The Swoosh reigns supreme as a footwear giant, but the brand can sometimes overwhelm consumers with a myriad of options. Ranging from current collabs to stand by silhouettes, the brand has a sneaker for just about every activity. Between new sneakers for hooping to catching up on the most recent and popular styles, to must-have collabs, we rounded up the 20 best Nikes to buy right now. Cash in on nostalgia and re-up on iconic styles with these can’t miss Nike styles.
The 20 Best Nike Shoes to Buy Right Now
1. Nike Flyknit Trainer
Reason to buy: Combines the simple touch of a Nike GR with the impossible-to-price clout from a Kanye West co-sign.
The Nike Flyknit Trainer is a prime example of what happens when a smartly designed sneaker falls into the hands of the powerful influence of Kanye West. The sneaker originally debuted in 2012 and the latest rumors surrounding the silhouette have a re-release slated for 2020. The OG black/white colorway holds a special seat in sneaker history as an under the radar sneaker that rose to popularity after West was spotted rocking the pair. The silhouette skyrocketed in popularity and gave way to the almost equally popular Nike Flyknit Racer. The 2012 release date is important too, right at the beginning of modern-day athleisure, West choosing to go with the Flyknit Trainer gave a green light to the “sneakers with any outfit” trend that opened the door for the peak of trainer hype that the industry has experienced during the past decade. The sneaker features a Zoom Air midsole with a Flyknit upper, a new Nike material that at the time rivaled the primeknit comfort from the brand with the Three Stripes. Be a part of sneaker history with the low-cut athletic look that helped bring forth the modern era in popular footwear.
2. Nike Air Max 90 (2020)
Reason to buy: The recently retooled classic reboots the classic robust silhouette with technical updates for the modern era of footwear.
The Nike Air Max 90, one of Nike’s best selling sneakers, almost went by the name Nike Air Max III. The sneaker designer, Tinker Hatfield, made a brand new window to show off the Swoosh’s Air Max technology and gave the sneaker bright color accenting to draw attention to the visible tech. The 90 has a bulky structure and even though it’s been replaced as an athletic sneaker it still helps lead Nike’s sales as a popular silhouette for casual wear and comfort while walking. The 90 saw a recent re-release for 2020 as the OG look underwent a slightly modern makeover for the new trends in footwear. Shoppable colorways include Blue, Pink, and Mossy Green. Check the video below for a closer look at what makes this 90 “new.”
3. Nike Air Span II
Reason to Buy: The retro sleeper that you’re still hitting SNOOZE on.
Among other high profile sneaker releases of 2018, the Swoosh snuck in a retro of the Nike Air Span II, a lesser-known retro silhouette that hasn’t been given its proper due. Heralding from the late 80s and early 90s, the sneaker is a boxy icon from sneaker days gone by and has made a full-force return in OG colorways and high profile collabs with brands like Patta. The sneaker is a personal favorite and a great addition to any rotation craving an injection of retro heat. The model received high praise from iconic sneaker journalist Gary Warnett whose passing in 2017 was recognized with an epic custom sneaker in his memory.
4. Nike Air Force 1
Reason to buy: The true neutral good and chaotic evil of sneakers
In the meme economy, a black Nike AF1 sneaker says a lot, and it's not good. Similarly so, a fresh and crisp pair of white Nike AF1s sends a different type of message. Despite what modern interpretations of the style suggest, the Nike Air Force 1 is one of the only truly “iconic” sneakers that exist. Low price point, impossibly and timelessly cool, the type of sneaker you want to buy every 6 months or so. Add a little bit of New York flair to the classic sneaker by buying the Supreme branded iteration which was rumored to restock every now and again to keep true to the ethos of the sneaker’s wearability and forever popularity.
