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Sneakerheads Describe What They Love Most About Their Favorite Pair

Written By Nick Mendez | Dec 18, 2014

Sneakerheads are a rare breed–ravenous fans who evaluate footwear the way foodies do fine dining. Every year, sneaker companies pour countless hours into pushing and refining their designs, all searching for new ways to appeal to these tastemakers. They’re a subculture that’s about as old as basketball itself. We asked some sneaker connoisseurs to describe their favorite pair of all time, and what they like about them so much.

Innovative details

Zack Luby, Digital Storyteller, Good Stuff Communications

Photo by Jon Magotch
Photo by Jon Magotch

First, picking my favorite pair of sneakers of all time is tough! If pressed, I would choose the Jordan V as my all-time fave.

I can remember the first time I saw them in person–my friend Kevin had a pair. I wanted a pair of my own so bad, but couldn’t get them because they were taxed (they broke the $100 barrier, which was well above my paper-route-and-lawn-mowing tax bracket). Feeling deprived of the Jordan V experience probably made me spend most of my disposable income on sneakers when I got a little older.

Looking back, it’s amazing how many innovations went into the Jordan V: the swooping shark tooth midsole pattern based on WW2 fighter plane artwork, the clear mesh integrated side panels, the reflective 3M tongue, the lace toggles, the clear portion of the sole (with the Jumpman logo visible through the clear part, no less)–it’s almost mind-boggling. Some of those cues are still ubiquitous in sneaker design, 24 years later.

Tinker Hatfield (the primary designer of the shoe) created a timeless design which fit the Michael Jordan brand aesthetic, was technically advanced, featured clear ties to the brand history, and literally felt like it came from the future. I don’t think it’s exaggerating to say the Jordan V pushed sneaker design forward by a decade. This was not a gradual or incremental change, this was a complete re-thinking of what a basketball sneaker could be.

Plus, they were mad comfortable and almost certainly made you jump a few inches higher and run just a little bit faster.

Futuristic design

Chris Hill, Footwear Designer, Reebok

ChrisMy favorite shoes of all time are the Nike Air Max Total Foamposite. I’m a huge fan of the foamposite line because they were so ahead of their time aesthetically. They were very futuristic and looked like nothing anybody had seen at that time. They also combine two of Nike’s best technologies.

There is also an emotional connection for me with these, like a lot of shoes from my childhood. I couldn’t afford most of the Nikes or Jordans I wanted when I was a kid. These were $185 in 1998. The foamposites were the most expensive basketball shoe at the time, even more than Jordans, which was unheard of.

Next-level collaboration

Jeff Schanzer, Designer, Smith & Robot

JeffIf I had to choose one sneaker from my collection as my absolute favorite, I would go with the Saint Alfred x Asics Gel Lyte III from 2013. First of all, the GLIII is one of my favorite silhouettes, period. With this collaboration, Saint Alfred took the shoe to a whole new level. From the simplified brand detailing, to the color blocking and choices, to the unreal liner and insole materials, this sneaker just can’t be ignored.

When I first saw photos of this collaboration, I instantly knew I had to have them. I was even prepared to pay resale if I missed out on a retail drop. Luckily, I came with the swiftness and copped my pair at the price I wanted to pay from an online shop. That was a good day. Once I had my pair in hand, I spent much time just admiring the shoe and appreciating the thought that went into every aspect of this limited release. Saint Alfred did a lot with this shoe that I hadn’t seen done before.

It was a tough call to pick one sneaker as my favorite, and perhaps my mind will change, but I believe these will forever remain in my top three. Honorable mentions go to the Concepts x New Balance 998 “Tannery” and the Nike Air Yeezy II “Pure Platinum” (call me a hypebeast).

Colorful styling

Luke Giuffreda, Math Tutor

LukeThis question is hard for anybody who loves shoes, because there are always so many options, but for me, my favorite shoe of all time is the South Beach LeBron 8.

They came out three or four years ago, and they appeal to me because they are turquoise and that’s my favorite color. They also have hints of hot pink that appeal to me, and they are my favorite player’s shoes.

Aggressive uniqueness

Andy Oliver, Mobile Developer, Shopify

AndyMy all-time favorite pair of sneakers is the Black/Metallic Jordan V. The shoe originally released back in 1990, when I was only nine years old, but even still, I was instantly infatuated. The design was so sleek and aggressive compared to the other white, clunky basketball shoes of that time. Tinker Hatfield, the shoe’s designer, took inspiration from the World War 2 Mustang fighter jet, and also added some pretty innovative details for 1990, like a 3M reflective tongue and clear outsole.

My mom wasn’t about to spend over $100 on sneakers, so I had to wait into my adult life to buy a retro release version. Even though I don’t wear them very often anymore (they’re kind of uncomfortable and hard to pull off casually), for nostalgia alone, I still instantly point to them as my favorite shoe ever. 25 years later, they’re still being produced, and it’s kind of cool that a new generation is obsessing over the same design.

Rasheed Wallace

The Artist Known Only as TRILLBLAZIN

TRILLBLAZINEVERYBODY KNOWS THE HOTTEST SNEAKER OF ALL TIME IS THE AIR FORCE ONE, BUT WHAT THEY DON’T KNOW IS IT’S THE HOTTEST SNEAKER WORN BY RASHEED WALLACE OF ALL TIME. THE DESIGN IS SEAMLESS AND TIMELESS, GIVING IT A SEAMLESS, YET TIMELESS EFFECT. THE CROWN JEWEL IS THE SHEED LOGO ON THE SIDE OF HIS PLAYER VERSIONS.

A few broad findings can be drawn from our panel of sneakerheads. For one, the Jordan V’s clearly blew the minds of young sneaker fans everywhere.

Interestingly, a majority of our sneakerheads fondly remembered not being able to afford their favorite pair. I guess with sneakers, unattainability can be a powerful motivator.

Finally, designs from Nike dominated our unscientific poll. What, no love for Pro Wings?

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