words // Luis Sanchez
When I first took time to reflect on 2012, I was genuinely blown away by the amount of innovation, nostalgia and style we saw come from the footwear world in just 366 days.
The game was changed with instant classics such as the Flyknit Racer+ & Trainer+, while unforgetable moments were relived with return of classics such as the Air Trainer 1 and Air Flight One by Nike. Supreme and Vans also continued to do their thing, while the Sole Collector team capped off a great year in 2012 with another historic SC x NSW x Penny Hardaway collaboration.
Doing my best to pack everything that blew my mind into just ten selections, I present to you my top shoes of 2012. Have a look for yourself, and be sure to share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below.
2012 was yet another amazing year for Vans and Supreme, as they introduced another outstanding selection of collaborative releases.
We saw the much talked about Andy Warhol "Campbell's Soup" drop, another collection of Mike Carrolls, Checkerboard Authentics, CDG collabs and the metallic Old Skool and Chukka pack coming in at number 10 on my list.
Sure, they're the most subtle and simple Supreme x Vans drop we saw in 2012, but sometimes quality materials and great colorways just can't be beat.
Quietly but still paying them all the respect they deserve, Nike Sportswear celebrated the 25th anniversary of the iconic AIR Pack which included the original Air Trainer 1.
Nike Sportswear reissued Nike's debut cross-trainer in their original "Chlorophyll" colorway, which we last saw back in 2010. The iconic colorway was slept on for the most part, making them quite an easy pick-up for longtime fans of the Tinker Hatfield-designed Air Trainer 1 like myself.
Looking back on 2012, its safe to say Penny Hardaway was once again one of the most celebrated athletes of the year by Nike Sportswear. We saw a variety of Air Foamposite Ones, Air Penny IIs, Zoom Rookies, the arrival of the Air Penny V, and of course, the first-ever reissue of the iconic Air Flight One.
One of the first Penny Hardaway-endorsed styles released by Nike back in 1995, the Flight One made its return in a "Galaxy" themed colorway and their original "Orlando" color scheme during All-Star Weekend in Orlando. Nike Sportswear also reissued the timeless Black/White colorway once rocked by Jordan, and two more new generation color combos.
Coming in at number 7 on my list is another huge hit from Nike Sportswear.
In an era where bold designs, exposed technology and vibrant colorways have become the norm, the Roshe Run proved that quality materials, along with a simple and functional everyday design can still capture the attention of even the most casual of footwear consumers.
While a number of updated designs are set to hit in 2013, the original Roshe Run will definitely still be a fan favorite for many years to come.
The Rose 773 by adidas made the cut based solely on the story behind them and their current on-court presence.
Just in-case you've made an effort to completely ignore what's going on in the NBA this season, Blazers' rookie and early R.O.Y candidate Damian Lillard has quickly made a name for himself in the Rose 773 and other adidas favorites with his explosive play, mean dunks and even an unforgettable game-winning buzzer beater.
Lillard's buzzer beater over the Hornets did more than just help cement his arrival into the league, it also took me back to the days of connecting with a shoe through the memorable on-court moments they represent.
Another standout from 2012, and arguably Nike Basketball's top release of the year has to be the LeBron X. The monumental LeBron X is a culmination of several of Nike's top performance innovations with their Hyperfuse construction, Dynamic Flywire lacing system, Nike+ capabilities and a never before seen 360 Zoom Air tooling.
Not only performance-driven, the LeBron X has also quickly become one of the most popular off-court signature models with the countless amount of impressive colorways already introduced and vast customization options offered by NIKEiD.
LeBron's historic tenth signature shoe made their debut on the grand stage, introduced to the world as James and Team USA captured the gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Their debut also helped close out one of the most complete seasons/single years of basketball we'll ever see, as LeBron earned his third career MVP Award, first career NBA Finals title and MVP Award, and second career gold medal in 2012.
By far the most memorable release of 2012 for me was our Sole Collector x NSW "Galaxy" Zoom Rookie.
The now highly regarded "Galaxy" theme was unveiled to the world on Gentry Humphrey's feet during the release of our 2011 SC x NSW Penny Pack, so it was only right that it all came full circle with the release of the Sole Collector x NSW Zoom Rookie.
SC's take on the "Galaxy" theme featured a unique version of the popular graphic over the Zoom Rookie, along with glow in the dark spheres to match the outsole and Sole Collector branding hidden under the flight patch on the tongue.
Released exclusively through issue 11 of SC on the iPad, the "Galaxy" Zoom Rookie was our largest launch yet and served as a precursor of whats to come from Sole Collector in 2013 and beyond.
Proving he's still got it in him, 2012 saw Tinker Hatfield bring to life another iconic Nike Tennis shoe in the Zoom Vapor 9 Tour for Roger Federer.
The Zoom Vapor 9 Tour was designed by Hatfield with Federer's specific request for a running shoe-inspired design in mind. Utilizing a lightweight mesh build, Nike's Dynamic Fit System swooping across the midfoot and a sleek TPU frame along the midsole, the Zoom Vapor 9 Tour is one of the most versatile tennis shoe designs we've seen in years.
Tinker's return to Nike's once-overshadowed tennis category was easily one of the biggest stories of 2012, helping build much anticipation for both future Federer signatures and other Nike Tennis models.
Nike Sportswear closed out 2012 on a high note with the introduction of the Lunar Force 1 as part of the iconic Air Force 1's 30th anniversary.
Improving on functionality and comfort with a full Hyperfuse build and Lunarlon tooling, the Lunar Force 1 was in my eyes the rebirth of the Air Force 1. No un-needed changes such as a bulky Foamposite upper and strictly-for-looks Max Air, the Lunar Force 1 is the perfect example how to properly update a classic without compromising any of the features and elements they've always been recognized for.
With that said, seeing one of my favorite models of all time finally updated properly can only mean good things for the future. The Lunar Force 1 will definitely be seen on my feet quite a lot throughout 2013.
You know you're doing something right When you make Time Magazine's list of top inventions in 2012. Putting on display years of development by Nike and likely a sign of the future in performance athletic footwear, Nike took 2012 to introduce the game-changing Flyknit series.
The knitted construction was introduced with the Flyknit Racer+ and most notably the Flyknit Trainer+, which comes as my clear cut top shoe of 2012. Lightweight, form-fitting and equipped with Zoom Air bags in both the heel and forefoot, Nike made it pretty tough to take these Flyknit Trainers off my feet.
Looking towards the future, I'm extremely eager to see the Flyknit construction process utilized by the rest of Nike's performance categories. Especially, Nike Basketball.