, but at just 750 pairs, was snapped up in no time at all.
Nike Air Max 95 W Multi Pony
*Plays Ginuwine on repeat.* The Air Max 95 is a classic straight from the brain of footwear designer Sergio Lozano, a man who went against all the designs that made Nike, well, Nike. The sneaker may have been ahead of its time when it was first introduced, but this version with the multi-coloured ponyhair detailing is pure 2016.
J.Crew x New Balance Moonshot 997
When J.Crew and New Balance first teamed up, the partnership marked one giant leap for trainer collaborations. Built to commemorate the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, this year’s Moonshot 997 drop offered enough luxe material to give any sneakerhead a real Buzz. Each pair even came vacuum-sealed in silver packaging, like the food astronauts eat in orbit. Only tastier.
Adidas Stan Smith Primeknit Wool
It would have been too easy to fill this list with all the models that received a Primeknit update this year. However, one kick stood head and shoulders ahead of the herd: the Stan Smith in wool. The design classic’s new standout upper in grey is tastefully contrasted with an off-white sole, making them easily the most wearable of 2016.
Adidas Moskva City Series
Say what you will about its foreign policy but Russia does inspire some pretty cool trainers. Turning a city into a shoe once again, Adidas paid tribute to Moscow with this beefed-up Gazelle profile. A white full-grain leather upper nods to the original colour of the Kremlin walls while the Gore-Tex construction makes it a winner for colder climates.
Beauty & Youth x Reebok Club C
Tokyo retailer Beauty & Youth’s take on the re-emerging Reebok Club C shoe is ultra-soft and incredibly wearable. There’s only one issue: that luxe off-white suede upper just begging to be ruined the first time you wear them.
Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2
Yeah, they’re a little weird looking, ugly even – it’s just a chunky stripe up the side of a plain old Adidas Boost. And yet here we are, how can you have an end of year list without them? It’s the most sought-after shoe of the last 12 months and it’s pretty much totally, totally awful. How dope is that?