Look, I’ll level with you: the trainers you’re about to look at don’t feature a whole lot of variation. I could’ve, though, just for the sake of it. I really could’ve run through the full gamut, the entire spectrum of footwear and thrown in a few eye-popping shit-slappers just to give you a bit of aesthetic variation. But I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to stay true.
There’s a lot of grey and white in here. That’s because the best trainers are, invariably, grey and white. There are deviations, but they are often the exceptions that prove the rule. These are the best trainers of the year in my own, inevitably-biased opinion. But, the other thing is, I’m never wrong.
adidas Iniki Runner
Taking elements of the iconic runner designs found throughout adidas’ considerable archive and injecting them with all of the tech available to the Three Striper boys, the Iniki’s pleasingly trapezoid silhouette was interesting enough for the heads while remaining wearable enough for the people who just want a pair of comfy trainers, please.
Tom Sachs x Nike MarsYard 2.0
An early front-runner for our favourite trainer of the year, the MarsYard 2.0 were predictably hard to get hold of, especially with the shoe-box’s hand-scrawled demand: “These shoes are only valid if worn, and worn to death, by you.”
Balenciaga Triple S
Yes. The ugly trainer. The ugliest, expensivest trainer of the year. And yet I’m into it. It’s dumb: I know that it’s all a construct, that spending that much money on something that looks a bit crap and claiming that “that is the point” is about as dickhead a thing as is possible to do, but… I can’t help it. The shapes are incongruous, the colours a creepy melange of primary, and the sole takes the trapeziuminess of the Iniki and makes it look somewhere between a trotter and a shoe that is simply broken but… Yeah, into it.
Zara Multi Piece
Which brings us to the copies. I’m all for the creative interpretation of intellectual property for profit, especially when it’s an extremely cheap trainers doing so at the expense of an extremely expensive trainer that tries to look like an extremely cheap trainer. The Zara Multi Piece is actually a lot softer than the Triple S, with lines that make much more geometric sense, but the fact that it dared to riff on such a huge shoe marks it out as a trainer with big ol’ balls.
Nike Air Max 97 Premium
The gold and silver variants of Air Max 97 – which enjoyed its not at all coincidental 20th anniversary relaunch this year – were killers in the first-chance and resell markets but it was the quieter premium colourway of silver, wolf grey, and a kind of greyish-blue that won me over. Mostly because every single really awful person who hangs out at Netil 360 owns a pair of the gold and silver. You don’t want to be like them.
Golf Le Fleur x Converse One Star
I don’t wear many colourful trainers but it was nice seeing a pair of non-Chuck Taylor Converses cut through. The One Star has always been an underrated arm (leg?) of the footwear giant’s range, and a collaboration with Tyler the Creator’s Golf Le Fleur provided just the right amount of fun and cultural cachet to drag it front and centre in the popular consciousness. Went over an absolute treat after its summertime release.
adidas Climacool 2
When I was growing up, Climacools were always worn by the coolest (read: youngest) male PE teacher and particularly discerning drug dealers, but after another well-timed adidas rerelease, they’ve been reborn in my mind as not only one of the most comfortable and breathable sneakers in existence but also ones that look a bit like the exoskeleton of some sort of unidentified monster dug up out of some rocks in Peru. Pretty much all you can ask for from a new (old) trainer, I guess.
J.Crew x Nike Killshot 2
These were so nice they made me have sort-of a breakdown. Go figure.
New Balance 574S
A shape that’s a lot sportier than a lot of the New Balance styles we favour at ShortList, the 574S gets a pass on comfort (the shoe has untold compression zones for near-unparalleled stability) and its geometric midsole patterning: there were many to choose from but we went for the French flag vibe, just because it makes us feel dead classy.
Packer x J. Crew x Asics GEL-LYTE III
Another collaborative hit from J. Crew, this time taking the good from leather daddies Packer and the split-tongue dons at Asics. The GEL-LYTE III is a faithful favourite silhouette of ours, and this shoe’s heritage, pops of raw leather, premium suedes, and block-colour midsoles puts it up with the best they’ve done so far (and one we exclusively announced this past September).
Puma x Han Kjobenhavn Blaze Cage
They look like they’re made of marshmallow and that if you wore them once they would get so ruined you’d actually start to cry, but as long as you only wear them in the space-white galleries of Copenhagen or at home in bed in your brand new sheets, they will stay as perfect and pristine as the heads at Puma and Han, in Germany and Denmark, intended. Plus, any trainer that features a pistachio colour panel is doing alright by me.
Reebok Revenge Plus TRC
Half-adidas Samba, half-Reebok NPC, this is the bargain trainer we told you to buy this Christmas. If you messed up and forgot, that’s on you.
This one’s even more like a Samba but isn’t. I just really like Sambas, gum soles, adidas archive trainers that dads get very angry about people under 35 wearing (“If yer ain’t watched Hill Street Blues, yer ain’t allowed to wear ‘em”), and hairy suede. “Hairy suede” is easily my favourite material that also sounds like a niche PornHub search term.
It’s just a plain white tennis sneaker (albeit a very nice one) but it’s about more than that: Nike’s Flyleather could signal the future of footwear manufacture as we know it (and go a little way towards helping save the environment, too). They probably won’t… but the fact that it’s even a possibility is unquestionably great. Read more about it here.