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The Definitive List Of The Best Sneakers Of The Past 5 Years (And What They Say About The Wearer)

For decades, sneakers have been obsessed over by young and old people alike. But over the last five years, it seems like this obsession has become something people follow with even more crazed emotion and hype than ever before. And when you consider the types of sneakers that have been released since 2013, this starts to make sense. We have seen some truly spectacular sneakers hit shelves over this short period of time, and it's almost too much for even the most serious sneaker enthusiast to keep up with. With so many shoes being released these days, it's hard to keep track of which ones truly stand out.

But with this article, we've compiled 20 of the kicks that we think really stand out. These are sneakers that have proven to be incredibly popular, with tons of people buying these kicks over the last five years. Some of these sneakers are famous for being incredibly rare. Some are famous for being enjoyed by just about everyone. Some of these sneakers have made major leaps forward in the technology of footwear, while others have relied on retro, proven designs that were popular over a decade ago. But whatever the case, no one can deny that these were some of the best sneakers released over the last half decade.

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20 2013 - Air Jordan V "Shanghai"

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These sneakers were released all the way back in 2013, five years ago. And for those who love rare, limited edition kicks, the Air Jordan V "Shanghais" really scratch that itch. These were only released in Asia, meaning that wearing them in the West gives you major style points. As we all know, rare and limited edition sneakers are always sought after by true sneaker heads, so those who wear them today would probably be very deep into sneaker culture. These are now pretty old, but still very well-respected.

19 2013 - Nike HTM Flyknit Chukka

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In 2013, we started to see sneaker brands move towards lightweight, minimalist designs, and the HTM Flyknit Chukka is a clear example of Nike moving in this new direction back in the day. Today, we see a lot of sneakers that look very similar to this one, and we have to applaud Nike for taking some of the first major steps towards the "sock shoe" with this amazing pair of sneakers. What do these sneakers say about the wearer? Well, if they were rocking these five years ago, they were probably way ahead of the curve.

18 2014 - Adidas Pure Boost

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This was a very important sneaker when it was released in 2014, because it showed the world that Adidas was still worthy of sharing the stage with Nike. In the years leading up to this release, people started to come to the conclusion that Adidas had fell way behind Nike in almost every department. The Pure Boost featured cushioned soles that were found on Adidas running shoes, which made these some of the most stylish running shoes ever made. They could be used for just about anything, they were widely available, and they were affordable. These shoes are probably favored by loyal Adidas fans, and those who don't want to drop a huge amount on a pair of sneakers.

17 2014 - Nike Air Yeezy 2 "Red October"

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This wouldn't be an article about sneakers without the addition of the legendary Red Octobers. These are anything but affordable, and they definitely weren't designed with the average Joe in mind. While the Yeezy brand has become more accessible in recent years, back in 2014 these Red Octobers were only obtained by a select few. These are still worth an absolute fortune on the resale market to this day, due to their extreme rarity. What do these sneakers say about the wearer? Well, they're probably people who would do just about anything to get their hands on an exclusive pair of sneakers.

16 2014 - A Bathing Ape x Reebok Instapump Fury 

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While this article is dominated by sneakers from both Adidas and Nike, there is definitely room to talk about another brand which has been a huge name in footwear over the years - Reebok. This brand has fallen behind Nike and Adidas recently, but they still have the power to surprise us with sneakers like 2014's collaboration with A Bathing Ape. The niche Japanese brand is famous for camo patterns, and these Instapump Furies ended up looking surprisingly good plastered with the military print. People who favor these shoes are probably "hype beasts."

15 2015 - Adidas Ultra Boost

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We've seen the appeal of the Adidas Pure Boost back in 2014, but in 2015 Adidas followed it up with something even better - the Ultra Boost. This shoe did everything the Pure Boost did, but stepped it up several notches. The cushioning was even more comfortable than ever before, and it was an amazing blend of performance and style. The all white colorway sold out extremely quickly, with most people settling for the black and purple option instead. This shoe definitely appeals to those who want a running shoe with a perfect mixture of style and performance.

