Editors’ Picks: Our Favorite Sneakers of 2023

Another year is coming to an end and it’s time for Hypebeast staff to embrace a holiday tradition — reflecting on our favorite sneaker purchases of the year. Nowadays, it feels as if the amount of shoes released in a year’s time is growing exponentially as we see everything from spontaneous team-ups to reimagined classics touch down on shelves each week. However, through all of that, the simple joy of find a pair you love and wearing it was as strong as ever. This year, the range consists of

Dylan Kelly/Hypebeast

I grew up playing soccer — like, a lot of soccer. I wasn’t a true talent, but I loved being out on the pitch each season, fantasizing about one day becoming as good as Lionel Messi. That was indeed delusional, but my love for cleats wasn’t nearly as deranged. Heading to the local sporting goods store to select the next flashy pair that I would make my signature for the oncoming seasons was peak childhood bliss.

When Rihanna relaunched her FENTY x PUMA Avanti, I was reminded of that excitement. The shoe itself is inspired by soccer’s greatest players — namely the late great Pelé, who defined the original Avanti’s legacy. Its folded tongue so perfectly articulates the memories I have of my child-sized soccer shoes, and its snug fit often spawns a joyful reminiscence. Plus, I know my 12-year-old self would have chosen the “Metallic Silver” colorway, had I been given the choice.

Today, I can confidently say that my big-league dreams are far, far behind me. But the FENTY x PUMA Avanti feels like just the right nod to my youthful goal. – Dylan Kelly, Editor

HAVEN x norda 003

Ross Dwyer/Hypebeast

For most of my adult life, I’ve shied away from any sort of slip-on sneaker. This wasn’t a choice born of distaste for laceless styles — far from it. It’s just that for me, as for so many other footwear-fancying individuals, sneakers often serve as a wearable portal to past memories. In the case of laceless shoes, that wasn’t a portal I wanted to slip into, though (pun intended). The reason being? When I was a young whippersnapper, it took me forever to learn how to tie my shoes properly. I wore slip-on shoes not out of any sartorial inclination, but because I couldn’t wear regular shoes to school as I’d be f*cked if they came untied in the middle of the day. If you were ever stuck at recess frantically bobbing and weaving your laces through and around each other, making a sad semblance of an effort to tie a knot — akin to a hapless heavyweight challenger trying to dodge a punch from prime Mike Tyson — you know exactly what I mean.

Then, like a sleek savior, the HAVEN x norda 003 loosened the ratking that had fearfully bound me to laced footwear for so many years. Not only is it the best-looking slip-on sneaker I’ve ever seen from both a silhouette and colorway standpoint, it’s unbelievably comfortable and absolutely loaded with tech. Custom bio-based Dyneema, a waterproof graphene membrane, Vibram foam and rubber, you name it and it’s there in spades. Even the vamp isn’t just neoprene: it’s infused with Dyneema to ensure it retains its shape. It’s techy, yet uncomplicated. It’s sexy, yet subtle.

Who knows? I might not go back to laces ever again. – Ross Dwyer, Managing Editor

Undermycar x atmos x ASICS GEL-KAYANO 14 “Pepper”

Logan Fairbrother/Hypebeast

Venturing to Japan for the first time this year, one sneaker brand was on my mind — ASICS. Initially, I was underwhelmed by the lack of SportStyle offerings despite browsing every shoe store I encountered. After traversing most of Shibuya and Harajuku, an olive and black GEL-NYC was my top choice, but I opted not to pull the trigger just yet. Thankfully, the stars aligned as my indecision was thwarted by news of Undermycar and atmos collaborating on the GEL-KAYANO 14. Returning to Tokyo on its launch day after a trip to DisneySea, I raced across Ginza with my adrenaline peaking when I spotted the two pairs through atmos’ storefront window. I may have been late to the party, but I understood the hype once I finally had the opportunity to hold a pair of GEL-KAYANO 14s in hand. As someone who discusses shoes for a living, it’s rare that designs truly impact me. However, the blend of both comfort and style made this the perfect pickup to add to my meticulously curated arsenal of sneakers while also driving home the point that shoe storytelling is at its finest when written by the owner, not the brand or collaborator. – Logan Fairbrother, Associate Editor

