With input from the Snobby Sneaker Award panel, we’ve come up with a list of the top ten sneakers for women in 2017. This was a year that saw Nike reassert its place in the culture through a combination of better product and a bigger focus on collaborations. At the same time, the chunky sneaker became a thing, a trend that created an opening for new brands to make an entry on our list.
As always, we are very thankful to our panel, who include two of the savviest buyers of women’s sneakers in the world, Susan Boyle of Rime in New York and Murata PJs of Sole Finess in Australia, plus two New Yorkers who are part and parcel of the culture, Kirsy Lovett and Jazerai Allen-Lord. Once again, Soleil Barros provided a West Coast perspective.
As always, we made it our focus to pick shoes that resonated with women, made waves within sneaker culture and also provide a window on what’s to come in the year ahead. Enjoy our picks below.
Honorable mention: Converse One Star x Tyler the Creator, Adidas Originals x Yeezy Powerphase and Adidas Originals x Yeezy Wave Runner 700.
10. Nike AirMax 97 x Skepta: Besides AirMax 97 being Nike’s hottest silhouette this year and Skepta creating a very slick color story, women just really adore Skepta. Yes, it’s because he makes really awesome music, but he also has crazy levels of sex appeal. Brands of the world make note, if you attach Skepta to your project, women definitely will sit up and pay attention.
9. Reebok Pony Hair Princess x Melody Ehsani: It’s been a long haul, but Reebok Classics have finally begun to see some return to favor in the United States. Los Angeles designer Melody Ehsani has definitely been a force behind the brand’s ascent vis-a-vis a series of ongoing collaborations with the brand. Our fave this year was the white Princess low featuring a pony hair eyestay and heel tab plus a Nefertiti stamp, adding soulful appeal to a classic design.
8. Nike AirMax 97 LX Swarovski: The AirMax 97 was the center of attention for Nike marketing efforts this year and from the beginning the brand indicated it would include women in the celebration. Making use of micro Swarovski crystals, Nike created a version of the shoe that provided the shoe with a luxe upgrade and feminine appeal. Offered in black and silver, even with a hefty price of $400 the shoes disappeared as soon as they dropped.
7. Fila Disruptor 2 x Barneys: The pendulum always swings back. After years of focus on lightweight minimalist sneakers, there has been a growing interest in shoes that offer more cushioning. Fashion lovers pushed the story to over-the-top new heights with the embrace of Fila’s Disruptor shoe, a sneaker that’s been a part of the brand’s line up since the mid-’90s in. Fila returned the love with new material and color stories, which were led by the brand’s very limited collaborations with luxury retailer Barneys.
6. Air Jordan Retro 2 x Just Don: Designer Don Crawley has that golden touch and his series of collaborations with Jordan on the Retro 2 have been no exception. This year, the decision to offer the quilted model in a very 0f-the-moment Artic Orange was appealing enough, but the whole package went next level when Crawley offered the shoe in grade school sizing, an effort that received a co-sign from his spouse, Kristen Noel Crawley, who is not only insanely stylish herself, but also a talented creative in her own right.
5. Nike Blazer Low Paris Fashion Week: This shoe was released twice and both times it was done without a lot of fanfare on Nike’s part, but women took notice and wherever it hit at retail, the shoe evaporated upon arrival. Beside the fact the women love the Blazer silhouette, the shoe packed low-key luxe punch with a suede upper and a silver key charm, all of which was priced at a very nice $95.
4. Balenciaga Triple S: Phew! This shoe was super controversial! Purists viewed its popularity as simply built on hype, but in reality the hyper-bulky design tapped into super cushioned models of yore and took them to artful, boundary pushing heights. And while not everyone likes a big splashy statement item, Balenciaga took a chance on making a bold design statement and it felt right on time for the world’s envelope pushers.
3. Adidas Originals NMD Hu x Pharrell Williams x Chanel: Adidas’s NMD shoe was our No. 1 shoe in 2016 and it returns in the form of a Pharrell Williams Hu shoe. While very few people were lucky enough to get their hands on this sneaker, it was in many many an encapsulation of the year, reflecting the importance of hip-hop-rooted influencers, the merging of street and luxury and on a sad note, marked the end of an era with the shuttering of Paris boutique Colette, which had an exclusive on the shoe.
2. Air Jordan Retro 1 x Aleali May: In following May’s various social media feeds over the past few years, we always found it astounding to see no sneaker brand had locked her into an exclusive relationship. Jordan moved first, making her the second woman since Vashtie to collaborate on a shoe with the storied brand. Her Air Jordan Retro 1 sneaker was a tribute to her Los Angeles family and roots, creating a low key yet stunt-worthy shoe that was widely admired but found special appeal among women thrilled to purchase a shoe created by a woman who is so much more than a pretty face.
1. Nike Vapormax x Off-White: After a lackluster 2016, Nike began to emerge from its product funk with the launch of the Vapormax on Air Max Day in March. While the shoe was received well enough, it was Nike’s collaboration with Off-White that provided the brand with legit tailwinds fueling sky high levels of buzz in sneaker culture. If there was one push back on the partnership it was that all the shoes were classics. That is all except the Vapormax x Off-White shoe, which stands out from “The Ten” not only because it’s a new design but also because it was the only silhouette offered in women’s sizing.