The Kicks You Wear, Vol. 21 — The best everything of 2019

A year in review for sneakers

Good morning! Happy Monday! Welcome back to the Kicks You Wear. As always, thank you for giving me a bit of your time today. It’s always appreciated. Hope y’all got to those Bred 11’s without a fuss!

Today’s shoutout goes to all my December graduates! Shoutout to y’all for grinding and working your way through it. Here’s to your continued success, family.

Today, we’re gonna dive into some of the end of the year content. It’s time for the best everything.


Sneaker of the year: The Nike x Sacai LDV Waffle

(via Sneaker Bar Detroit)

Key info:

  • Release date: May 30, 2019

  • Retail value: $155

  • Where to buy: If you’ve got the money, hit up StockX.

There were a ton of shoes that I thought about for this one that had a real impact. The FOG’s, literally everything Travis Scott, Yeezy, the FEARLESS AJ1s. The list goes on and on and on. There were a lot of good joints to choose from this year.

But the Sacai Waffle was the best of it all. It checked every single box that you’d ever want a great shoe to check.

  • Think about it. It was based off of Nike’s OG Waffle Racer — a model from the late 70’s that no one really touched before 2019. No one saw this sneaker coming even aside from its bold design.

  • Speaking of the design, it’s super creative. Everything on the shoe is doubled, from the laces to the stacked soles, dual tongue and even the double swoosh. That set a real tone for 2019 and just how adventurous we could get with our kicks.

  • It came in multiple colorways, which isn’t necessarily normal for a collab. But that’s what made this one so great. The flavors made it more of a collection and not just a one-off. And everyone had multiple chances to cop some variation of it (even though the green one is the best. This isn’t up for debate.)

They just edge out Travis Scott’s Jordan 1. It just felt a bit boring and too safe to me, even as one of the best sneakers of the year.

We saw so many variations of the AJ1 this year it began to lose its weight. The Waffle is unique — it catapulted the model into its best year ever, bar none. Even without Scott’s AJ1, the Jordan model would be thriving.


Sneaker star of the year: Travis Scott

(Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash)

Key info:

  • Brand: Nike/Jordan

  • 2019 releases: Five

  • Albums: Hot fire

This might be better known as collaborator of the year? But whatever. Sneaker star sounds kind of cool. This award is for the most active collaborator and creator in sneakers this year.

Travis Scott, pretty easily, takes this one home. There wasn’t anyone who was as active as Scott this year that had the same impact.

  • He had five releases this year: The Air Jordan 32 (which no one really counts), the Air Jordan 1, the AJ1 low, the Air Jordan 6 and the Cactus Jack Air Force 1.

  • Right now, literally all of those sneakers with the exception of the 32 are no less than $350. Even the AJ32 is listed at $269. He packed heat this year.

  • That’s not even mentioning what he did outside of his own collection. He was a key figure in promoting the Dior AJ1 launch over the last couple of weeks. He’s been all over the place.

No one in sneakers had a better year than Travis Scott. It’s hard to plot how he’ll continue his success into the next year. He’s been doing collaborations over the last two years and hasn’t really missed yet, so maybe they keep going with that.

I’ve been vocal about him getting a signature model but there hasn’t been a peep from the swoosh about that. Doesn’t seem to be in the cards quite yet. Either way, whatever they’ve got cooking up next is probably going to be heat.


Best glow up: New Balance

(Photo by Ihor Malytskyi on Unsplash)

Key info:

Let’s be honest — Nike and Adidas are always going to do big numbers financially. But New Balance had 2019's biggest jump in the zeitgeist.

Kawhi Leonard is paying off for them in the same way Stephen Curry did for Under Armour in 2016. He was one of the best players in the NBA, but wasn’t the most marketable star. He’s quiet and reserve. The most appealing part about him was his game — or so we thought.

  • Turns out he was a really fun guy. New Balance built several campaigns around that moment and turned him into a bigger star. They even do spots with him that don’t even require him to speak. That’s genius. Him winning an NBA title helps with that.

  • They also did it big on the collab tip. The “No Days Off” and “No Bad Days” Bodega collabs were two of the best we saw this year. New Balance generally kills it on the collab front, but when you combine Leonard’s success with what they’re doing in lifestyle that makes for a pretty big year.

Puma was a strong consideration here. They had a phenomenal year as well. They launched something special with the Nipsey Hussle collab earlier this year and have a pretty deep roster of entertainers and sports personalities. But it feels like they’re missing the big name still. They’ll probably find it soon.


1st Team All-Fly

This, quite simply, is my starting five of the sneaker releases in 2019. Pound for pound the best sneakers to drop this year. Think about it like if you were picking an All-Star team — except it’s sneakers.

Starting lineup:

  • Nike x Sacai LDV Waffle

  • Melody Ehsani x Jordan “Fearless” AJ1

  • Travis Scott x Jordan “Cactus Jack” AJ1

  • Cactus Plant Flea Market Nike VaporMax

  • New Balance x Bodega “No Days Off”

The bench mob:

  • Adidas ZX 4000 4D

  • Adidas x Overkill ZX 10,000C 'I Can If I Want'

  • Nike x Olivia Kim Air Footscape

  • Blue The Great x Jordan “Fearless” AJ1

  • Reebok Question Mid “Double Cross”

  • Air Jordan 4 “Bred”

  • Nike x Staple “Panda” Pigeon SB Dunk

  • Nike “Night of Mischief” Dunk

  • Nike x Off-White Air Max 90

That’s a big ass bench.


Biggest WTF moment

I’m still trying to understand what the Jesus shoe was and why it existed. Only God knows — literally?


What’s droppin’, bruh


Hope you enjoyed this. I know y’all disagree with some stuff and feel like I left some good stuff off of the list. Hit me up! Get on me about it. You’re probably right.

Talk to you Friday! Thanks for reading, as always! Be easy. Be kind. Peace and love.

Signing off.

Sykes 💯