14 2015 - Adidas Yeezy Boost 350

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When Kanye West left Nike behind and started working with Adidas, it opened up a whole new world of amazing sneakers. One of the first pairs that really caught everyone's attention were the Adidas Yeezy Boost 350s. Released in 2015, it's not uncommon to see people still rocking these to this day. This was one of the biggest releases of the year, and it featured a primeknit upper with that classic boost sole. People loved these, and the types of people that wear them are those that love Yeezys.

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13 ASICS Gel-Lyte III ‘Made in Japan’

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3 years ago we started to see a shift from bright, flashy designs to a more minimalist, subtle styling for sneakers. 2015's ASICS GEL-Lyte IIIs were perfect examples of this, and it ended up being one of the more popular shoes of the year. ASICS is a well-known brand which has always been up there with the bigger names, and it's only fair to include at least one of their releases in this article. These shoes were hand made in Japan out of vegetable-tanned leather, and only 255 pairs were ever released. These shoes would probably be worn by stylish sneaker heads who prefer to show off their kicks in a more subtle way.

12 2016 - Acronym x Nike Air Presto

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To this day, this sneaker remains a true favorite, especially among those that love the emerging techwear trend. Acronym is a massive brand, and their collaboration with Nike was almost bound to bear amazing fruit. Improving on the Air Presto was no easy task, and there were those who said that it simply couldn't be done. But the sneaker proved everyone wrong, and these shoes were one of the most hyped releases of the year. Those who love these sneakers are probably big fans of Acronym, and techwear in general.

11 2016 - Nike Mag

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These sneakers have taken on an almost mythical reputation over the years, and they even have the power to blow any pair of Yeezys right out of the water. Do these shoes look vaguely familiar? They should. That's because they were inspired by the high tops found in the classic movie Back To The Future, and they were worn by Mary McFly after he travels into the future. These self-lacing shoes really do seem futuristic, and they're some of the rarest and most expensive sneakers on planet Earth.

10 2016 - Adidas NMD "Pitch Black"

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Although Adidas' Yeezy releases capture a lot of the hype, the brand's standalone sneakers are the ones that really push the ball forward in terms of sneaker technology. 2016's NMDs didn't have any niche brands or celebrities attached to their name. They didn't need that. Instead, they relied on the performance of a full-length boost sole, delivering comfort, style and technology all on one amazing package. Although the shoes were released in many different colors in 2016, and were definitely accessible to the common folk, the most hyped release was the "Pitch Black" colorway, of which only a few hundred were released. People who got their hands on these must have been very determined.

9 2016 - Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2

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While the Yeezy Boost 350 V2 might seem like a total rehash of the first 350s, the truth is that these represented a massive improvement on the first release. The changes to the sneaker were minimal, with a slightly higher upper section and the name emblazoned across the side. But the thing that made this sneaker truly different was the way it was marketed. Finally, Kanye West delivered on his promise to make Yeezys accessible for everyone. More sneakers were released this time, and the average person actually had a chance of getting their hands on a pair. Those that grabbed these were probably the types that wanted Yeezys, but were willing to wait until the right moment.

8 2017 - Off-White x Nike Air Presto

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Considered by many to be the best release of 2017, the Nike x Off-White Air Prestos truly made a massive splash when they hit. Just like the Acronym collaboration of the previous year, these kicks featured an updated take on a classic Nike design. Not only was this edition of the Presto a modernized version, but many would say that it was actually an improvement on the original design. A large tongue was added, as well as neat details such as a swoosh and the trademark Off-White design approach. These sneakers are favored by true sneakerheads, and those that can spot a less hyped shoe as the best option.

