The 25 Coolest Sneakers in Russ Bengtson's Office

How a sneaker editor does it.


During my first semester of graduate school at the University of Delaware, I made the curious decision to deliver a lecture on the cultural importance of the adidas Mutombo. My musings, since published in Sneaker Freaker, required innovative research. I had a pair tested in a conservation lab to ascertain each and every material used and spent hours pouring through Sports Illustrated microfilm. (This all happened before widespread digitization).

While these steps were useful in establishing concrete facts about the shoe, I needed narrative. I needed an expert. I needed advice from Russ Bengtson.

A UD alum himself, Bengtson answered a wide range of questions with deft wit and uncanny critical acumen. Unlike other self-proclaimed "sneaker experts," Bengtson's understanding of cultural context extends beyond the odd rap cover or lyrical reference. He champions technological innovation and boasts an archive of truly important footwear. He understands exactly what it is to be a connoisseur. (For the record, most "sneaker experts" haven't a fucking clue).

Mr. Bengtson no longer owns a pair of Mutombos [Yes I do! Er, somewhere. —RB] . He does, however, have 25 really cool pairs of shoes in his office. Today is also his birthday. —NICK SCHONBERGER

25. Newton Distancia

24. Nike Air Force 1 Low (1990)

23. adidas ObO Jeremy Scott JS Bear

22. Nike Air Force II High

21. Nike Air Revolution

20. UNDRCRWN x adidas TS Lightspeed

19. Puma R698 "Classic Kicks"

18. Nike LeBron 8 "112"

17. Nike Lunar FlyKnit HTM NRG

16. Nike McEnroe

15. Nike Free Run iD

14. Nike Air Tailwind 79 VTGE QS

13. Footpatrol x Reebok Classic Workout Plus 25th Anniversary

12. Nike Air Force Operate Zach Randolph PE

11. Nike Air Ace

10. Nike HTM FlyKnit Racer NRG

9. Supreme x Vans Half Cab "20th Anniversary"

8. Nike Air Ship

7. adidas Superstar "Icons"

6. Nike Zoom LeBron II "SVSM Home"

5. Nike Air Force 1 High "Sheed"

4. Reebok Question (Original Sample)

3. Air Jordan Retro 1

2. Nike Air Force Zero

1. Air Jordan Retro XI Deion Sanders PE