October 3, 2012 BY Brendan Dunne
Our top 20 train is going to keep on chugging today, with the Sneaker News editors coming out from behind the scenes to a certain extent to shed a little bit of light on our own personal preferences and history when it comes to this whole footwear thing. Of course we’re doing so together with the folks over at Sneakerpedia, uploading the most prized items from our own collection onto their massive site, in turn helping to push them a bit closer towards that goal of creating the world’s definitive sneaker encyclopedia.
Fortunately for me I was put through a sort of mini-version of this test already in real life, having recently made a coast to coast move that forced me to shove the majority of my collection away into my brother’s closet and whittle things down to the bare essentials. In those moments of careful culling I was forced to put a fair amount of thought into creating some sort of Nick Hornby-esque desert island top five of sneakers. In the end that group isn’t exactly in line with this group, but they do share quite a few members. Click through as I take you through a journey of pairs, some left of field and some expected, that constitute my top 20 and please note that I’ll be taking on all trolls in the comments below. Just kidding. But seriously, check the list out.
20. Nike SB Air Zoom FC
The first pair of Nike SB’s I ever owned. Reflecting on these I am totally uncertain as to where exactly I picked them up because there were certainly no skate shops in my area at the time. If memory serves me I bought them up at some random discount style store at least a year after their initial release. I had my hands on the Barcelona colorway back in the day, one I unfortunately couldn’t locate for photos sake but I always had an eye for these ones too as they had that sort of ‘Vamp’ look them despite being a Manchester tie in.
Aside from being a special pair as my first ever Nike SB pick up, the Nike SB Air Zoom FC is one of many ‘event sneakers’ for me, pairs that will be forever tied to a certain happening or time period in my life. The event in question is a pretty embarrassing one so I won’t go too far into the details but it definitely involved me on stage with a microphone. I’m not sure what ever became of my Barcelona pair but they will forever remind me of that specific event and my beginnings with the Nike SB lineup.
19. Nike Roshe Run – Black/White
As John alluded to back in his top 20 it does feel a bit awkward giving up a slot to a silo so recently released, but if any model from the past couple of years deserves it then the Roshe is it for me. The sneaker was a sort of hard one to grasp at first, with the off feet shots that we initially got glances of not really doing it justice. In that context the sneaker sort of just sits there deflated, with that pliable upper awkwardly draped over the chunky outsole. But then you put them on or you see someone wearing them and it all makes sense, that lightweight design fills out and you can feel the crazy ventilation and all of a sudden you’re amazed that just picked them up for a measly $70 (or less if you’re lucky).
What’s more it was really cool how the shoe arrived, no early catalog shots if I remember correctly, no real release date, they just sort of popped up in stores and online and people had to figure it out for themselves how awesome they were without anyone really cramming it down their throats. I think Nike has caught on since then and I’m slightly nervous about what will happen to the sneaker next year given that side Swoosh looking 2013 prototype and the powerlines equipped ‘upgrade’ but at the very least I’ll have the original offering to remind me of this strange moment where a sneaker swerved around hype hysteria, showed up unannounced, and completely wowed people over. I’ve got a couple pairs but I went with the straightforward black and white for my selection here, it being the one I’ve gotten the most mileage out of to date. Also: if I can ever grab one like the pair above with a 3M Swoosh I will die of happiness.
18. Air Jordan XI ‘Cool Grey’
Let the hypebeast accusations begin. Obviously the Air Jordan XI is an incredible shoe. Obviously Tinker Hatfield changed the game with the whole luxury feel as applied to a basketball sneaker. After all, thousands of holiday shoppers and sneaker-forum posters couldn’t be wrong. The Air Jordan XI is on of those silhouettes that just refuses to be left out of the conversation, popping up once a year on everyone’s Christmas list and inevitably a couple sneaker-riot news reports as well.
And maybe it’s just me, but it’s not exactly an easy shoe to wear. All that shininess is more often than not too much for me to pull off, unless we’re talking about the ‘Cool Grey’ version. As you’ll see later on in this list, I’m really into grey-ed out sneakers in general, with this immortal Air Jordan XI colorway setting the bar pretty high as far as just how sublime the right set of greys can look on a sneaker. Yeah the OG colorups have all that historical significance that may resonate a bit more with some but I’ll take the ‘Cool Grey’ over pretty much of all those because I can slip them on without feeling like too much of a goofball.
17. Air Jordan VI ‘Infrared’
The run from Air Jordans III to right Around VI has to be the best in sneaker history, the front end of that series being a huge step up from the Air Jordan II (no offense to Peter Moore) and keeping MJ back around and the tail end being the first sneaker that he ever captured a championship in. While I think a lot of Air Jordan’s, and sneakers from that era at large, convey that 90’s aesthetic super well the Air Jordan VI is one that manages to still feel futuristic after all these years.
Maybe it’s the Huarache style innards, or the icy soles, or the higher hitting moon boot sort of silhouette, or maybe it’s just that all important Infrared color. How much does it say about the power of that singular shade that an innocent mis-labeling in the world of online sneaker folk will get you laughed out of the room?
16. Air Jordan III ‘Cool Grey’
I think that by now the ‘Cool Grey’ thing has definitely been done to death, with probably too many Air Jordan models picking up on that theme first established by the Air Jordan XI that’s a few spots back on this list. The one pair that I do think pulled it off the best though was this, the Air Jordan III ‘Cool Grey’ from back in 2007.
In general I love III’s so maybe I’m a bit biased but this pair had the right mixture of elements from the already established Cool Grey formula and new little details, namely the orange peel and sport red sections. What’s more I think it’s really hard for the Air Jordan III to look good sans the traditional leather approach but this was one of the few to do it. My pair has the dreaded paint chip situation going on on the midsoles at this point but I have the feeling I’ll be putting plenty more wear into them in the years to come.