TSFJ's 8 Favorite Sneakers Of The First Half Of 2015

Sneakers can make for some interesting conversations.

For my Fourth of July festivities at Lake Merritt in Oakland, I decided to rock my Nike LeBron "Olympic" 9's. Not only are they one of my favorite sneakers, but I mean, just look at them. They personify AMERICA in every sense. During my time engaging in tomfoolery and shenanigans at the lake, I had multiple people come up and ask me about the Brons. Stories were shared, new friends were made and good times were had by all. Why? Because dope sneakers can bring the people together.

In the spirit of that sneaker love, our friends and family of The Sports Fan Journal came together to highlight some of our favorite kicks that have been released in the first half of 2015.  In the words of my sneaker sensei John Gotty, "Wear your sneakers."


Who: Brian Lauvray | @brianyarvual | Running Nerd
What: Adidas Ocean Recycle Prototype


Call it the “tremendous upside potential” shoe. It’s a prototype after all, and there are no assurances about this shoe staying on the market, being nice to look at or comfortable to wear. Still, the concept behind the shoe — tops made from plastic garbage salvaged from the oceans and soles made from sustainable materials — is a step in the right direction. Practicality of consumer goods isn’t something any of us consider on a routine basis, yet, here we are in a world that has hit “peak oil” and adidas is pushing the envelope of reusable and renewable. Granted, this decision isn’t all altruism and lollipops. Adidas is a company, and companies are around for profit. But if there’s a demographic subset of consumers geeked about buying a “green” shoe, it’s gonna be runners, yoga enthusiasts and others who have “more kale LOL” on their weekly Google Express shopping list.

Still, if the shoe fits the market and if in the ensuing years it’s cheaper to harvest plastic refuse from the oceans versus making more plastic that eventually ends up as refuse in the oceans, well, then die Marke mit den drei streifen may have stumbled on to something that other apparel companies can emulate. As it stands, the prototype ranks “modestly hot” on the 0-FIRE scale, the uppers’ striated lines (made from recycled commercial fishing nets) serve as an intentional or not nod to depth charts found on navigation maps of bodies of water, and the rather unpolished, possibly incomplete, soles and cushioning leave room for improvement and further tweaks. It’s an incomplete project and an incomplete grade of a B+, but the future for sustainable footwear took a big step in 2015.


Who: John Gotty | @johngotty | The Smoking Section
What: Nike Air Tech Challenge II PA 'Pinstripe'


Honestly, this year has been a bore with shoes. The only pair I really wanted was the "Pinstripe" Tech Challenges, and that's mostly because they're a plain, simple shoe ... and NAVY. I'm a fan of dark denim so a good navy shoe is always a winner in my book because they pair well together. It should also be mentioned that these share similar materials as those used on previous Grand Slam Pack pairs, not the lesser stuff we saw on GRs. Oddly enough, I picked a ATC II in last year's highlights so I think I have a thing for the model.


Who: Josh Naso | @silverfox8008 | Philly's Broad St. Bully
What: Air Jordan 7 Retro “Hare”


There are more variations of the Air Jordan 7s than perhaps any other sneaker in the iconic line. From the Dream Team-inspired “Olympic” and “Barcelona Days/Barcelona Nights” to the “Champagne” and “Cigars,” it seems there is a version of the 7s to please every sneakerhead’s palette.

For my money there is none better than the “Hare” edition. The all-white body of the sneaker provides a crisp base and is complemented beautifully by the red touches on the sole and the red Jumpman logo. There is a burst of color on the tongue, where green, yellow, black and red provide a nice pop for the sneaker. The same color scheme appears on the bottom of the sole and pays homage to both the early '90s release of the shoe and the “Hare’s” cartoon inspiration. This is exactly the type of sneaker you would imaging the Fresh Prince wearing, and the timing of the sneaker combined with the cartoon element immediately invokes memories of my childhood. Whether hitting the playground for some fun or having a casual night out, this sneaker is a perfect fit.


