As it was foretold, 2016 is indeed the Year of the Shoe Roast. New kicks are being released every week, but the critiquing of said kicks is happening on a wider scale this year thanks to a deluge of spectacularly bad (and good) shoes that have been released so far this year. It's a fun time to get into sneakers, but it's important you know what is good and what is bad. Because you don't want to find out you bought the wrong shoes from a pack of 8th graders with thoughts on your "futon-looking-ass." In this spirit, the following is a survival guide on the 10 best and worst kicks of 2016 thus far and what type of person and purposes they were designed for. I hope it serves you well.
Worst: Air Jordan 12 "Blue Suede"
We begin things with the yet-to-be released "Blue Suede," also known as the Tobias Funke 12s. Strong enough for a ballplayer, soft enough for someone who wants an Oompa Loompa now. Made For transit between bottle waitresses.
Best: Crazy Explosive Primeknit
There are different schools of thought on this, but the main thing about adidas' Andrew Wiggins-promoted Crazy Explosive is that they are, in fact, good—a point that was swept under the rug when the shoes were unveiled in July. Fresh off the "Chef" Curry roast, the Internet's overriding animal mandate to Get These Jokes Off blotted out any chance for a fair trial. But make no mistake, the shoes Twitter sauteed as "wearable pieces of the Aggro Crag" and "Brokeass Sherpa Uggs" are actually fly. Made For: hiking, extended trips to the Co-Op.
Worst: Air Jordan 11 Closing Ceremony
The Jordan 11 Closing Ceremonys—a.k.a. the Lumiere Low, a.k.a. The Air He Went to Jared—are a simple ode to the Rio Olympic Games and cheap enough to leave behind if you have to flee the country in a hurry. Made For: the pastor/combo guard in your life.
Best: Kobe 11 Low “Black/Cool Grey”
Super spartan, super clean, per Kobe's standard. Also the pair of shoes you get after taking the red pill. Made For: Kobe fans whose life savings are counted in VC credits.
Worst: LeBron 13 Low Limited Phantom
August release from the LeBron 13 line. Comes with limited edition lawn clippings and American Sniper on Blu-Ray. Made For: Light yard maintenance and YouTube commenting.
Best: Ewing Eclipse Olympic
The most stylish milk jug you can put on your feet. Seriously. Made For: Obscure jersey wearers, not Knicks fans.
Worst: Starbury Independence
Stephon Marbury returned to the shoe game this July with the Starbury Independences— an affordable and globally conscious kick that looks like if a bowling shoe and a Lindor Chocolate wrapper had sex inside Speed Racer's helmet.
Best: Yeezy 750 cleats
The chunkier of the two football cleats debuted by Kanye West and adidas in September, the Yeezy 750 stays true to the Yeezy line's nouveau vagrant aesthetic while still having cleats at the bottom. Some people don't think it'll be supportive enough for NFL-level athletes cutting on the field. These people forget that all of Kanye's clothing is inspired by materials used by Vigo Mortensen in The Road to staunch the bleeding. Made For: Hypebeast tailgating. Full-contact lawnwork.
Worst: KD 9 "Birds of Paradise"
AND I SAID what about, fast breaks at Tiffany'ssssss? She said I think I, hate this damn turquoise. Made For: the Lilly Pulitzer Spring Collection.
Best: Reebok Question Mid Curtain Call
The Reebok Question "Curtain Call" is a small-quantity release put together by Packer Shoes to honor Allen Iverson's Hall Of Fame induction and the 20th anniversary of his signature shoe. Only 500 pairs will be sold at an event in New York City's Times Square this Friday (Sept. 16). If you can't get there, find someone who can. And then rob them. Made For: standing on tables and kicking over mixers. Tacky rubber sole allows for a strong, power stance as you accept the $8 ATM fee in this club.
Best: Air Jordan 7 "Tinker Alternate"
Beautiful '92 Dream Team throwback re-released by Nike for the Rio Olympics. Imbued with '90s nostalgia from the sole to the upper. Only downside is you can hear Magic Johnson drafting tweets if you hold the shoe to your ear. Made For: Bros, '90s babies. Dudes with Detlef Schrempf jerseys.
Worst: Curry 2.5 "Heavy Metal"
A backwoods garbage-fresco of camo, blues and whatever Under Armour had left laying around in the crispser drawer. Made For: ungainly nephews, treestand hunters, Ted Nugent.
Best: Air Jordan 12 Retro "Flu Game"
God bless whoever poisoned that pizza. Made For: ergonomically designed so that you and your friends wear them to the same party.
Worst: Nike Kobe Zoom Icon
The unseen kicks worn by the Zoltar machine genie. Made For: Kevin Hart. Just him.
Best: Yeezy 350 "Turtledove" Cleats
The low edition of Kanye's new gridiron couture line, the 350 "Turtledove" marries plastic spikes with Jimmy Choo sensibilities for the first football cleat that's also a driving shoe. Made For: all-terrain two-stepping, asserting dominance over the other Pee Wee football dads.
Worst: Pharrell Hu NMD
A Pharrell collaboration with adidas released in July, the “Hu” NMDs were ostensibly an attempt to make a moving statement against gun violence and division in America. Instead, we got the Binyah Binyah UltraBOOSTs. Comes with a pan flute and the begrudging respect of the Hyrule citizenry. Made For: Lil Wayne.
Best: Ultra BOOST Uncaged
Are like a cloud wrapped inside a double-meat burrito nestled within a 10-second hug from Keith Sweat. But for your feet. Made For: standing desk users, people with legs in general. DJs who know a guy.
Worst: James Harden Triple Black
This repugnant image purporting to be a promo shot of James Harden's new signature shoe surfaced on Twitter in August, prompting an immediate and fiery roast session of the adidas that wasn't a kick. But the jokes had to fly, and it was only after that we found out this mildewing street-couch of a sneaker was, in fact, just a prototype of a prototype of an idea that was beginning to germinate about Harden's signature kick. I am still including it, however, because of the aforementioned Internet statute regarding joke-making. Made For: transient hampsters that didn't qualify for Section-8 Hampster Housing.
Best: Air Jordan 4 Retro Cements
Nike brought back one of its opuses this year in the Jordan Cement 4s—a triumph of footwear engineering that may be the closest we ever come to answering the question "What kicks would God wear to an open bar?" I like to think all of the musicians who went down playing on the Titanic were wearing Cement 4s. It's better that way. Made For: proposing, bar mitzvahs, being buried, being born, giving your son the talk, Lollapalooza, objecting in court, finishing moves, baptisms, Friday.
Worst: "Chef" Curry 2 Lows
Last but not least, the roast that started a bonfire. The Internet's broiling of the "Chef" Curry 2 Lows after their debut this summer created an entire wave from scratch. For more than a week, the Internet cooked Under Armour's attempt at a casual Curry shoe, and had so much fun doing so that it continues to slander shoes any chance it gets, whether the shoe deserves it or not. The bonfire of the Currys is patient zero of the shoe roast pandemic. So make fun of the them, but remember next time you're enjoying another nice, well-done, signature shoe barbecue—it wouldn't be happening if it weren't for that "straight fire." Dan is on Twitter with marshmallows and skewers.