Editor's Pick, Style

23 sneakers that made 2023

23 sneakers that made 2023

Nothing quite captures the attention of the fashion-forward tastemakers and the general masses like a good sneaker. And yet for its seemingly simple premise, the constitution of a “good” sneaker is admittedly more elusive than it appears. Primarily designed for sports with a double purpose of comfort and style, the difficulty perhaps lies in part due to the wide range of styles that are ever-present, in rotation, and constantly battling for their place as the “It-Shoe”. The chunky dad, the slim street, the leather, the suede, the shiny metallic— the list goes on. A brand can only hope to envision and create a sneaker that finds its place in the zeitgeist, let alone leads the charge.

It is no surprise then that collaboration after collaboration is made in an attempt to achieve this, with brands often lumping unbeknown combinations in sometimes contrived fashion, with few being able to truly emerge a victorious shoe. The evasiveness of the task, however, begets credit where credit is due, especially when a sneaker can transcend the confines of appealing to a singular audience. Which shoes then were able to achieve this enigmatic task? A good number — 23 to be exact.

Beyond the obvious numerical parallel to the year, the number 23 holds a special place for NBA enthusiasts and sneakerheads alike. The iconic jersey number of none other than basketball’s biggest name, Michael Jordan, and its relation to Nike’s signature shoe line the Air Jordan. So, in a testament to the legacy of arguably the preeminent basketball sneaker, to MJ and the Jordan brand, Men’s Folio has collated 23 sneakers that made 2023.

1. Adidas Sambas x Wales Bonner

To start off the list, we consider perhaps the year’s definitive shoe — the Adidas Sambas. Spotted on the feet of just about every celebrity and TikTok fashion influencer steeped enough in pop culture, the classic shoe first released in 1949 has ridden an unparalleled resurgence this year. Perhaps its fame is half in part due to the diverse and eccentric colourways, patterns and materials that it now boasts, particularly in Adidas’ immensely popular collaboration with designer Wales Bonner. The other half can be attested to its versatility, clean slim-cut and the proliferation of the Blokecore aesthetic.

2. Comme des Garçons x Salomon Slip-On Platform

It doesn’t get any chunkier (platformier and slip-onier) than this. This CDG and Salomon collab brings three of sneaker’s biggest trends to new heights and manages to create a sleek futuristic iteration of it.

3. Bottega Veneta Orbit Sneakers

With notably subtle brand labels on the sneaker’s body, the Bottega Veneta Orbit is the brand’s answer to the Normcore aesthetic that has worked its way into the world of luxury this year. No less in thanks to certified it-sneaker makers, Hailey Bieber and Emily Ratajkowski, who were both photographed sporting the Orbits in the wild. Celebrity endorsement aside, the versatility of its polished design certainly makes for a multi-occasional sneaker.

4. Dior B57 Trainer

There is a court-side appeal to Dior Men’s arguable hero product of the year. Despite being a newcomer, the B57 — inspired by the athleticism of basketball — has earned its position as one of the house’s essentials. Sported on nearly every A-Lister imaginable, it is unsurprising that the glorious calfskin creation has a spot so high on our list.

5. Sandy Liang x Salomon XT-Expanse Sneakers

It has been a big year for New York based Chinatown-grandmother-inspired brand Sandy Liang. Now synonymous with embracing the notions of nostalgia, femininity and girlhood, it is no wonder that its collaboration with Salomon — in a colourway inspired by the iconic pink-coloured 90s Pokemon Jigglypuff, no less — was so highly coveted this year. The result: the Salomon XT-Expanse looks stolen straight out of a Fairy-Type Gym Leader’s closet.

6. Nike x Martine Rose Shox R4 Mule “Safety Orange” Sneakers

With a colourway heavily inspired by football jerseys from the ’90s, Martine Rose has once again melded the seemingly clashing notions of the dress shoe and football boot into this year’s iteration of the Shox R4. Repped by the US Women’s Team and Martine Rose’s muse for the collection Megan Rapinoe at the 2023 Women’s World Cup, the polarizing shoe has become infamous for its raised-columned heel and squared-off toe.

7. Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66

In a pointer to the year’s obsession with atheletic-styled attire, no other shoe has quite captured the eye of culture like the Mexico 66. Its uncanny resemblance to the football boot silhouette is no coincidence, instead is a conscious adoption of the football-aesthetic to daily casual wear. It appears that to truly embody the Blokecore aesthetic is to own a Mexico 66.

7. AMBUSH x Nike Air More Uptempo Low “Black and White”

Inspired by a merging of defiant skate culture and a Nike basketball OG, fashion designer and creative director for AMBUSH, Yoon Ahn — has proven that she walks the talk. The first-ever low-cut iteration for the Air More Uptempo, the collaboration is in itself an act of defiance to the status quo, challenging the tried-and-tested silhouette in its reimagination.


Hyperfemininity meets the contemporary and technical sports shoe in this partnership between the Danish womenswear label, Cecilie Bahnsen and ASICS. Riding the year’s metal-mania, the GT-2160 is embellished in silver with the notable couture attention to detail that Cecilie Bahnsen is famed for, while grounding itself in a familiar ASICS form.

9. Tom Sachs x NikeCraft General Purpose Shoe

Following allegations of a toxic work environment, it seemed unlikely that we would see an updated Mars Yard (the first collab between the Tom Sachs and Nike), let alone another collaboration between the two. And yet, to everyone’s surprise, the General Purpose Shoe was born. Fronting the notion of stark footwear utilitarianism, the collab is crafted meticulously with the idea of our shoes being mere tools to propel us to achieve our aspirations and has been hailed as the new uniform for the Tom Sachs Studio Team.

10. Balenciaga 3XL

First debuted in “The Mud Show” for the House’s Spring/Summer 2023 collection, the 3XL arguably became one of the most anticipated sneaker releases for the brand since the Triple S. The 3XL is no exception to Balenciaga’s notoriety with the avante-garde with a chunky design, horizontally extended back heel and worn-out effect on the fabric, the sneaker is undeniably a statement piece for the fashion-forward and bold.

11. Miu Miu x New Balance 574 Striped Velvet Sneakers

Some shoes are culturally relevant not for design nor for celebrity endorsement, instead, they are the talk of the town for their price point. The newest Miu Miu x New Balance collaboration undeniably boasts a heftier price tag than other collaborations from the sneaker brand. At a whopping thousand dollar minimum value (depending on location), the sneaker became famed for its minimal design changes from the previous Miu Miu X New Balance collaboration. However, its inspiration is clear — with velvet becoming a designer favourite this year. The plush tactile experience it offers is unlike any other fabric, and when paired with a striped imprint offers a distinctive texture to the shoe.

12. Maison Mihara Yasuhiro Black Peterson Original Sole Sneakers

Maison Mihara Yasuhiro has become an idol-favourite, and for good reason. With shoes from the brand spotted on the feet of BTS’ Jungkook, ATEEZ’s Mingi, Seventeen’s The8 and more, the Black Peterson is a celebrity-endorsed low-top creation that is representative of the clay-inspired artisanship behind the Maison’s shoe designs.

13. Fenty x PUMA Creeper Phatty

The Creeper has finally returned. Phatter than before. First released in 2015, the Creeper took the culture by storm with its rigged rubber outsole and platformed silhouette. Reimagined by Rihanna once more, the Phatty boasts bold new colourways in Lavender, Blue and Black and is notably chunkier with an extra-padded design and fatter laces.

14. Louis Vuitton Trainers


All eyes have been fixated on the future of the now producer/celebrity-helmed Louis Vuitton since Pharrell Williams has taken over as its Men’s Creative Director. New iterations of the Maison’s iconic trainer have been released this year as a digital exclusive, with variations in green and red. Though fronting new leadership, the sneaker is still Louis Vuitton-ed with brand monograms and motifs riddled across the shoes’s body and sole in a style that is evidently the brand’s own.