Who: Gerald Flores | @ImGeraLd | Sole Collector
What: adidas Ultra Boost


Adidas called "The Greatest Running Shoe Ever" when it debuted earlier this year, and they might not have been too far off. It combines two of the brand's newest technologies — Primeknit and Boost — in one sleek package. Even if you're not a serious runner, this shoe is hands down one of the most comfortable sneakers that you can just kick around in.


Who: Joe Boland | @revpaulrevere | Follow TSFJ on Twitter
What: Reebok Question 'Michigan State'


The original Questions, the ones that are white and blue, are my favorite sneakers of all time. I rock the low version on the regular to this day, despite the fact that every woman I have ever dated has hated them. I don't care because they're great. So great, in fact, that they're Reebok's most popular sneakers.

This year, Reebok came out with a Valentine's Day version, Easter version and "Pin Dot" version, but my personal favorite is the Michigan State Nostalgia version, paying homage to the original design while also honoring the 15th anniversary of Michigan State's National Championship team led by Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson and Tom Izzo with the green and white colorways. They're simple, beautiful and those damn shoes just don't wear out.


Who: Channing Beumer | @Chan_LoChicks N Kicks
What: Nike Air Max 1 Ultra City Collection 'Milan'

Air Max 1 Ultra Milan

Marching to the beat of one's own drum has always held a certain appeal in these eyes of mine, and as I've grown in my sneaker collection, I've come to realize how much my kicks reflect my eclectic personality. I've also come to realize that Europe does indeed get all of the best stuff first, and I can approach this real-life truth in one of two ways: grumble about it OR try like mad to nab these Euro releases and be one of the few and the proud rocking them in the U.S. of A.

So, when Nike announced the release of the Nike Air Max 1 Ultra City Collection featuring floral prints on the classic runner, I was feeling particularly girly and immediately issued a "heyyyyy." The pack, consisting of multiple colorways representing various fashion capitals like Paris, Tokyo, London, Shanghai, Milan and New York, is outfitted with flowers native to that country and finds its corresponding city inscribed in the silver lace locks and on the insoles of each shoe. Basically, for the fashion-loving sneaker woman (read: me) this here was a prime opportunity to throw versatility to the wind, embrace the bold and nab a little something I wouldn't see at my next sneaker convention.

Thus, the Nike Air Max 1 Ultra City "Milan" was copped and does the trick every time I'm feeling particularly original.


Who: Yong Yu | @retrospeaks | To Live And Style In LA
What: Nike SB Dunk Low 'De La Soul'

Nike De La Soul

I chose the Nike Dunk Low SB "De La Soul" as my favorite shoe frankly because it singlehandedly brought back the SB line from the brink of extinction. This particular release let me relive a bit of the "good ole days," before Dunks were retooled, before the God awful Dunk Mids and before dumbasses on social media spent all of their time bragging about purchases rather than wear them out in public. The idea of De La Soul Dunks might be rehashed, but I copped them with the hope that this would put some needed attention back into what was one time the big brother to Nike Sportswear. Now if I could only get SB to retro the FC line ...


Who: Eddie Maisonet | @edthesportsfan | The Versus Podcast
What: Nike Air Trainer 1 Mid x Fragment 'Beauty In Brick'

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The Nike Air Trainer I is a shoe I've come to love over recent years, as my favorite sneaker to casually wear all the time has ranged from the Nike Air Max 90 to the Air Jordan XII and the adidas Stan Smiths. As a man in my early 30s, I need a shoe that transitions well for any occasion from rocking a hoodie while going to Trader Joe's to go bougie grocery shopping to hanging out at the lake while sipping libations with the woes. (Is that how you kids say it?)

The brick red colorway on the trainers also remind me of the red dirt famously found in Oklahoma, although these shoes pay homage to Roland-Garros and the French Open. Oh well, I'll lie and say they're for Oklahoma anyway. All hail the Nike Air Trainer 1s.

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