October 1, 2012 BY Aaron Kr.
10- Nike SB Air Trainer 2
The Nike Air Trainer II has kind of a confusing backstory and I’m not even gonna front like I have a complete grasp of it, but what I do know is, as a longtime appreciator of the early Nike cross-trainers, no one was happier than me when this model was surprisingly resurrected as part of the Nike SB line during the gold box era. Despite more than a few very solid colorways and even the added push of a 4-shoe Supreme collab, the model never really seemed to catch on and eventually fell back into obscurity.
I picked up just about every colorway of the Trainer 2 that dropped and most of them on the cheap too. I’m glad no one liked them because it made it so easy to get my hands on them all, but on the flipside, it’s a brutal shame that they didn’t sell well enough to warrant more releases. They might be number 10 on this list, but I don’t know if there can possibly be nine shoes that I like better on my feet than these heavenly specimens.
9- Asics Gel Saga II
I’ve always had quite the soft spot for classic Asics runners and it was a tough choice whether it would be the Saga II or Gel Lyte III to rep for the brand in this spot. I went with the Saga II for its slightly better comfort and the little bit of extra chunk that’s missing from the slimmer profile of the GL3. Not much needed to say about it that you can’t see for yourself with one look. Simply said, just a flawless suede/mesh runner with infinite colorway applications.
It was like a personal bonanza for me last year when Asics brought back some OG colorways, but it was beyond frustrating to see my favorite of them all, the grey/royal/orange inexplicably produced with white suede instead of grey. If anyone at Asics is listening, please right this wrong and give us that shoe in its true intended form.
8- Nike Air Classic BW “Persian Violet”
The summer before 7th grade, I played on a soccer team that got to go to Holland to play in a tournament there. We were unfortunately a few years too young to comprehend the true wonders offered by the city of Amsterdam, but still managed to have a blast when we weren’t being mercilessly slaughtered on the football pitch by our European peers. Thanks to the ravages of age and some international hatecrimes I sustained to the head while playing in the tourney, I only have a few lasting memories of the trip. My friends and I fought off lanky Dutch street thugs who tried to rob us while in Amsterdam. I bought the Euro cassette version of Metallica’s black album the day it released and listened to it on my Walkman for the whole trip, and even though I wanted to hate it, I had no choice but to love it. And lastly, I saw some kid wearing a sneaker that blew my mind.
I didn’t even know what it was until a few months later when it released in the States. The shoe I saw turned out to be the Air Max BW in the iconic Black/White/Persian Violet colorway. To look at the BW now, it doesn’t appear all that mindblowing, but at the time, I assure you that it looked like something that was brought back from outerspace. It had a huge Swoosh and a huge Air bag, and the black/white contrast on the color-blocking was like nothing the sneaker game had ever seen. I will say though, that while I love the BW on multiple levels, like the Trainer Max 91 mentioned earlier, there have really never been any other colorways of this model (aside from the Stash pair) that ever seemed worthwhile to me. This pair is from the Asia-only drop a few years back, and as you can see, they’ve yellowed on me in a few spots.
7- Nike Air Force 1 Low
There are Dunk people and there are Air Force 1 people. You can definitely have an appreciation for both, but when it boils down to it, most of us are involuntarily either one or the other by some force of nature. I’ve definitely always been firmly on the AF1 side of the fence, and in fact, there were some pretty long stretches of my life when AF1 Lows were pretty much all I bought and wore for literally months and sometimes years at a time. There have been so many great colorways over the years that it’s pretty tough to pick just one to represent a shoe I’m so fond of.
My all-time favorite is the Stash Low and I’m embarrassed to say that I somehow don’t currently own a pair to show you here. I think number 2 would have to be these waterproof olive/gum stunners from a few years ago. Maybe not the sexiest of choices in the hallowed pantheon of AF1 releases, but sexy is in the eye of the beholder and these are right up there with best colorways ever to touch the shoe in these eyes. Honorable mention goes to the Mita’s, another one that’s right up there at the top of my list.
6- New Balance 1300 “Steel Blue”
If you’ve been reading all this, you’ve heard me pine away about the ability of certain color schemes to magically bring a shoe to life, so be warned that it’s about to happen again. The New Balance 1300 might be the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever had on my feet, but that’s hardly why it’s this high on my list. The “Steel Blue” 1300 is elegant subtlety embodied. Each color choice is so carefully selected right down to the slightest of tints that it gives a blue/grey shoe elements of depth and character that should not be achievable by the standard laws of color physics.
Every hue plays its part and comes together gloriously for the freshest pair of New Balance’s I’ve ever seen. These re-release every so often and even though there have been some slight variations over the years, they still seem to capture the essence and somehow get it right every time. Kudos to New Balance for whatever voodoo is at play here, and just know that I like it.