One of the most beautiful aspects about owning sneakers is the personal connections they create. Whether they remind you of what you were rocking during your 8th-grade basketball championship, serve as a reflection of your favorite athlete or music artist or are just viewed as functional daily drivers, each pair carries its own unique story and can be a playful means of self-expression. Throughout the first half of 2023, weâ€™ve witnessed the biggest sportswear brands push out some limited collaborations, new tech-focused innovations and clean inline styles. And as the summer season settles in, a group of HYPEBEAST staff members from editors to video producers and more have banded together to shed light on their favorite pick-ups thus far.
This batch features a wide range of styles including floral-covered team-ups from ASICS, a beverage-inspired Jarritos collaboration with Nike, a sleek NEIGHBORHOOD Boot made alongside adidas and more. And the most important, unifying element that links all of these kicks together is the pure elation thatâ€™s experienced by their wearers. Scroll further down to view the full list.
You ever have that one version of something thatâ€™s just so good, you canâ€™t resist the urge to compare everything you have afterwards to it? Maybe itâ€™s a heavenly slice of pizza. Maybe itâ€™s a really memorable exhibit. Maybe, if youâ€™re unlucky, itâ€™s a past significant other (canâ€™t relate to that last one, sorry!). No matter if itâ€™s pizza, painting or person, it was so good that everything afterwards just doesnâ€™t hit the same.
Thatâ€™s been the case for me ever since I first tried a norda sneaker on in 2022. Iâ€™ve got over a hundred pairs of shoes, from Air Jordans to New Balances and Salomons â€” now that Iâ€™m in my 30s itâ€™s increasingly difficult to tell if thatâ€™s a feather in my cap or something to be sheepish about â€” but I find myself reaching for a norda at least three or four days a week, arguably even more now the their new 002 has dropped. Itâ€™s a little sleeker than the 001, which I selected as my favorite shoe of last year, but unlike so many other brands, with norda a new model is a compliment to an existing one instead of a replacement. New heel design? Custom Vibram midsole? Upper fully composed of bio-based Dyneema? Dyneema-infused laces? Vibram outsoles? Lord have mercy. Yup, theyâ€™re the best Iâ€™ve ever had (no Drake, even though norda is Canadian too). – Ross Dwyer, Managing Editor
Nike SB x Air Jordan 4 â€œPine Greenâ€
Nike SB and Jordan Brand have collaborated on their first Jordan 4 silhoutte ever, and in my opinion, itâ€™s a doozy! The new SB4 collab first came to my attention when I spotted the rumored â€œBlack Catâ€ samples on a few sneaker accounts, but nothing was actually confirmed. Canididly, although my interest was piqued, the â€œBlack Catâ€ colorway never really did it for me. Then when the official images arrived of the Pine Green SB 4s, I was totally on board. The sneakers arrived in a new Off-white/Greyish colored SB box which, has since been used for other SB releases. The quality of these sneakers is really off the charts and worthy of the price tag. The leather is top notch, the tongue and back tab are built for comfort, and even skater-wannabe dads like me can appreciate extra padding within the sock liner (while I shuffle my kids around between activities). Iâ€™m definitely intrigued and excited if there are further colorways coming, count me in (if I can get my hands on them). – Justin Goldberg, Director of Video
Nike Zoom Vomero 5 â€œTimelessâ€
Iâ€™ve always admired the Nike Zoom Vomero 5 for its supreme comfort and versatility. The first pair I picked up was the â€œAnthraciteâ€ colorway back in 2019, and the silhouetteâ€™s resurgence naturally made me want to add another entry into my rotation. The â€œTimelessâ€ colorway captured my attention this year because of its unorthodox, Dunk-inspired overlays, but it wasnâ€™t until Nick Sisombath of Collegium showed me what they looked like without them that inspired me to buy a pair for myself and take an X-acto knife to their excess. Without the overlays, the kicksâ€™ â€œSailâ€ uppers and black accents appear with a cleaner aesthetic and remind of StÃ¼ssyâ€™s Nike Zoom Spiridon 2 â€œFossilâ€ collaboration. If you know me, Iâ€™m typically decked out in neutral-toned garb, so this is definitely an offering that Iâ€™ll have in my rotation because of its plush ride and how well its palette aligns my style. – Elliot Santiago, Footwear Editor
A-COLD-WALL* x Converse Geo Forma Boot
I have great admiration for out-of-the-box sneakers that seem jarring or unique. The A-COLD-WALL* x Converse Geo Forma Boot is that and so much more. When I first picked up the collaborative model earlier this year, I couldnâ€™t wait to get it on foot and experience an architectural footwear masterpiece. Once I zipped them up, I realized they were like no shoe I had ever owned. The protective neoprene uppers and laceless design make them ideal for the unpredictable UK weather. At the same time, the gigantic recycled soles give off a sculptural feel â€” as if youâ€™re wearing a piece of art. – Andrea Sacal, Associate Editor
Corteiz x Nike Air Max 95 â€œPink Beamâ€
Thereâ€™s so much to love about the Corteiz x Nike Air Max 95 â€œPink Beam,â€ from its bold hits of pink and low-key camo pattern to the viral mayhem it caused in the Big Appleâ€™s streets. I saw the chaos first-hand, and every time I put these Air Maxes on, I think back to that day. Iâ€™ll never forget sprinting down 34th Street to capture footage and all the frantic energy/excitement of everyone who sprinted, drove or biked from the Nike billboard in Midtown down to the Lower East Side bodega that the coordinates it showed led to. Even buying the shoes in that bodega was an experience that felt true to the city they were sold in. Itâ€™s safe to say that Corteiz ruled NY that day. Looks-wise, I appreciate the flair provided by the pink and how itâ€™s contrasted by low-key details like the camo collar lining, embroidered C on the toe and Alcatraz motif on the tongue. Youâ€™ve got to really look at them to see all the details. Between the experience and the design, this was an easy pick for my shoe of the year so far. – Nick Llanton, Senior Social Media Coordinator
NEIGHBORHOOD x adidas NMD S1 Boot
Initially, this design failed to capture my attention as the fusing of NEIGHBORHOODâ€™s Americana inspiration and the NMD S1â€™s modern detailing overwhelmed me. However, I stumbled upon it again on release day and I took a moment to envision its potential in combination with my wardrobe. This quickly led me to finding inspiration and, much to the disdain of my significant other, I indulged in some much-needed retail therapy, citing the return policy as a backup plan if my vision were to fail me.