15. Brain Dead x Oakley Factory Team Chop Saw

Since LA-based creative collective, Brain Dead revived the Oakley Factory Team last year, the duo have breathed new life into some of Oakley’s archival shoe designs. The Chop Saw is an embodiment of the team’s penchant for creating and reimagining vintage designs with an avant-garde twist. Named for its signature jagged rubber sole, the shoe fronts a memorable silhouette that separates it from other revival sneakers in the mix.

16. Jordan 1 Retro High OG Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse

The Spider-Verse knows no bounds, not even to sneakers. With the release of the highly anticipated sequel to Sony’s animated Spider-Man universe this year, Nike and the Jordan Brand have taken inspiration from the film in its second spider-iteration of the Air Jordan 1. Sporting a vivid red colourway, high top silhouette and animation-inspired upper, the sneaker undeniably looks Miles Morales-approved.

17. Loewe x On Cloudtilt Sneaker

Relative newcomer On has found itself backed by a luxury house that has pushed its “Cloud” technology sneakers to new heights and audiences. The third collaboration between Loewe and the Swiss sportswear brand meshes the luxury house’s clean aesthetic with the technological prowess and design sense of On, making for a sneaker that feels “cloud-like” when walking as attributed to its honeycombed soles.

18. Golden Goose Super-Star Distressed-Finish Sneakers


Do not sleep on Golden Goose. Though its popularity might have waned; 2023 saw a resurgence in demand for the distressed finish. Plus, if you have yet to notice, the brand’s emblematic star motif works in favour for this year’s adoration of graphics. A testament to the timelessness of sneaker culture, 2023 has elected the Super-Star as a keeper in one’s rotation.

19. Raf Simons Pharaxus Sneaker Off-White


Raf Simons has long become emblematic of youth culture and modernist design — the Pharaxus is a perfect exemplar. The brand’s take on the white chunky sneaker is elevated through caged and panelled detailing on the exterior body of the shoe, making for a two-toned clean sneaker that still is notably Raf Simons-contemporary.

19. Nike SB x Air Jordan 4 Pine Green

A Nike SB and Jordan collaboration always makes big waves. The Air Jordan 4 Pine Green is no exception, considering the immense demand for the shoe and high resale value. Coming 4 years after its last collaboration, its newest joint sneaker functions doubly for skating and hooping with a silhouette revisit to the original 89′ Air Jordans for greater durability on the basketball court and in the skatepark.

20. New Balance 2002RD Lifestyle

Completing the trio of “It-Shoes” in 2023 is none other than New Balance with its laid-back off-duty running-errands aesthetic. Rocketing itself to become the default grocery-shopping kicks with the help of celebrities like Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner, New Balance has its work cut out for them with multiple of their classic silhouettes going viral this year. The 2002RD is a suede iteration of its 2000s classic, reimagined as a stylish lifestyle sneaker.

21. Hoka One One x Satisfy Clifton LS ‘Celadon Tint’

Hoka has found itself at the top of many “best-running shoes” lists this year — for good reason.  A relatively newer name to the athletic shoe scene, the brand quickly made headway as a choice pick for runners in the big leagues, as afforded by its technical expertise. Maximising lightweight design with enhanced cushioning, and a style that points to a trickle-down effect from the Gorpcore aesthetic, its popularity can be attributed to the desire for utilitarian-focused performance shoes that are able to dual as lifestyle sneakers. Its collaboration with Satisfy does exactly that — melding lifestyle versatility and technical performance into one.

22. Prada Systeme Brushed Leather Sneakers with Bike Fabric and Suede Elements

Closer inspection of the Prada Systeme reveals a clear dress-shoe inspiration from a brand famed for just that and more. With a striking three-dimensional raised edge to hide its laces, this Prada sneaker is all at once sleek in its curved silhouette, à la mode with its chunky rubber sole and contemporarily edged with leather and suede elements.

23. Asics Gel-Kayano 14

Rivalling the Sambas in terms of resurgence ability, ASICS shoes have become a cornerstone of the dad-core running shoe and the Y2K aesthetic. A reimagining of the GEL-KAYANO 14s from the late 2000s, this iteration has refurbished materials, components and colourways while staying true to the design language of the OG Kayano.