7 2017 - Nike Vapormax

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While many of the sneakers we've shown in this article seem to be cut from the same mold, the Nike Vapormax of 2017 was something entirely different. With Adidas' successful Boost line, Nike needed to come out with something truly innovative to prove it was still the top name in sneaker design. That new feature was a midsole made up entirely of air, which sets the Vapormax apart. This is a great shoe, and it is worn today by those who want to wear something different - something that isn't just another pair of Yeezys.

6 2017 - N*E*R*D x Adidas Pharrell HU NMD Trail

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There's another name in the sneaker world which is arguably even bigger than Kanye West, and that's Pharrell. He's been teaming up with sneaker brands for over a decade now, and people are still loving his releases. In 2017, the N*E*R*D x Adidas Pharrell HU NMD Trails blew pretty much all competition right out of the water, and it's not hard to see why. These sneakers are just plain gorgeous. They were also incredibly exclusive, with only a few hundred pairs released. What do these sneakers say about the wearer? Well, they would have to be absolutely obsessed with sneakers in order to grab a pair of these.

5 2017 - Adidas Yeezy Calabasas

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Yes, we're adding another pair of Yeezys to the article, because let's face it, Yeezys have dominated the sneaker market within the last 5 years. The Calabasas were different than what many people were expecting, however. These sneakers were based on a retro workout sneaker by Adidas called the "Power Phase." While many people have accused Kanye West of merely slapping his name on the shoe and calling them Yeezys, there are some positive things about this sneaker. Most importantly, they were the first ever pair of Yeezys priced at under $200, and this time they were truly made for the average person. People who like this sneaker probably appreciate retro 80s aesthetics, and don't want to spend too much on a pair of Yeezys.

4 2018 - Sean Wotherspoon x Nike Air Max 1/97

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With these Air Maxes, we've finally reached the current year of 2018. Although the year isn't over yet, we've already seen plenty of amazing releases so far, and these kicks definitely fall within that category. Many sneakerheads out there consider this to be the most popular release of the year. The Sean Wotherspoon x Nike Air Max 1/97 feature a retro cool styling, taking cues from the "dad shoe" trend which has become massive over the last little while. This multicolored, corduroy sneaker won't be for everyone, but it will definitely appeal to those who love to stand out.

3 2018 - Adidas Yeezy Boost 700 Waverunner

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Although this shoe was technically released in 2017, most people got their hands on a pair in 2018, when the sneaker enjoyed a much more widespread release. The shoe is clearly influenced by 90's running shoes, and it features suede, mesh, and a massive, chunky sole. All of this is so in right now, and it makes total sense that this was the most in-demand Yeezy kick yet. At $300, it definitely wasn't the cheapest option from Kanye West, but lots of people snapped them up nonetheless. Those who love this shoe probably like to have the coolest, newest sneakers the second that they drop.

2 2018 - Adidas Yeezy 500

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The newer Yeezys show a pretty noticeable departure from the "sock shoe" trend of years past, and that's probably a good thing. Most people agree that it's time for something new, and the Yeezy 500s deliver that... Kind of... These shoes are yet again based on 90's retro footwear (noticing a trend here?), and they even rely on technology developed by Adidas during that decade. Tons of layers of suede define this chunky shoe, and with hundreds of thousands of pairs sold in just one hour, they are incredibly popular in 2018. The 500s are probably favored by those who are slight hipsters.

1 2018 - New Balance 990v4 "1982"

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Our last entry in this article has to go to a brand that we've neglected thus far - New Balance. This brand has long been famous for making pretty unexciting but undeniably functional running shoes for decades, and they have come to define the shoe of the average joe. They're the type of shoe your dad probably wears - but luckily for New Balance, that's exactly the type of shoe that has become popular in 2018. And they're fully aware of this, with the 990v4 first being released in 2016, and again in 2018 to take advantage of the dad shoe trend. It's a shoe worn by just about anyone - but now it's being favored by those who want to rock that "normcore" look to the fullest.

References: complex.com, complex.com, complex.com

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