Let’s be honest, 2017 hasn’t been a good year for many things. Economy = bad, sexism = bad, Donald Trump vs North Korea = apocalyptically bad. Humanity’s collective failings might have been all too great in 2017, but comfortingly the year did at least produce a bumper crop of sweet kicks.
If you weren’t one of the masses that camped out at the crack of dawn, sharp elbows (and occasionally fists) at the ready for the coolest new trainers, fear not, we’ve documented all of the best drops of 2017. Getting a firm foothold this year, we saw innovative new technologies, (more) retro throwbacks and a trend for chunky, ugly sneakers that has yet to go away. These were the greatest feats in footwear.
Hummel Marathona BLU
Nostalgia is nothing new in footwear, but 2017 got on a retro flex in a big way. Getting in on the action, Hummel dug into its archives to re-release its Marathona trainer, which first appeared in the eighties.
“The colour blocking and choice of silhouette give it the true retro look for those on the hunt for a less contemporary trainer,” says Patrick Dempsey of SneakerGrandpa. Like the best of this year’s revivals, it’s big on throwback love but low on bad taste with its mixed material upper comprising white and black leather and sky blue nylon panels.
Adidas Futurecraft 4D
Few trainers can actually claim to be revolutionary (though many will try) but Adidas’ Futurecraft 4D model boasts a 3D printed sole, which gives them genuine game-changer bragging rights. Futuristic tech specs aside, the geometric green soles paired with black knitted uppers make for an eye-friendly combo that will work with everything in your wardrobe. A limited release this year will be followed by much wider production in 2018.
“Their instant popularity stands to reason,” says Dempsey. “If you make something with a limited release and a futuristic aesthetic, there’s an increased potential for resale value and (of course) people will clamour for it.” We can hear the stampede already.
Titolo X Diadora Intrepid Five Almonds
Men’s pastels have have become a rare(ish) sight in 2017, but when Italian sportswear label Diadora and Swiss sneaker boutique Titolo put their heels together to produce the ‘Five Almonds’ trainers, ice-cream shades suddenly got seriously wearable again.
“It simply encapsulates sneaker culture at its most fundamental level, a limited release in a colourway you aren’t going to see on another sneaker this season, which makes it incredibly appealing,” says Callum Hill, merchandise director at retailer Soleheaven. “With releases like this it isn’t just the sneaker itself that people buy into, it’s the story and heritage of the brands which have worked together to create it.”
Premium suede makes this pair even more lustworthy. The delicate fabric means they’re probably not that practical, but when they look this good, who are we to quibble?
Nike Silver Bullet
Riffing on the instantly recognisable Nike Air Max 97 design, the Silver Bullet update took inspiration from Japan’s bullet train and – much like the efficiency of the service itself – sold out in minutes.
A silver bullet in the quest for the ultimate men’s trainer? Perhaps not, but it’s a pretty good shot. Expect lots more colourways to follow this one next year.
Reebok Exofit Lo Clean Vintage ‘Chalk’
2017 was the year that in-your-face design became hotter currency than bitcoin. In the world of men’s trainers, Reebok’s aptly named Exofit Lo Clean Vintage ‘Chalk’ was a welcome break from all that retina-searing colour.
Tonal cream and white with sparingly applied blue branding, this pair mashed up minimalism with retro design to create something you’d get a lot of wear from, says Hill. “The Chalk colourway isn’t going to clash with anything in your wardrobe, making it an easy choice every day of the week.”
Asics x Wood Wood Gel DS H7EVK-1512
Once beloved by dads and fashion-phobes, Asics has climbed the trainer brand pecking order and ended up on some of menswear’s most sartorially-savvy feet.
This year, a collaboration with Copenhagen’s Wood Wood took menswear world domination one well-shod step further with the Gel DS H7EVK-1512, when it rocked up looking like what would happen if the ugly trainer trend simmered down a bit and hit the sweet spot between style and function.
New Balance 995 ‘Rust’
New Balance trainers are notoriously loved by hipsters and homebodies alike thanks to their unpretentious, normcore aesthetic. So, when the New Balance 995 ‘Rust’ dropped we were shook by their rich, reddish colourway, which puts them firmly in statement shoe territory.
Featuring a streamlined silhouette, crafted in soft suede and – in our opinion – one the classiest ways to wear colour on your trotters, these bronzed beauties bucked this year’s trend for ironically ugly trainers.
Balenciaga Triple S Sneaker
A tidal wave of tasteful minimalism may have engulfed the world of trainers for the past few years, but in 2017 some of the most-hyped kicks kicked back and put intentionally brash designs on the feet of men with otherwise impeccable taste.
The best example was Balenciaga’s Triple S Sneakers, which went big on proportions and colour but inexplicably didn’t look gross. Very far from it, in fact.
Nike x Acronym Lunar Force 1
In 2017, hybrids were hot property (see Vetements x everybody) and fittingly the Nike x Acronym Lunar Air Force 1s offer up not just one, but two hybrids.
The shoes mark German streetwear brand Acronym’s first footwear collab with Nike and combine an Air Force 1 upper with a Lunar sole and full zip opening. These trainers well and truly mixed it up, and it worked.
Nike Mayfly Woven
Fully woven uppers melded to thick rubber soles make for a Marmite pair of trainers: you’ll either love them or wouldn’t let your worst enemy wear them. This year, Nike’s Mayfly woven trainers flipped the script with the weave offering points of interest rather than hogging the whole upper.
A little bit biblical, a little bit hi-tech, these trainers made woven runners infinitely more wearable.
Vans x N. Hoolywood Slip-On
Vans classic checkerboard slip-ons were at the feet of any self-respecting alternative adolescent in the noughties. So Vans’ collaboration with N.Hoolywood was welcome news to grown men who weren’t ready to give up their skater status.
Keeping the signature checkerboard motif intact but swapping canvas for premium suede, this was the year your teenage kicks finally grew up.
PUMA x Overkill Disc Blaze Pfeffiboys
The second of two collaborations between German brand Overkill and sports footwear stalwart Puma saw an already fruitful partnership get even more heart-quickening with the release of the Pfeffiboys.
Inspired by Pfeffi (Berlin’s favourite liquor, apparently) these trainers didn’t bring to mind boozy nights but we detected more than a strong whiff of Back To The Future. And anything with Marty McFly vibes is fine by us.
Gucci has pretty much locked out the competition for good when it comes to horsebit loafers. Now, its trainers are inching towards cult status too.
The premise of a tennis shoe which is updated each year with different motifs and colourways sounds simple, but 2017’s crop of Gucci Aces are anything but #basic. One-part menswear, one-part sportswear, one-part minimalism: it’s a trainer holy trinity.
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star ’70 Woven High
Every year is a good year for Converse Chuck Taylors, which seem to be practically welded to the general public’s feet. Tampering with a classic is a risky move but it paid off in the Chuck Taylor All Star ‘70, high-tops which came complete with a textural woven upper.
“The profile of the Chuck Taylor All Star ‘70 is a timeless one – it’s recognised all around the world and with good reason,” says Hill. “2017 has been another big year for the model, especially with the update of a woven upper, which has been a nice addition that gives the minimal silhouette a little added texture.”
It was a subtle switch up, but it did mean that fewer men were (probably) trainer twinning with their teenage sister.
Common Projects Achilles Retro Suede
Common Projects has become a by-word for men with great taste, deep pockets and, until now, minimalism. The painfully cool brand’s spring/summer trainer drop saw more colour than ever before, with a number of bang-on-trend earth tones offered up.
Our favourite? The seventies-tastic Achilles Retro in tan suede. Discreet luxury trainers just got a little louder.