5. Nike x Off-White Waffle Racer
Reason to buy: A low entry point to cash in on the Off-White hype
There’s very little that doesn’t have the currently cool fingerprint of Virgil Abloh. The LV designer and director of Off-White is not only the come to fruition prodigy of Kanye West but has recently set himself above minor celebrities with his recent Nike collaboration. Directly placing him into the forefront of the sneaker world, his 2017 contribution to the culture can’t be overestimated and has been the talking point of sneaker style for the past few years. Even if the price point is too high to get in on the original 10, Abloh has been putting his signature touch on other models like the Dunk Low SB and the waffle racer, a great silhouette that holds a sense of nostalgia for the brand’s humble beginnings. Snag his version of the waffle racer, direct from Nike for one of the least expensive Nike x Off-White sneakers out right now.
6. Nike ACG Dog Mountain
Reason to Buy: Hit the hill post-quar with the perfect sneaker to keep you going–and it doesn’t look half bad anyway.
Nike ACG has had some absolute hits, especially considering the recent gorpcore revival that has put heavy synthetic layering and complex technical aspects at the forefront of footwear and style in general. The ACG Dog Mountain is the perfect remedy for some post quar activity. For those itching to get outside and put their closeted outerwear to work, you’re going to need the right sneaker to get you there. The Dog Mountain takes on a heavy treaded outsole with a light Nike foam midsole and rather lightweight construction. The silhouette proves true for outside running as well as SOHO street style. The sneaker of course is dressed in Nike’s consistently cool, ACG color schemes of tonal earthy colors mixed with bright, punchy vibes of 90s outerwear.
7. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37
Reason to Buy: Update your pavement pounder with the newest from Nike running
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 is the newest iteration of Nike’s running prominence. The Zoom Pegasus line has been a consistent deliverable from Nike in terms of updated materials, running tech, and highly popular runner silhouettes. The most recent offering from the Pegasus line features more foam in the midsole for a neutral run fit for the masses. If COVID-19 has taught me anything, it’s that I crave a good outdoor run and by the time this is over, I’ll certainly be in the need for a good run and a new habit. The Pegasus 37 is the antidote for this nationwide involuntary solitude that has most ready to climb the walls to be back outside climbing hills.
8. Nike PG4
Reason to Buy: Best sneaker for hooping
Update your hoop sneaker with the best from Nike’s recent basketball silhouette. With The Last Dance getting sneakerheads thirsty again for performance basketball silhouettes, the folks at Nike have the thirst-quenching formula -- served in the form of a Nike Paul George 4 that will have you back on the court faster than you thought. The PG4 is the most recent iteration from the PG signature line and when it comes to basketball sneakers, signature models from the Swoosh are always a reliable source for on-court performance. The silhouette features a full foam midsole, outsole made with fast, cutting movements in mind, and a full zip on the tongue for a locked-in feel. Play like Paul George with his fourth signature silhouette from Nike.
9. Nike Cortez OG
Reason to Buy: From west coast swag to an iconic moment in film
Body: The Nike Cortez OG lives a double life as a west coast sneaker icon to a one-off from Forrest Gump. The sneaker has been seen in several colorways, a house shoe for Kendrick Lamar, and custom iteration for tennis legend Maria Sharapova, but it may never surpass its red, white, and blue colorway being given to Tom Hanks in the classic piece of Americana. Despite its many faces, the sneaker has long-running origins with Nike. It originally was a response to Adidas’ Aztec sneaker which prompted the father of the brand Phil Knight to ask the question “What was the name of that dude who killed all the Aztecs?” bringing Knight and others at the Swoosh to name their new sneaker “Cortez.”
10. Nike SB Dunk Low
Reason to Buy: SB hype is peaking, cash in before the trend falls
Whether you’re a die-hard skater or not, the SB Dunk Low is a fan favorite. Utilized by skaters for its wide outsole and low top cut, the sneaker has found a rebirth in popularity with high profile collabs from Travis Scott and Virgil Abloh’s Off-White, however, the sneaker has seen a round of GR releases which feature some solid colorways. The recent “Kentucky” and “Syracuse” colorways saw a hyped drop sans the high profile touch of Abloh or Scott – showing the brand can still pump out regular classics without the touch of a celebrity or influencer. Watch out for a non-Off-White round of SB Dunk lows dropping soon for those looking for a solid SB without the extra zip tie tags and novel lacing systems.
