Summer is nearly over. I felt like I needed to wear a jacket this morning. With that said, it’s been a cool summer in terms of sneakers. Or under the radar to be more precise. Trends have happened that no one saw coming. People latched onto sneakers they despise because of celebrity co-signs. Shoes unknown to the hype circlejerk became cool through collaboration with Virgil Abloh. (Funny how those things work). Summer’s also the time when the weather’s nice and people are tempted to wear their newest sneakers—or break out something they’ve been holding onto for a long time. With that said, summer doesn’t last forever and neither do trends. Some shoes catch a flame, get worn into the ground while the sun’s out, and then are retired once fall comes around. But which is the grandest of them all. The footwear anthem to the summer of 2019? Let’s take a look at it.
The one trend that no one saw coming was the return of ‘70s runners. Hate to say it, but it’s all thanks to the Sacai x Nike LDWaffle, which combines several prominent runners from that decade. Running shoes have always found their sweet spot in models first released in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Throw a few shoes from late ‘90s in the mix. Maybe a couple models from the early 2000s. But the shoes from the ‘70s missed the mark with running shoe enthusiasts. Maybe the soles were too thin or uppers too flimsy. And the shoes were only enjoyed by a niche, older crowd. That changed when Sacai put two soles, two Swooshes, two tongues, and two sets laces on a pair of ‘70s runners. I’ve already made the joke before, but it’s literally the Noah’s Ark of shoes. The original two colorways of the shoe also had two release dates: the first slated one and the day they actually came out. Nike’s also produced another two colorways of the shoes, which come in tonal grey and black. That makes two waves of the shoe to release. Also making it the sneaker version of JAY-Z’s 22 twos.
The Sacai x Nike shoe wasn’t the only ‘70s runner to get the high-end upgrade from the brand; the Undercover x Nike Daybreak, a futuristic version of an old sneaker, had its own moment, too. Some can debate that it was even more popular than the Sacais. Why? They weren’t as hype and were easier to get. More people got them. You saw them everywhere and Nike did four colorways of them, too. Resale wasn’t high. You could get them days after release. If they sold out, resale wasn’t crazy. It was a bit weird seeing people champion this shoe who would never wear it if it didn’t have Undercover branding and a Batman-like cage on the heel. But that’s a discussion for another day.
People even started to wear other ‘70s Nike runners like the Tailwind ‘79 and Daybreak because of this trend.
The summer wouldn’t be complete without Off-White x Nike collaborations. Two projects were released. One met with insane hype and fanfare, one for the ladies that went under the radar. During ComplexCon Chicago, Abloh released two, yes two, pairs of his MCA Air Force 1, an all-blue version very similar to the ones he made for the MoMa in New York City. Those look alright and are going for a cool few thousand bucks right now. The other sneaker came in the form of a three-colorway collection of a shoe that hypebeasts and assholes had never worn before: The Zoom Terra Kiger 5. And he made it with women in mind. Although men bought them, too. It was a trail running shoe complete with track spikes. A strange, brave look. You can currently get some of them for under retail, so you’ve probably seen people wear them out and about. Not a bad shoe, but it felt like we’re getting to the point where folks are only wearing it because it’s Off-White and it’s the one they can afford, rather than the one they are into.
Summer wouldn’t be summer without Travis Scott and his work with Jordan Brand. He just dropped a behind-the-scenes “documentary,” to use that term lightly. His Air Jordan 1s have been one of the most-hyped sneakers as of late, even if people were wary of a backwards Swoosh at first. They go for over $1,000 easily now. Can’t get those? People then went for his Air Jordan 1 Low. I personally liked it, but felt like people were being dishonest about liking that shoe. Believe it or not, I actually met with someone from Jordan Brand months and months ago and said the only Jordan sneaker I’d wear is a 1 Low. They looked at me confused, because no one likes that shoe. Now everyone is on it. You hate to see it. For what it’s worth, Eric Koston’s pair is cooler than Travis’ and we all know it.
The Adidas Ultra Boost is dead, but Nice Kicks made an attempt to bring it back and didn’t fail. Designed by former Jordan Brand guy Frank Cooke, their collaboration was a tie-dye shoe with a gum sole that was supposed to be for the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. That got canceled, but the shoe still came out. It’s easy to wear, good for summer. Got like 350 bucks? You can get a pair, too.
There was also a huge Yeezy restock that went down a few weeks ago. Everything from 750s to the Powerphase. As for Kanye West’s more recent sneaker drops? I think his Forbes article was bigger than actual releases.
Another women’s sneaker caught the hype wave as well. This time the “Black Toe” Air Jordan 1 got the “Satin” treatment. Guys and gals both wanted them. Bigger sizes are going for near $1,000 at this point. Not for me. I could care less about this shoe. It’s the same Jordan Brand has been churning and churning. Cool they did they it for the ladies, though. Let’s move on.
Cactus Plant Flea Market has been having a moment. Given that the brand got the ultimate co-sign by Pharrell Williams, as the designer used to be his assistant, it’s not hard to see why. They’ve done a couple Nike collabs recently. The VaporMax had a lot of people talking, which is hard because the VaporMax has no one talking. Throw some hype and a smiley face on it and give a light-up pair to LeBron James? Voila. They also did a Nike By You collection of Blazers. Some people are into them. They don’t matter to me.
So what’s the sneaker of the summer? If we have to give it one, just one, it would be Sacai x Nike LDWaffle. It was the shoe that ushered in a trend. Had more reach, signaled a change in the industry, and was something you could actually wear on a daily basis. And trust me, people did. Until next summer.