J Balvin x Air Jordan 3 “Medellín Sunset”

Marcus Vinicius Dos Santos/Hypebeast

2023 was a significant year for the Latin community, as it marked the first time some of its major global talents played a strong role in shaping their ideas with iconic brands. Among all the special editions, the third stage of the long-term project between the Jordan Brand and Colombian artist José Balvin was the one that brought me the most joy. The combination of a blank off-white upper with some more eye-catching elements from Balvin’s identity, executed on my favorite silhouette from the Jumpman, what more could you ask for? Receiving this pair as a gift with a special signature was the cherry on top and makes it incredibly special to me. Long live this partnership that has only improved with time. – Marcus Vinicius dos Santos, Social Media Manager

ASICS GEL-1130 “Kale Green”

Logan Slater/Hypebeast

When in doubt, you’ll find me in a pair of ASICS. This year’s pick goes to the GEL-1130 in “Kale Green.” In my opinion, it’s a sportier take on the “dad shoe” trend that has taken over the streets of New York, especially in womenswear. The silhouette’s nod to early 2000s running styles and green accents (I consider green neutral these days) evoke nostalgia and newness simultaneously. As someone who enjoys the gray area between casual wear and sportstyle, this pair always fits in — whether I am running errands, going to a workout or heading out for the night. In a world (and closet full) of sneakers, I’m someone who has one or two pairs by the door that I can always rely on. This GEL-1130 is definitely one of those pairs. – Logan Slater, Director of Brand Partnerships

Bad Bunny x adidas Response CL “Paso Fino”

Nick Llanton/Hypebeast

Undoubtedly, the Bad Bunny x adidas Response CL “Paso Fino” was my favorite sneaker of 2023. Ever since I got my first pair of the retro adidas runner, I’ve been a huge fan of the silhouette for its comfort, versatility, style and build. I’m also a massive Bad Bunny fan, so it’s a match made in heaven for me.

The Response CL’s in-line colorways were some of adidas’ most interesting work this year, but Bad Bunny took it to the next level by warping and distorting its most recognizable design elements. Though I like the “Triple Black” and “Boston Day” colorways as well, the “Paso Fino” was on another level with its earthy brown tones (that ecru mesh and dark brown nubuck!) and a tasteful dash of purple. It was a perfect option for the fall, and reminded me of delicious chocolate chip cookies, my favorite sweet treat. It also became my go-to travel sneaker, and I took it everywhere from New York to Peru. Last but not least, it matched up perfectly with the palette of Nadie Sabe Lo Que Va a Pasar Mañana, Bad Bunny’s latest album. – Nick Llanton, Senior Social Media Coordinator

Martine Rose x Nike Mule Shox MR4 “Safety Orange”

Andrea Sacal/Hypebeast

Martine Rose does designer sportswear best. She has rapidly become one of my favorite designers over the past year and allowed me to experience her creative process firsthand at her runway show during London Fashion Week. Her first collaboration with Nike was both unexpected and jarring, and I felt that I needed to get my hands on them. Although I was unsuccessful the first time around, I knew that the second time would be the one.

Her second Nike collaboration was that much better because she championed women in sport while delivering an impeccable range that revamped classic silhouettes in new ways. The Martine Rose x Nike Shox Mule MR4 was released while I was traveling abroad and had me glued to my phone waiting for the release. I ordered my pair before they sold out, and they have accompanied me worldwide ever since. They became a staple in my rotation, pairing perfectly with any outfit. – Andrea Sacal, Associate Editor

Children of the Discordance x COSTS x Salomon XT-6 ADV

Felson Sajonas/Hypebeast

Children of the Discordance (COTD) is one of my favorite Japanese streetwear brands out right now. The Salomon XT-6 ADV is also a go-to of mine from the brand and is one of the most comfortable sneakers I’ve ever worn. What’s best about the collab shoe is its artful look — COTD applied a baroque paisley pattern on the upper that is subtle, yet still eye-catching. It was the pair I wore the most this year for its lowkey flair and comfortable fit. Plus, on those cool and rainy days the design really held its own in terms of support, feel and durability. While it’s not completely waterproof, it still kept my feet dry and warm. It’s no coincidence that Salomon points out that the XT-6 ADV is the “preferred footwear of world-class athletes for ultra-distance races under harsh conditions.” While I probably will never wear them for running (unless I have to), I’m ecstatic to own this pair which I wear with everything, especially technical pants or lightweight shorts. – Felson Sajonas, Managing Editor for Branded Content

