The 25 Best Sneaker Releases of the 2017 (So Far)

2017, already halfway in the books? Fight as we might, it’s a reality as the first half of the year has already flown by.

While only half the story has been told, it’s been an interesting year as it’s been less defined by a genre trend (see: lifestyle running in 2016, bulky basketball shoes in years prior) but more by a mix of top shelf collabs and the most basic of staples juxtaposing news feeds and spending choices. Some may say there’s been something for everyone this year, others may argue there’s been next to nothing new.

So, in the mixed bag that’s been the last six months of sneaker releases which shoes rank the best to us and why? Check out selections below and let us know your personal picks in the comments section.

25. VLONE x NikeLab Air Force 1

VLONE x Nike Air Force 1
photo by @malambert

The Air Force 1 is back or the Air Force 1 never left? It depends who you ask, but if you ask us, the shoe hasn’t been an event or a must-have since the youngsters in Harlem who run street fashion revised it. The VLONE x NikeLab Air Force 1 is a major moment as it provided proper co-sign to a borough that’s brought it from Day 1 while doing so with a designer younger than the silo itself. For the better part of this decade, the A$AP Mob has been moving the needle in style since Bari was making Toast to the God Customs and Rocky was co-signing fellow young creatives from the city. This time around it’s official and it’s in house. – Ian Stonebrook

24. adidas Iniki

adidas Iniki
photo by @francothehuman

No one will confuse the Iniki Runner as a hyped release selling out at every possible retailer. But the affordable inline shoe that blends heritage-based design cues with modern-day technology is about as consistent and versatile as any adidas shoe this year. Moving to both men and women and to fans of all ages, the Iniki Runner isn’t exactly turning the sneaker world on its head, but it’s certainly a powerhouse in its own right. – Darren Griffin

23. Defcon x Vans Sk8-Hi

photo by @dustya55

Anytime Vans teams up with Defcon, fittingly, all the soldiers fall in line. This is a traditional collab, one with some legs and history behind it. It’s latest installment from May was undeniably one of the better co-branded drops. – Darren Griffin

22. Gucci Ace “Snake”

photo via @luxurylife_635

When the curtains opened on 2017, no one thought that Gucci would have one of the best new sneakers of the year. But they do, and the Ace is the favored shoe of both the Hollywood stud and the streetwear heads. We don’t see that changing much over the next six months. – Darren Griffin

21. Nike Cortez

photo via @nutshellstore

Nike’s rollout of the Cortez for its 45th anniversary couldn’t have gone any smoother. They’ve brought back the “Forrest Gump,” served up a few other OGs, and funneled the shoe into a fashion staple for men and women similar to the road taken by the Stan Smith upon its re-emergence. And with a Flyknit version on the way, things are definitely looking up for the west coast lifestyle staple. – Darren Griffin

20. Supreme x Nike Air More Uptempo

Supreme x Nike Air More Uptempo
photo by @brillant.sch

The Nike Air More Uptempo is an icon in any era, but the allure of the chase made the bold model a sellout hit on its third retro run in 2016. Multiplying the variables of scarcity and brashness, the Supreme collaboration of 2017 is a standout in every sense and one of the most coveted kicks of the year. As both brands navigate mainstream growth from the top of the totem pole, limited launches like these will always preserve their cool cache. – Ian Stonebrook

19. New Balance 247 Luxe

photo by @ryanswanger

New Balance was in dire need of a hit earlier this year. Bad press has stifled the brand, and the home run that was the 247 literally saved their season. The Luxe edition stands as the better of the whole, brimming with premium updates and endless functionality. You should definitely have a pair in rotation for summer. – Darren Griffin

18. Nike Air Zoom Generation “First Game”

photo by @j_napoleon_

Seven years ago, Nike released the “South Beach” LeBron 8 shortly after King James shocked the world with his move to Miami. The limited launch put performance basketball into the lifestyle realm with countless colorways of signature shoes sold in bunches for the next few years to come. Five months ago, the two parties released their first tandem retro release: the “First Game” Nike Air Zoom Generation. Different market, different trends, it’s tough to tell whether these were too soon, too late, or even both. Regardless, the first retro LeBron is a rare wear in 2017 and could prove the most significant sneaker of the pack five years from now. – Ian Stonebrook

