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Sneaker Brands That Made An Impact Last Year

Hunting For Kicks, a sneaker culture site, youtube video series that covers urban culture events and overall voice in urban youth culture in SA, dropped their list of the best moments in sneaker culture this year. Here is the full list as taken off their socials.

2017 was a big one for PUMA. The past 12 months saw a flurry of celebrity partnerships and technical innovations that have kept the brand riding the wave of success. You couldn’t talk about the brand in 2017 without talking about Rihanna and Fenty. The singer, again, looked into her sartorial crystal ball and presented us with more of the boundary-pushing kicks and Fenty flavour that have made her PUMA’s most valuable asset.

Canadian crooner The Weeknd was one of their biggest players, and released his much-rumoured signature shoe mid-year. The Parallel took a military-esque approach and was a departure from the shoes the singer had previously sported in his campaigns for the Big Cat. Selena Gomez also donned a Formstripe in 2017. The Phenom, which released in November, blended fashion and functionality and was created to multitask, just like its singer-actor-Instagram-savant herself.

There’s no denying this year was a good one for the brand, seeing their celeb partnerships pay off in a big way and coming through with fresh new tech. PUMA blasted onto the scene this year with the introduction of ‘Jamming’ technology. By arriving fashionably late to the party, Puma was able to take the best bits of comfort tech and combine them, we can’t wait to see where the Big Cat will prowl next year.

Converse cruised through 2017 with the grace of an old pro — largely because they are both practiced professionals and very, very old. However, they seem to have found the fountain of youth, kegged it and joined new-gen sneakerheads in red-cup revelry.

In years prior, Converse added tech like Lunarlon and Shield Canvas and this year, they phoned a friend and brought in Nike’s Flyknit technology. Straight from the jump, eight new colourways were fed through the loom. If you’re weighing Converse’s most important collaborations of 2017, it’s hard to find a heavier hitter than Tyler The Creator, the irreverent musician-cum-director-cum-designer-cum-television host catapulted the ‘One Star’ in a new direction by harnessing flower power.

It was an outstanding year for ASICS for one key reason: their phenomenal dedication to brand history. Trips to the ASICS archive ignited a retro renaissance and a slew of unexpected encore appearances.

Making their intentions clear from the get-go, ASICS kicked off 2017 with the return of the GEL-DS Trainer OG. The model hit shelves in early January in its original colours together with a darker make-up that perfectly embraced the model’s 1995 origins.

The return of the GEL-Mai was one of the year’s best sneaker moments.

New Balance always have one foot in the past and the other in the future, straddling the times like an omniscient buckaroo. This year, there have been modern revisions of old favourites, one-to-one remakes of classics, and plenty of surprises.

The 574 is New Balance’s bestselling shoe of all time. Not only that, but the go-everywhere shoe managed to rise to this position despite a distinct lack of supporting fanfare over the years.

Throughout the year, New Balance exercised their collaborative calm over and over with seriously well-executed partnerships. We saw the Ronnie Fieg 574S with its interchangeable N logos, Mita’s ‘Blue Hour’, Cncpts’ Trailbuster, Norseprojects, and Stance to name a few.

New Balance have always marched to the beat of their own drum, and this year was no exception. Their heritage styling and highly focused athletic tech continues to speak for itself in a landscape crowded with copy-cat hypebeasts.

We can confidently declare 2017 as the year of VANS, with every kind of man, woman and potentially their dog sporting a pair. So after their models became a wardrobe must-have the previous year, we’re left wondering how the brand was going to evolve into this year.

Vans pulled up a pew at Jerry Lorenzo’s Fear of God church, and it proved to be a prosperous move for both collaborators.

Boyz ‘n Bucks and Vans linked up this year to deliver a collab stocked solely at the BOYZNBUCKS POP UP. If we do the math, Vans + BOYZNBUCKS + an air of exclusivity = a winning formula for a hype 2017 release.

It’s been 33 years since #23 stepped onto the court and, Jumpman jack flash-forward, Jordan Brand’s now flying first class. This year has seen Jordan embrace high fashion and high tech with signature wide open arms.

The year was spent reflecting on the core values of heritage product, and translating past successes into fresh kicks fine-tuned for the times. So here’s an overview of the year that was, which will leave you in no doubt that Nike have got their groove back.

The year’s biggest Nike headlines have been anniversary-themed. The Air Max 97 and Foamposite each celebrated twentieths, the Air Force 1 turned 35, and the SB line hit 15. But the biggest party of all was reserved for the Air Max 1 – the big 3 – 0.

Virgil Abloh’s Off White x Nike ‘The Ten’ collection was the biggest collaboration of the year, period! Yeezys have become yawnsome, and while the Supreme Uptempos came close to top spot, this year has all been about Virgil.

Nike’s Breaking 2 campaign turned up the heat to unprecedented levels thanks to the revolutionary Vaporfly, the Swoosh laced their elite marathon runners in custom pairs of VaporFly Elite.

There’s no denying Nike have absolutely killed it this year and while many question their dominance, it looks to us like they’re simply redefining their spot on top.

*This post first appeared on the Hunting For Kicks social here and be sure to check out their site here.

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