ASICS GEL-LYTE III “Shamrock Green”

Scott Chambers/Hypebeast

Pulling inspiration from Golf’s biggest major tournament — the Masters — the ASICS GEL-LYTE III “Shamrock Green” is loaded with nostalgia. Released in partnership with Malbon Golf, the colorway is as much of a display piece as it is a statement shoe. The hairy green suede represents the fairways with yellow accents alluding to flag pins while more subtle nods include a tan outsole representing the sand in bunkers. As an avid golfer, I love all of these direct references and appreciate that it takes some familiarity with the sport to recognize them. All in all, it’s not a daily wearer, but is definitely a fun conversation starter. – Scott Chambers, Account Executive

Air Jordan 3 “White Cement Reimagined”

Tyler Mason/Hypebeast

The Air Jordan 3 “White Cement Reimagined” stole the show for me in 2023. OG colorways have always held a special place in my heart due to their nostalgic feel and these deliver the timeless “White Cement” colorway that has played a key role in sneaker culture and design over the years. S/O Jordan Brand! – Tyler Mason, Account Manager


Julia Reis/Hypebeast

This sneaker symbolizes a union of Brazilian creative power with Japanese technology, opening up a horizon of possibilities for independent designers in my country. Additionally, the embellishments and colorway work very well with the overall concept and versatility of the model. – Julia Reis, Culture and Community Coordinator

New Balance 860v2 ”Earth”

Natalie Archip/Hypebeast

I stumbled upon this pair while looking for a “love at first sight” sneaker moment. It was tough deciding between this look and two other New Balance 860s, but natural colors tend to win for me. As a slim silhouette for the petite sneaker aficionados, the shoelaces stand out prominently which I love. Part of a two-shoe ”Earth and Mars” pack, this darker pair represents Earth with its silver accents and the embellished NB logo adding to the design neatly. – Natalie Archip, Brand Partnerships Director

Cecilie Bahnsen x ASICS GT-2160 Blue Trainers

Rachel Wohlfeld/Hypebeast

When I first saw Cecilie Bahnsen outfit the ASICS GT-2160 earlier this year in silver, I beat myself up for not grabbing it. Luckily, this blue colorway dropped a few months later and I made sure not to sleep on it. I love the versatility of the velcro for ease of wear and the blue and silver tones are perfect for the winter wonderland ahead. The femininity of the flowers combined with the sporty silhouette of the ASICS GT-2160 created a “chef’s kiss” moment. – Rachel Wohlfeld, Account Executive

Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 Low Golf

Ray Mate/Hypebeast

Playing golf in shoes that don’t conform to traditional golf attire is always fun. While I don’t mind getting decked out in an entire Country Club fit, I am usually dressed to play a casual round early in the morning and prioritize comfort. The golf version of the Air Jordan 1 Low doesn’t scream golfer at all and you rarely see it in action unless it’s a player exclusive on the PGA Tour or LIV. Obviously, you want to look different on the course, and I don’t think anyone got a good shot at getting these in the US. Shout out to my Nike family out there! Skateboarding Influences Everything. – Ray Mate, Senior Manager

Crocs Pollex Clog “Niagara”

Oscar Iu/Hypebeast

I wasn’t sold when the Crocs Pollex Clog first came out. But after getting my hands on a pair, I’ve really grown to appreciate how these were truly designed to challenge the limits of how one would define a sneaker. As my sneaker pick of the year, Salehe Bembury gives this new-mold silhouette the innovative Midas touch it needs in design and aesthetic. Comfy and versatile for more relaxed fits — I love to pair them with a statement sock for a bold look. If you’re still on the fence, give them a try and trust me, you’ll be converted to the Pollex Clog crew. – Oscar Iu, Director of Digital Strategy & Transformation
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