Upon arriving, I was pleasantly surprised by its execution, noting the flexibility and seamless flow of both the Velcro and magnetic strap systems. On-foot, its weight and elevation conjured confidence while its profile fit snugly into the baggy proportions I favor. Arriving at the start of summer, itâ€™s no surprise that it failed to receive much momentum behind its release. Though, as I look ahead, I expect my patience to pay off nicely with this pair, solidifying it as my leading sleeper pick for 2023â€™s sneaker of the year conversation. – Logan Fairbrother, Associate Editor
Converse Addict Chuck Taylor Canvas Ox â€œNatural Whiteâ€
Iâ€™ve always been a fan of Converse Addict â€“ a franchised line of Converse thatâ€™s only available in Japan â€“ and its mentality. The brand knows itâ€™s expensive; they know itâ€™s for fashion nerds; they simply donâ€™t care. The previous pairs have been a mix of over the top elements or with distinctive patterns, but when I found these in my last trip to Osaka in â€œNatural White,â€ they were a no brainer. The true definition of â€œIYKYK,â€ what makes these the perfect beater for me is the rugged build, simple iconic colorway, and of course the dead giveaway Vibram badge on the sole. I hope these last me for years, which they probably will. – Eddie Eng, Editorial Projects Director
P_Andrade x FrogR Clogs â€œBlackâ€
The partnership between the creative and the traditional footwear brand, both Brazilians, gained a new stage that celebrates the diversity of the Frogs present in the Amazon. In addition to being perfect for everyday use due to its comfort and design, the composition of the product takes into account material considerations that are less harmful to the environment. – Marcus Vinicius, Social Media Manager
Jarritos x Nike SB Dunk Low
As a fan of SB Dunks and skateboarding sneakers, I have witnessed how a solid silhouette can be transformed into an iconic piece with the right use of elements. In this pair, I believe the colors and materials accurately represent Mexican heritage that has transcended to other countries. But above all, the brand management in the United States exemplifies what any brand should ideally do to remain relevant and stay top of mind for those who keep it real on the streets. The Jarritos x Nike SB Dunk not only represents a good-looking sneaker but itâ€™s also a cultural statement for Mexico. – Cesar Ortega, Senior Culture and Community Manager
Cecilie Bahnsen x ASICS Gel-NYC
My favorite sneaker for the first half of 2023 is the Cecilie Bahnsen x ASICS Gel-NYC. This collaboration really stood out to me as it really reminded me what a brand collaboration could yield. This sneaker pushes the boundaries of manufacturing and artistic expression. I love the execution of the intricate details from the nylon flowers to the hand-embroidered 3D acrylic flowers. Iâ€™ve practiced hand embroidery myself so I understand the time and precision required. I was captivated by the intricate tailoring to make this a unique and beautiful looking piece, yet itâ€™s still grounded in the function of it being a really comfortable shoe. If sneaker collaborations make noise, this sneaker makes music. – Peter Park, Buyer
Jae Tips x Saucony Grid Azura 2000
I fell in love with the story behind this shoe. As a Bronx native it makes me so happy to see creators from my home town killing it in the game. Jae Tips took a shoe that was often overlooked and brought it to life. As a florist and fanatic of anything pink, Iâ€™m in love with this design. Its playful assortment of colors are a bold statement, and theyâ€™re super comfortable to rock. Aside from the floral touches, my favorite element is the â€œRemember Who Frontedâ€ embellishment because I feel that it represents the attitude of a true New Yorker. – Margaret Mendez, Customer Care Consultant