The luxury market has provided us with some scintillating sneakers in 2019. Balenciaga added even more mayhem to their Track silhouette, Prada expanded on their hugely successful Cloudbust, and Dior elevated their already-classic B23 by linking up with legendary Japanese artist Hajime Sorayama. It's been one of the most successful years on record for luxury labels in the sneaker game. Strap yourself in, this could get dangerous for your bank account.
Demna Gvasalia has done it again. Taking the reins at Balenciaga back in 2015, the Georgian designer has overseen some of the label's most successful sneakers. The Balenciaga Track.2 is no exception, the 176-panelled masterpiece seemingly more complex than the human anatomy. Resembling layers of muscle stretched across an exoskeleton, the Track.2 is composed with a network of leather and mesh panels, the faux-distressed portions adding depth and breathability to the chunky design. A throwback to more utilitarian runners, the Track.2 continues to dissolve the boundaries between high fashion and streetwear, the storied French house stomping down earth's streets and runways this year.
Y-3 ZX Torsion
adidas enlisted the help of Japanese master tailor Yohji Yamamoto to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Torsion technology. And the 76-year-old designer did not disappoint. Reinterpreting the iconic adidas runner from the 1980s, the ZX Torsion is composed with the subtle elegance typical of Y-3, the carefully muted tones emphasising the OG blueprints. Elevating the ZX Torsion with a high-end remaster, Y-3 delivered another classic from one of the world's most innovative, well-respected designers.
Prada Cloudbust Thunder
A sneaker dispatched straight from the future, the Prada Cloudbust Thunder is a followup to the cult classic Cloudbust. Debuting as part of Prada's menswear FW19 collection, the Cloudbust Thunder takes cues from the gabber and dance culture that was springing from the Netherlands during the 1990s. As loud as your LEGO set, the colour palette on the Thunder disorients like a rave in space, and continues to arrive in a kaleidoscope of colourways to close out 2019. Positioned somewhere between sportswear and science fiction, the Prada Cloubust Thunder is defined by its 3D eyestays and hefty rubber sawtooth soles, Prada again pushing the frontiers of sneaker design in 2019.
Louis Vuitton LV 408 Trainer
Virgil Abloh's meteoric rise in the world of fashion and streetwear has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. Appointed as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton last year, Virgil was quick to stamp his own vernacular on the French fashion house. Belonging to Louis Vuitton's SS19 men's collection, the LV 408 was Virgil's debut sneaker with the label, the 106-piece design made in Italy, with each sneaker supposedly taking six hours to stitch. Taking cues from basketball hardwood, the LV 408 is constructed with calf leather uppers and padded collars, with ‘408’ referencing the date of birth of legendary designer, Louis Vuitton.
Parisian label Kenzo are heading to the mountains with the Inka sneaker. The brainchild of creative director Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, the Inka is built with a mix of smooth leather overlays and mesh uppers – the bold, layered silhouette successfully navigating the nexus between fashion, streetwear and hiking. Taking cues from climbing equipment, the Inka is locked down by hiking-inspired laces, the design complete with a bold red ‘Kenzo’ patch, branded insoles, and ridged rubber soles. Lock it in, the Kenzo Inka is one of the most underrated luxury sneakers of 2019.
Things get a little wild when the all-conquering Virgil Abloh strays from the Swoosh. Case in point: the ODSY-1000. The unapologetic Off-White silhouette is going 1000mph in a dozen different directions, the free-form silhouette definitely not for the faint-hearted. Made in Italy with nubuck, mesh, and buffed leather, the ODSY-1000 distorts the ubiquitous Off-White logo, bending the signature arrows across the uppers. First unveiled during Paris Fashion Week, the ODSY-1000 joins the recent trail phenom transfixing the sneaker scene – the ridged rubber soles, signature zip ties, and gargantuan sole unit looking straight-up dangerous.
Hajime Sorayama Dior B23
Combining Hajime Sorayama's ‘superrealism’ robo-saurs, and Dior's highly refined B23 silhouette, the electric collaboration stomped on almost all other high-end releases this year. Already a classic in its own right, Dior employed Sorayama's expert hand (the 72-year-old artist has become a streetwear phenom in his twilight years) to elevate the B23 canvas to new heights. The delivery of soft, pink Cherry Blossoms contrasts against the violence of Sorayama's mechanised tyrannosaurus to deliver an absolute masterpiece.