11. Nike Spiridon x Stüssy Air Zoom Spiridon Cage 2
Reason to buy: A hot, new collab from Nike
The Nike Air Zoom Spiridon Cage 2 collaborated with skate brand Stüssy back in April of this year (better days) and immediately sold out despite working with the early 00s silhouette instead of a skate sneaker. The popularity of the collab showed off the cultural prowess of Stüssy and their ability to successfully collab on the same sneaker in a variety of styles. The “Fossil” colorway features a soft look with a tonal beige colorway and a black textured Swoosh on the lateral side of the sneaker. The brand dug deeper into the aesthetic of the shoe with a black, white, and silver color scheme that spoke more to the gorp aesthetic of the mesh and technical mechanics of the sneaker’s design. Cop this collab for a hot new pickup that promotes both brands in a stellar fashion.
12. Air Jordan 5 “Fire Red”
Reason to Buy: We get it, you watched The Last Dance
If not a lasting testament to the King-making and culturally important Michael Jordan, his ESPN docu-series has been a reinvigoration for sneakerheads. A reminder for how sneakers got to be so cool in the first place, MJ and his performance has proven to be one of the most influential devices in marketing sneakers. Since not being able to see Michael perform in real-life, the popular docu-series has sneakerheads hot again for the Air Jordan V “Fire Red.” The sneaker is a simple colorway of white and black with red accenting throughout, not to mention the silver touch on the tongue that truly brings the design concept together. A surefire cop for any ‘head, the “Fire Red” is a staple and no matter what anyone tells you, the sneaker DOES look good in shorts, after all, that’s how they were designed to be worn with.
13. Nike ACG Moc 3.0
Reason to Buy: WFH like an Olympian God in the ACG Moc slipper
With modern events in mind, more and more WFH’ers are opting for the slipper over conventional footwear and while there will soon again be a day to sport your new cops outside, the slipper life is the new go-to. While plenty of The Strategist articles will send you to the ultra-bougie and chic options, opt for the bonafide comfort and durability of the Swoosh and their ACG Moc 3.0 a slip-on “sneaker” with a lightly treaded outsole for light outdoor activity. An easy slip-on design meets with the ultra-lightweight feel of a modern Nike silhouette giving you an option for WFH footwear that you weren’t even aware of. Perfect for blogging inside and taking a small walk outside to maintain your sanity.
14. Nike Air Max 98
Reason to Buy: Personal favorite of the Air Max lineage
The Nike Air Max 98 has had a long run as a go-to trainer from Nike and since a recent revival in 2018, it has been the highlight of some eye-catching collabs and notable GR releases. If you’re looking to experience the game-changing technology of Nike Air Max, the 90 and 1 might be your most hyped up option, but the 98 might just be the better silhouette to experience the comfort. Unlike those aforementioned models, the 98 took notes from the Air Max 97 and featured a full-length air max unit that was fully visible. The 98 features some incredibly aesthetically pleasing design lines and an upper made of leather and mesh. Splurge on the 2018’s “Gundam” colorway or cop some quality GR looks directly from the Nike site.
15. Nike Daybreak SP
Reason to Buy: Legendary runner silhouette refitted for retro/casual style
The Nike Daybreak SP saw a recent moment in the spotlight courtesy of brands like Undercover and Sacai. Undercover played with the simple silhouette by adding a large addition to the heel of the sneaker. Sacai went in another direction with a “doubled-up” concept that should have been the sneaker of the year in 2019. Despite missing out on these higher-end iterations, the Daybreak SP is still a silhouette worth going after. The sneaker runs a little narrow but features the default Nike waffle outsole sure to stir nostalgia from the garage, shoe Dog days of Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman. The personal recommendation is the “Lavender” colorway to add a little flair to the rotation, but other, more basic colorways exist for those looking for a classic Nike sneaker that’s sure to take it easy on the wallet.
