words // Brennan Hiro Williams

2012 was an exciting year for sneakers. New innovations hit the market, your favorite retro released (again) and nearly every celebrity, from A-list to Joe Budden, was spotted in a SC Celebrity Sneaker Watch post. As 2012 winds down to a close, the Sole Collector staff is putting together its annual Top 10 lists, taking a look back at the year that was.  

I've listed my top 10 shoes of the year below, including several personal favorites and some designs that I just can't help but appreciate. Without further ado...

10. Nike Roshe Run

The Nike Roshe Run was a revelation last spring, selling quickly at retail with very economical price point and an array of excellent colorways. The minimal, straightforward design gives you everything you need and nothing you don't.

9. New Balance Made in the USA 998

New Balance released several nice colorways of the M998 runner this year, including a great Brown / Black offering that hit retail during the spring. The brown suede looks sublime, and best of all, the shoe is produced right here in the USA. 

8. Nike Free Inneva Woven

Nike Sportswear introduced the Free Inneva Woven in September, an original silhouette with a form-fitting woven upper. Out of all of the new "NSW" models, the Inneva has, in my opinion, the greatest potential to stick around for the long-term.

7. Nike Air Footscape Woven Chukka "Wool Pack"

Nike Sportswear released several unique colorways of the Footscape Woven Chukka in 2012, from the "Rainbow" pack to the "Monotone Leopard." As a Footscape fan, I liked most of them, but perhaps none more than the "Wool Pack" Footscape, shown here in Black / Medium Grey.

6. Tom Sachs x Nike "NIKECraft" Mars Yard Shoe

I thoroughly enjoyed the Tom Sachs x Nike Mars Yard Shoe, not just because of it's nice, simple design, but also because of the greater story attached to it. The Mars Yard Shoe debuted with the Tom Sachs SPACE PROGRAM: MARS installation in May, helping Tom's "astronauts" train for their four-week "mission to Mars." A definite collector's item. 

5. Supreme x Nike Air Force 1 Low

I was pleasantly surprised when images of the Supreme x Nike Air Force 1 Low first surfaced in September. Truthfully, I hadn't bought a pair of Air Force 1s since the "Acorns" dropped almost a decade ago, but these are undeniable. The gum outsole fits the camouflage colorway perfectly. The NYCO fabric upper is just icing on the cake. Also, Supreme. 

4. Concepts x New Balance "SEAL" 999

Concepts released several strong collaborations in 2012, none better than, in my opinion, the "SEAL" 999. Inspired by the Navy's Sea, Air, Land teams, this special New Balance features a lot of great details, including morse code on the tongue, a stenciled "999" and a topographical map graphic on the liner. The color and material combinations are fantastic, too.

3. fragment design x Cole Haan LunarGrand Wingtip

Ever since the first grey suede wingtip was released earlier in the year, I've been a fan of the Cole Haan LunarGrand line. The entire LunarGrand series (wingtip, chukka, saddle shoe and penny loafer) is a fantastic idea, blending together classic footwear styles with modern technology and aesthetics. My favorite from the bunch is this Hiroshi Fujiwara-assisted, fragment design x Cole Haan LunarGrand Wingtip, a minimal colorway featuring a black scotch grain leather upper. 

2. Nike Flyknit Trainer

A great design, in terms of both aesthetics and performance, the innovative Flyknit Trainer quickly became my go-to sneaker shortly after I hunted down the Black / White colorway (pictured below) at a local specialty running shop. It's been months now, and I'm still impressed by the Flyknit Trainer, and really just Flyknit technology in general. Now if I could just get my hands on a HTM pair...

1. Nike Air Yeezy 2

What more can be said about the Yeezy 2? It was easily the most exciting product release of the year, and the 500-comment Yeezy April Fool's prank I authored on this site is probably the highlight of my short Sole Collector career. Beyond the hype, the Yeezy 2 is a truly cool design, from the metal obelisk lace tips to its molded heel. Considering the hype, from Watch the Throne to Kim K and everything in between, this is a sneaker that will be remembered for a very long time.