17. Peanuts x Vans Collection

photo by @rayp_photos

Following collaborations with KAWS and Uniqlo, the Peanuts stepped into the streetwear limelight when they joined forces with Vans this spring. The collection, highlighted by the Charlie Brown Old Skools, was full of vibrance and animated playfulness that has a place in sneakers. We’re hoping to see more collaborations like this one with similar execution. – Darren Griffin

16. Don C x Air Jordan 2 “Arctic Orange”

photo via @nicekicks

Kanye’s camp is running footwear in 2017 with Yeezys still dominating mainstream chase in official and fugazi fashion and Virgil damn near refiguring the entire Nike archive. While Mr. West’s fresh friends range from Ibn Jasper to Ian Connor, Don C has been and always will be the resident sneakerhead in the crew. A legit sports fan with an athletic appreciation of high fashion, his Chanel channeling Air Jordan 2s have been a big deal each year they’ve dropped with the “Arctic Orange” iteration perhaps the best. Yes, the price hurts, but one Google shopping search of its inspiration puts it into a bit of perspective.  – Ian Stonebrook

15. Nike KDX

photo via @slamkicks

The Nike KDX had a special debut on the feet of Kevin Durant in Game 1 of the NBA Finals where he put on an amazing show in Oakland. The shoe continues with the successful parts of the KD 9 with a full-length visible Nike Zoom cushioned ride but a much more finished upper that stands out from the rest of the basketball section of the shoe wall. – Matt Halfhill

14. Coogi x PUMA Clyde

Coogi x PUMA Clyde
photo by @rayp_photos

PUMA and Coogi linked for an epic collaboration bringing together the iconic pattern to the timeless PUMA Clyde. Paying homage to one of NYC’s greatest, two of the drops fell on the anniversaries of the birth and tragic passing of Notorious BIG paying respect to the legend. Around the country you saw solid story telling paying respect to the best to ever wear the Coogi sweater. – Matt Halfhill

13. adidas Pure Boost DPR

photo by @fabiopais

If you weren’t a fan of the burrito tongue of the new Pure Boost, great news, the DPR is the answer. The Adidas Pure Boost DPR is without question the best fitting Adidas Boost running shoe to date with a deeper fit in the heel, a slightly wider forefoot and much more stability in the heel than the Ultraboost. Priced at $150, this shoe was a definite grab for those looking for a pair of Boost to keep them moving. – Matt Halfhill

12. Nike Air Max 1 OG

photo by @glackster

This shoe needs no introduction when released, but it was really nice to see Nike take the time to bring back and engineer materials as close to the Original from 1987 as we have ever seen. This year’s Nike Air Max 1 OG really lives up to its name more than ever. – Matt Halfhill

11. Alexander Wang x adidas Collection

photo via @supplystudio.ldn by @mearakallista

Trends move at a million miles an hour and designer steeze is flavor of the month. While Alexander Wang’s peak popularity in a streetwear sense may have come a few years back, let’s not get it twisted — this guy is really, really good. He proved that on the footwear front in 2017 with a range of heaters with adidas Originals. Drapey, gender neutral sweats and soccer uniforms bared inverted branding and stayed true to the T line launcher. Still, his re-imagination of the basketball and skate sneakers were the greatest triumph for the designer that claims NYC as home. – Ian Stonebrook

10. Parley x adidas Ultra Boost

Parley x adidas Ultra Boost
photo by @rayp_photos

Trash to treasure? That’s exactly what Parley does. It is impossible to not celebrate a shoe that pulls 17 bottles from the ocean per pair made while also spreading an “earth first” message to the masses. Parley x adidas is one of the greatest partnerships for not only great looking shoes, but shoes that really make a difference on our planet. – Matt Halfhill

9. NikeLab Zoom Fly SP

photo via @blog.mhss

Adidas has more than shaken up the performance running scene from a mainstream sense, but don’t expect Nike to rest on their laurels. While Air Max Day saw Boost buyers become NikeBoyz, the most compelling story out of the Swoosh camp was their Breaking 2 documentary. Performance first, style second, it was the first time since Lunar launched that mileage seemed more important than marketing. Appealing to Ekins by toting tech and cool guy flair, the NikeLab Zoom Fly SP is the sleeper shoe of the year by bridging the gap between style and speed. In a market running away from retro and getting back to innovation these are it. – Ian Stonebrook

8. Nike Air VaporMax

Nike Air VaporMax
photo via @curly_paups

Nike went all out to introduce the Nike Air Vapormax for this year’s Air Max Day. The shoes bring the concept of walking on air to new levels with something far better than any 360 Max Air we have ever seen. As awesome as the ride is, don’t sleep on the Flyknit upper that looks solid with simple branding and design. – Matt Halfhill

