It’s time to get nostalgic.
The past 10 years have been good to sneakers. During the decade, musicians and entertainers became equally — if not, more — important to the landscape, lifestyle looks continued to be more sought after than performance models and a crop of forward-thinking designers continually pushed the envelope aesthetically. And although new brands entered the conversation, it was the giants that reigned supreme.
With the decade coming to a close, here are the top sneakers from each year since 2010.
2019: Sacai x Nike LDV Waffle
Although rap megastar Travis Scott had a tremendous year with his sought-after Jordan collaborations (most notably the Air Jordan 1 High), the Sacai x Nike LDV Waffle was the frontrunner for sneaker of the year. The silhouette masterfully blended retro aesthetics with modern styling and appealed to sneakerheads and the fashion-focused alike.
2018: Sean Wotherspoon x Nike Air Max 1/97
The year was great for sneakers. Several acclaimed styles hit stores such as the Nike Air Fear of God 1, Union x Air Jordan 1 High and the Nike React Element 87, but it was the Sean Wotherspoon x Nike Air Max 1/97 that created the most noise. Seemingly everyone interested in sneakers wanted a pair and to this day it’s a hot item on the secondary market (it’s selling for as much as $1,400 on StockX).
2017: Virgil Abloh x Air Jordan 1 “The Ten”
Some of the decade’s best sneakers dropped in 2017. Nike delivered most of the top looks including the VaporMax and the Mars Yard Shoe 2.0, and Adidas and Kanye West delivered the Yeezy Boost 700 “Wave Runner.” But the most notable sneaker — and FN’s Shoe of the Year winner — was the Virgil Abloh x Air Jordan 1 “The Ten.” Abloh told FN that the shoe was special because of the freedom Nike let him have with the iconic silhouette. “Nike is progressive. They easily could have been like, ‘Don’t do this. You can’t have the heel counter exposed — that needs to be covered.’ Instead, they said, ‘We did a collaboration to find new space,’” Abloh said.
2016: Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 “Beluga”
The Kanye West designed sneaker is time-tested, with new colorways of the silhouette still being produced three years after its retail debut. And the debut “Beluga” colorway specifically was a hit with sneakerheads and stood out in a year that featured other gems such as the Nike Air Presto Mid x Acronym and the Nike Kyrie 2 “Ky-Rispy Kreme.”
2015: Adidas Yeezy Boost 350/750
West’s shoes with Adidas dominated the sneaker conversation in 2015 (and were also named FN’s Shoe of the Year). After defecting from Nike in 2013, the first looks to drop with the Three Stripes featured its latest Boost cushioning platform paired with bold uppers (most notably the ultra-high 750 with an eye-catching strap). The rapper-turned-designer’s creations became an instant hit — especially the “Turtle Dove” colorway of the Yeezy Boost 350.
2014: Nike Air Yeezy 2 “Red October”
Arguably the most hyped sneaker of the decade is also one of the best of 2014. Fans clamored for the shoe throughout 2013, and when West parted ways with Nike, many doubted the shoe would ever come out. The “Red October” eventually came out in February 2014 in limited numbers and sells on the resale market today for as much as $12,000.
2013: Air Jordan 1 “Black/Royal”
Although the year featured acclaimed Ronnie Fieg collabs and several Jordan retro releases, the return of the Air Jordan 1 “Black/Royal” in its original form was well-received and the sneaker collectors wanted more than any other in 2013. (If you’re still looking for a pair, they can still be found on the resale market with somewhat modest pricing.)
2012: Nike Roshe Run
The Nike Roshe Run was affordable, comfortable and looked good on. While hype sells sneakers and typically something that’s readily available means it’s probably not cool, the silhouette checked all the important boxes and was universally loved at the time, making it an easy selection for the top sneaker of 2012.
2011: Ronnie Fieg x Asics Gel Lyte III “Salmon Toe”
It wasn’t his first collaboration, but it was the one that marked the opening of Kith close to a decade ago. Ronnie Fieg made just 72 pairs of the shoe, which is currently selling for $1,500 on the secondary market — far more than the $130 they sold for in 2011. The much-hyped shoe went on to become a certified icon in sneaker history and helped solidify Fieg as a sneaker collaboration legend.
2010: Nike LeBron 8 “South Beach”
Nike has laced hoops icon LeBron James with some of the best basketball sneakers of all time since he first stepped on an NBA court in 2003, and one of the greatest looks is the LeBron 8 “South Beach.” Despite the villain status King James garnered for leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat in the 2010 offseason, the look was beloved by almost everyone who enjoys sneakers.