16. Nike Air Tailwind IV
Reason to Buy: Go ultra chunky with this time-tested Air Max silhouette
Cataloging the best of Nike from the past couple years and the Air Max Tailwind IV was another great look at the Air Max dominance that once reigned supreme over the mail order glossy catalogs that used to appear in the mail. The Air Max Tailwind IV dawned the Supreme red and black for a one-off that caught some eyes and the super high price point of $190 for some red trainers. Despite your hyped feelings for the collab, the recent round of GR colorways has some notable standouts. Most noteworthy is the “Desert Ore/Campfire Orange/Court Purple/Team Orange” seen below which features a smooth gradient graphic on the upper which works super well with the sneaker’s vertical design lines. Another interesting thing about the sneaker is that if you have them on while you’re arrested in Australia it might actually be a good thing.
17. Nike Mid Blazer 77
Reason to Buy: The not-so-Mids of the Mid-height sneaker world
As a rule of thumb, a “Mid” height sneaker is usually a clunky, un-aesthetically pleasing version of a sneaker that would probably look better as a “low” or “high” top. Not so true for the Nike Mid Blazer 77. One of the Swoosh’s first hoop silhouettes, the simple leather and rubber construction was named for the Portland team of the same name. Even though the Blazer hasn’t seen the court since, like most retro Nike silhouettes it lives on in the scene, lifestyle world, ready to be repurposed for those who spend their time creating their magic on the internet instead of the court. The Mid Blazer holds up as a part of Nike lore but also acts as a solid mid-height sneaker that’s available now in some good to go and simple color schemes. The most recent batch of Blazer releases sees the sneaker with a mostly white backdrop with a brightly colored Swoosh that pops off the upper.
18. Nike Presto Mid x Acronym
Reason to Buy: Experience the high-end tech of ACRONYM with a high profile Nike collab
Nike is constantly collaborating with the coolest brands and influencers but a while back they tapped high tech brand, ACRONYM, for a new take on their Presto. The Berlin-based creative and design agency run by Errolson Hugh, came through on the Presto with their signature high tech touch and dropped a three sneaker pack in 2018 which featured the entire gauntlet of color schemes, from a simple black/grey to a light coral and neon green to a full-blown eye-catcher of blue, pink, and neon green accents. The Presto has been having a hell of a year back then (easily the best sneaker from the original Nike x Off-White “The Ten”) and is a great option for someone looking to add a dash of a high profile and high tech to their rotation.
19. Nike Shox BB4
Reason to Buy: Relive the legend of Vince Carter and his famous footwear moments
When you think of Vince Carter you might think of his legendarily long career, “The Dunk” in 2000, his epic throwback jerseys from Toronto, and of course his relationship with Nike Shox. A sneaker technology that dominated the Swoosh’s sneaker tech for the early 00s, was also one of the selling points that brought me close to the brand when I first started getting into sneakers. Nike recently retroed the Nike Shox BB4 and luckily for fans of Carter or just the 00s basketball sneaker, it’s available in a variety of colorways directly from the brand. Put some vintage boing in your step with the Nike Shox BB4.
20. Nike Killshot 2
Reason to Buy: Let’s all remember J. Crew for this classic r/menswear moment
Body: Nike has a lot of iconic silhouettes, and for some reason, the performance/running brand holds a strange place in the hearts of those Goldman Sachs “every day is casual Friday” type guys with a special silhouette called the Killshot. The low top, the casual sneaker has proved to be a king of the relaxed fit and has been dominating the world of casual, low top sneakers. The Killshot 2 takes design cues from classic tennis sneakers and features modern updates in the form of leather and suede upper with a rubber gum sole that seems to really bring the sneaker together, not to mention the different colored Swoosh hits on the upper. Shop from a variety of colored Swooshes and try to find the J. Crew collab for an extra dash of “office casual.”