7. Vetements x Reebok Instapump Fury

photo via @polyzayka

Since hitting the scene, Vetements has made noise the same way any other entity gets buzz in this generation: they’ve been controversial and they’ve tied themselves to celebrities. Whether one applauds their merger of streetwear and high fashion or scoffs at their price-points, their $760 Reebok Instapump Fury is everything mentioned above and it’s awesome. A statement shoe visually and financially, do these leverage DIY doodlers or cash-in on the trend of positioned price gouging? Ironed on irony? The Instapump Fury is much more than Gildan tee, but are we much more than co-sign curators? The pen may be mightier than the sword, but the Sharpie just stole the #7 spot.  – Ian Stonebrook

6. Sneakersnstuff x adidas NMD

photo by @cop.v.few

The NMD was THE shoe of 2016. Debuting at the tail end of 2015, the model made waves in ways unimagined as it took the lane of the Roshe Run and caused campouts at malls and admiration from both guys and gals both young and old.

Whether or not it did too much in one year or one year was all it ever had, the shoe slowed down in 2017 with ahead of the curve shoppers feeling like, ‘been there, done that.’ Still, the Sneakersnstuff two part pairing on the NMD excited even those that claimed they were over it, flipping over the fabric for an inverted glitch pattern that played up the pop favorite fittingly in pop tones. – Ian Stonebrook

5. atmos x Nike Air Max 1

photo via @hiroto_kondo

Previously released in 2007 only in New York and Japan, the Atmos Air Max 1 was a unicorn indeed. So much so, that fans recently voted the shoe back to receive the retro treatment in Nike’s first ever Vote Back campaign for Air Max Day. To no surprise, this is another Nike retro that stood and will continue to stand the test of time. Similar to what Steve Jobs said about the iPhone, the Atmos Air Max 1 is just beautiful. – Ray Polanco

4. Air Jordan 1 “Royal”

Air Jordan 1 Royal
photo by @airjordank

Even if you don’t love the color blue, you love the Air Jordan 1 Royal. Jordan Brand brought back the original packaging, Nike Air and the best quality we’ve seen since the 1985 version. The details alone make it one of the best sneakers of the year. Royal 1s are one of those timeless sneakers that no matter if it’s a general release or limited, they will sell out instantly. These are as smooth as MJ’s fadeaway jumper, nothing but net.

Pro Tip: Jordan 1s last forever and won’t crumble after 10 years. – Ray Polanco

3. Nike Air Max 97

Nike Air Max 97
photo by @needlehorse

The 20 year old classic that looks like it could’ve been designed today easily makes this list of best of the year so far. With the runner era upon us, the Air Max 97 fits the current trends and style perfectly. A unique design, an obnoxious pop of 3M and 360 degree airbag make this shoe a certified neck breaker. Both original colorways dropped and sold out in a matter of minutes. Adding to this release, the Air Max 97 designer Christian Tresser, formally of Nike, got together with Nice Kicks for his first in-depth interview ever on the silhouette and its inception which you can read here. – Ray Polanco

2. adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2

photo by @labreezyyy

In somewhat of a shocker, the ‘easy Yeezy’ we were all waiting for ended up being the “Cream” 350s as opposed to the simple styled Powerphase. A case study in supply and demand, both silos have the admiration of the masses, but are core sneakerheads ready for something new? We’ll say ‘yes’ as we anxiously await the Season 5 Runner and similarly styled Basketball shoe. Until then, the “Zebra” 350 V2s and its “Cream” counterpart serve as the hyped head-turner and attainable flex in a footwear market where a rapper/producer still moves the needle. – Ian Stonebrook

1. KAWS x Air Jordan 4

photo via @princeoftrainers

Typically speaking, trying to please everyone is the best way to let everyone down (or at least yourself). Somehow, Jordan Brand appealed to almost all on the KAWS x Air Jordan 4. Choosing the silo most nostalgic and fashion friendly this side of the 1, the KAWS collab created the type of chase collectors covet, lining up the likes of [email protected] Companion coppers from years back while also gaining glory from today’s fly guys and flippers. Surprisingly striking in grey suede, the quality, collab cache and cool factor make these the one shoe that everybody wanted thus far in 2017. – Ian Stonebrook

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