The Best Sneakers of 2023

Here's where the Complex staff ranked the top sneaker drops this year.

Image via Complex

Before we get into the whole business of boldly telling you which are the best sneakers of 2023, let’s talk about how we got here. To start, we listed off around 20 sneakers that we felt were worthy of inclusion—the most exciting, interesting, and in some cases just the biggest. We referenced our mid-year best sneaker rankings to see what needed adjusting, shifting some and removing others that didn’t feel as exciting six months later. We excluded anything that didn’t actually release and couldn’t really be tested by the market. We culled the group down to 10 shoes, arguing to the bitter end about what’s good vs. what’s big, what’s actually wearable, and how much to factor in resale price (by the way, that’s never the sole determiner of ranking here, but we sometimes go to it as a tiebreaker). Then we realized that we were wrong.

No list is going to please everybody. But the early feedback on the first version of our picks for best sneakers—presented, as is tradition, at the Sneaker of the Year Panel at ComplexCon in Long Beach—had us thinking that maybe some of the selections were too cute. Maybe we were erring at times on the side of niche vs. what was really big in sneakers this year. Maybe nobody cares about the Nocta Glide. So we went back to our list, switched things around, let some others in and kicked others off, and came up with a new list.

We’re certain these changes won’t quiet all the critics, and that’s not what we’re here to do, but hopefully they result in a list that’s a little more reflective of our audience’s taste.

Now let’s talk about what’s not on here. There are no Nike Zoom Vomero 5s because, while that was a big shoe this year, it didn’t feel like any singular pair was significant enough to warrant inclusion. There are no Sambas for the same reason, although about half of our group was campaigning hard for the metallic silver Wales Bonner pair. Same goes for all those Y2K-style mesh running shoes—we’d actually included Aimé Leon Dore’s New Balance 860V2 on the version of the list presented at ComplexCon to represent that whole wave, but the feedback in the room was that the shoe wasn’t singularly meaningful enough to warrant the spot. There are no SB Dunks on here; the Jarritos faded pretty fast, and Born and Raised’s poignant release felt just outside of the bubble. The Cactus Plant Flea Market x Nike Air Flea 2 is a super-new shoe that could have landed on this list, but we’re still uncertain if it’s on the right side of ugly or funky.

But enough preamble. Here it is, our slightly revised, this time totally infallible list of the best sneakers of 2023. As always, your feedback is welcome.

10. Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 Low Women’s “Olive”

9. Jae Tips x Saucony Grid Azura 2000

8. Action Bronson x New Balance 990v6

7. Nike Air Force 1 Low “Terror Squad”

6. Nike Kobe 6 “Reverse Grinch”

5. J Balvin x Air Jordan 3

4. Tiffany & Co. x Nike Air Force 1 Low

3. Corteiz x Nike Air Max 95

2. Air Jordan 3 'Reimagined'

1. Nike SB x Air Jordan 4