Amid a fast-paced news cycle, not every shoe is able to cut through the noise. However, certain styles managed to dominate online and national discourse this year — whether due to political statements or eccentric appearances.
Below, FN takes a look back at the shoes everyone couldn’t stop talking about in 2019.
In October, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based creative label MSCHF released Nike Air Max 97s with actual holy water in them — and the Jesus Shoes were born. The statement-making kicks sold for a whopping $1,425 at retail and were going for more than double that amount on Stockx.com the week of their release. The internet-breaking concept — which was the seventh most-Googled shoe of 2019 — was meant as a statement on “collab culture,” according to MSCHF head of commerce Daniel Greenberg.
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Betsy Ross Nikes
This July, Nike pulled its Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July, citing concerns about the symbolic connection to slavery of the original American flag (commonly known as the “Betsy Ross flag”) featured on the shoes. The move ignited a national conversation, resulting in praise from activists as well as backlash from Republican elected officials. Ex-NFLer Colin Kaepernick, who began the controversial kneeling movement in 2016 and currently works as a Nike brand ambassador, reportedly played an instrumental role in Nike’s decision not to sell the kicks.
Leave it to Kanye West to create a viral moment. When images hit the internet this September of the Yeezy Foam Runner, netizens were quick to compare the shoes to Crocs. Reactions to the product, which has yet to release, were mostly negative, with Twitter users dubbing them “ugly monster looking shoes” and “s*** trash.” West’s wife, Kim Kardashian, seems to be a fan of the shoes, however. She’s sported them on Instagram multiple times, to mixed reaction from her followers.
Yeezy “Jail Slides”
The Yeezy “Crocs” weren’t the only West-designed product to go viral this year. The rapper turned designer’s kids’ sandal slides were compared by netizens to “prison shower shoes” and “tortillas” after Kardashian posted an Instagram story showing them off. Even Snoop Dogg got in on the fun. The hip-hop legend weighed in on an Instagram post of the shoes, writing: “[Kardashian] been getting dudes out of jail, now [West] gone sell jail slippers. W.T.F. None of my bidness.”
Gucci Screener Shoes
Gucci’s spring ’19 Screener sneakers sent Twitter into a frenzy. The shoes come in the Italian label’s signature red and green, with its logo printed on the back. What turned the sneakers into a viral moment — rather than standard Gucci fare — was their distressed finish, with scuff marks and discolorations. Netizens were skeptical of the high price tag (around $1,000) that accompanied the already-dirty shoes.
Luke Combs x Crocs
Crocs had a number of high-profile collaborators in 2019, from Post Malone to Barneys New York to Kiss. But the buzziest of all was the clog maker’s team-up with country star Luke Combs. “Luke Combs Crocs” was the No. 1 shoe-related Google search of 2019. Combs and Crocs actually partnered twice this year, first on a wood grain-like clog and then on a camo, hunting-themed style, which came complete with a bottle opener.
Margiela “Goat” Shoes
Maison Margiela’s Tabi split-toe shoes were the talk of the internet this January, thanks to Cody Fern. The actor wore Tabi boots on the red carpet at the 2019 Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards. Despite the headlines, the internet-dubbed “goat” shoes aren’t actually new to 2019. The silhouette has been around for 30 years and was a favorite of ’00s “It” girls like Chloë Sevigny.