In the sneaker world, there are technological tipping points – moments that shift the culture, forcing all brands to follow suit or get left behind. In 2012, Nike ushered in a new era (perhaps the most important one in the new millennium) with its Flyknit technology.
The current market terrain is filled with woven shoe options, but the trend's genesis is solely tied to Flyknit. Nike intended for the technology to introduce a new era in running shoes, with a model boasting a featherweight, form-fitting design, micro-engineered down to the last stitch.
In laymen's terms: the woven construction shaves ounces off the traditional runner's weight, allowing for runners to better perform when hitting the pavement.
But, as we've come to see with many Nike products, the original Flyknit Racer and Flyknit Trainer had limitless possibilities as a lifestyle option to match its intended function.
We've seen Flyknit enhance numerous Nike models in the years since its grand unveiling, and the guys in Portland show no signs of slowing down its use. Stadium Goods ranks the best use of Flyknit.
10. Nike Air Footscape Magista Flyknit
Nike adds a Footscape sole to the bold Flyknit upper to create the Air Footscape Magista Flyknit, making their Magista soccer boot wearable anywhere.
9. Nike Free Flyknit Mercurial
Combining the high-cut Flyknit upper of the Mercurial Superfly with the comfortable Free 5.0 sole unit, Nike brought the sporty soccer style into the lifestyle realm with the dynamic Free Flyknit Mercurial.
8. Nike Zoom KD 10
Link: Nike Zoom KD 10
The taste of sweet victory will forever be tied to the Nike KD 10, the model Kevin Durant wore on the road to his first NBA championship.
Like its predecessor, the shoe is anchored by a Flyknit upper, while boasting an updated lacing system that ensures better lockdown support. Credit that to designer Leo Chang, who also outfitted the KD 10 with revamped ankle and heel construction, making the shoe easier to slip into.
The Flyknit construction makes it a breathable shoe, not to mention lifestyle-friendly in aesthetic.
The version above features black and white woven throughout the Flyknit, which earned it the "Oreo" nickname. Final details include a black overlay, white Nike branding, and a white 3/4 Zoom Air cushioning system.
7. Nike Air Zoom Mariah Flyknit Racer
At first glance, it would appear that the Flyknit Racer 2 would be a more appropriate name for this model. Then you understand that this shoe is actually a hybrid of the Air Mariah and Flyknit Racer. Despite its sleek look, this shoe lean towards the lifestyle side more than performance running.
6. Nike Kobe 11 Elite Low Premium
Kobe Bryant was unfortunately plagued by injury during the latter part of his career. But his most celebrated signature models sport low-top silhouettes, including the very last shoe he played in – the Kobe 11 Low.
Here's the Kobe 11 Elite Low Premium, featuring Flyknit construction throughout the upper. The result is enhanced flexibility.
The version photographed about represents the Nike Kobe "Fade To Black" Pack, released back in 2016. It was comprised of the eleven Kobe signature shoes, the Huarache 2k4, and the Hyperdunk '08 to honor The Bean's final NBA season. The models slowly transition from white with the Huarache 2k4 to a darker hue with each following shoe. Black finally appears on his final on-court model, the Kobe 11.
The pair above released in the Nike Kobe "Fade To Black" Pack back in 2016.
5. Nike Air VaporMax
Link: Nike Air VaporMax
The month-long Air Max Day 2017 celebration doubled as grounds for Nike to premier one of its greatest technological innovations to date, the VaporMax.
Noted for expounding on Tinker Hatfield's concept of visual air with the first-ever 360° air unit, the shoe also incorporates Flyknit construction into the upper for breathability and comfort. Thirty years of pushing the envelope of sneaker design culminated into an amalgamation of Nike's greatest innovations.
Needless to say that the combo of visible cushioning and Flyknit make for a grand advancement for performance running shoes.
4. Air Jordan 1 Retro High Flyknit
The "Banned" Air Jordan 1 is the barometer – the best and most important sneaker in history, for it set the tone for all trends in athletic footwear that followed.
We've seen the model undergo numerous cosmetic changes over the years, as it evolved from a beloved hoops into a legendary lifestyle model. But no design has been as ambitious as the formal merger between the Air Jordan 1 and Nike's innovative Flyknit technology: the Air Jordan 1 Retro High Flyknit.
The inaugural pair features the iconic black and red color-blocking, with the entire upper featuring a woven design. Leather coats the Swoosh, heel, and the Wings logo on the ankle. Additional Nike branding appears on the tongue, which is also leather.
3. Nike Flyknit Trainer
Link: Nike Flyknit Trainer
The Nike Flyknit Trainer is the second-ever shoe to feature Flyknit technology. It also features Flywire and foam cushioning to ensure comfort and better performance.
As of 2017, Nike is officially in the business of delivering Flyknit Trainer retros. That includes this slick white and black colorway. Featuring a mostly white upper and sole, black is integrated throughout the upper as well – most noticeably on the bold Swoosh on the lateral and medial sides.
Nike Flyknit Trainer branding appears on the tongue, while a heel tab adds a nice detail. A white midsole is a simple way to complete the design.
2. Nike Flyknit Racer
Link: Nike Flyknit Racer
Nike brought us the groundbreaking Flyknit Racer model – the first-ever to feature the technology – back in February 2012.
A true measure of innovation, the shoe sports a lean look built especially for marathon running. Perforations throughout the upper provide the wearer with a shoe that's breathable. And then comes the woven look, which is typically a mosaic for color schemes, as proven by the variations of Multicolor releases.
1. Nike Kobe 9 Premium
Style: 698595 109
So, many of your may be scratching your heads, wondering how this Kobe 9 tops the list. But we're more than happy to explain.
A product of Nike President and CEO Mark Parker, fragment design founder Hiroshi Fujiwara and Nike Innovation Leader Tinker Hatfield's HTM line, the Kobe 9 Premium "HTM" is a masterful display of sneaker design.
The model integrates Flyknit, Lunarlon, and Flywire technology in a way that's almost synergetic, with no one technology outshining the other. And that's without noting that the shoe maintains a fashionable look, despite the apparent dedication to form and functionality. This pair sports a fashionable mutlicolor design on the upper is beautifully offset by a white overlay, black Swoosh and midsole, and a gum outsole.