Summer is sneaker season and the summer of 2019 didn’t disappoint. Nike dropped an already-legendary collaboration with Sacai that quickly became the definitive shoe of the summer. Adidas put out Marvel collab after Marvel collab, making great use of their license with one of the most recognizable pop culture brands in the world. And then there’s that SpongeBob SquarePants capsule we made such a fuss about (and rightfully so — it’s dope).
But September is here, meaning summer, calendars be damned, is over. It’s time to sit back and take stock of what the highlights of the season have been for sneaker nerds across the globe. We’ll be focusing a bit more on pop culture crossovers and releases with particular historical significance to sneaker nerds, so don’t get mad when the Nike Sacais and Yeezy Boost 700 Analogs don’t show up. They have absolutely been highlights of the summer as well, no doubt.
Nike x Stranger Things Cortez
Nike’s Stranger Things collab as a whole was a highlight of the summer for sure, eschewing gaudy logos and colorways for stripped-down old school sneakers similar to the ones worn on Netflix’s hit show. This Cortez, adorned with Hawkins High colors and a cool little logo, is the best of them easily.
Nike Adapt BB Mag
Auto-lacing technology was first imagined in ‘Back to the Future Part II’ and Nike has strived to make it a reality ever since. This Adapt BB, an auto-lacing basketball shoe, designed to pay homage to the original Nike Mag seen in the film is a great tribute to the moment the journey began.
adidas Dame 5 Black Panther
Marvel and adidas have been dropping heat all summer so there’s a version of this list that’s just those kicks top to bottom. If we’re only going with one though, it’s gotta be the Dame 5 Black Panther colorway. The Dame 5 is already probably the best shoe in adidas’s basketball rotation and this colorway, which replicates the texture of the Black Panther armor and gives it a dope vibranium-purple accent, might be the best the shoe has seen yet.
Under Armour Project Rock 2
When it comes to gym gear you can’t do better than Under Armour’s Dwayne Johnson partnership — the Project Rock line. The Project Rock 2, which is the line’s newest fitness shoe, is a powerhouse of a sneaker sure to get you through the heaviest of workouts.
adidas OG ZX Series
Alright, we’re cheating a little bit here, but can you blame us? Adidas’s revamp of their original ZX Torsion running shoe line to celebrate the series’s 30th anniversary has been stellar. It’s hard to pick a favorite colorway amongst so many great choices. Definitely a highlight of the summer for hardcore sneaker nerds.
adidas Continental 80 AriZona Green Tea Ginseng
The shoes that started a riot. Yes, maybe the noise surrounding the attempted 99-cent sneaker sale pop up over the summer distracted from the shoes themselves a bit, but make no mistake: the adidas Continental 80 in the Arizona Green Tea colorway is one of the coolest pairs of kicks we’ve seen in ages.
Nike Kyrie 5 Squidward
We’ve already been over this one pretty extensively but we’ll say it again: the Kyrie SpongeBob SquarePants series’ standout is easily the Squidward colorway. From the perfect teal upper that perfectly matches our favorite melancholic squid to the little details, it’s about as good as pop culture collabs get.
Nike Zoom Freak 1 Coming to America
Nike’s Zoom Freak 1, the first signature sneaker of Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, is the best edition to their basketball line in a few years. The low-cut shoe features a lightweight upper, comfy Zoom cushioning, and a big Nike Swoosh embossed into the heel for flair. The ‘Coming to America’ colorway is a flashy edition that draws inspiration from one of Giannis’s favorite flicks — and it’s a pretty dope shoe whether or not you’re a fan of the movie.
Nike Zoom Freak 1 Roses
Yeah yeah, we’re kinda cheating here (again). But the Freak 1 is such a great sneaker we can’t help it. The latest edition of the shoe — and the last of the summer — is a classic white sneaker with perfect red and gold accents. You can’t go wrong with this colorway if you’re looking for a new everyday shoe.
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