Off-White x Nike Sneaker
Off-White x Nike Sneaker

2020 Gift Guide: The Best Sneakers to Give as Gifts

Words by Noelani Piters | 12.11.20

Sneakers have become the ultimate common denominator in fashion. From OG streetwear lines to luxury labels, every brand seems to have at least one sneaker among their offerings. It also seems like everyone has at least one pair in their rotation. And why shouldn’t they? Sneakers are pure comfort for some and passion for others. They represent culture, history and — in some cases — luxury. If you’re looking for a sneaker gift that goes above and beyond this year, the resale market is the perfect one-stop shop: it not only broadens your sneaker gift options, but it’s also sustainable.

Stumped about where to start? Consider the details. “The more you know about the recipient, the better gift you’ll give,” says TRR Sneaker & Streetwear Valuation Manager Amir Azarcon. “If your friend or family member wants something specific, make sure they’re as thorough as possible. It’s very easy to get colorways and silhouettes mixed up if you don’t know what you’re looking for.” Read on as Azarcon answers all of your sneaker gifting questions and recommends the best sneakers to give as gifts, with help from TRR Senior Men’s Merchandising Manager Aaron McWilliams.

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How Do I Determine Their Sneaker Size?

Figuring out someone’s shoe size can be tricky, especially from hundreds or thousands of miles away. “You’ll have to do a bit of digging,” says Azarcon. “You’ll need to double check if the recipient has a wide foot or if they’re between sizes, but if you get lucky they’ll have a true size that you can stick with. It’s more important to know how the gifted shoe will fit. Some sneakers require you to go up or down a half size, so this is crucial information if you want to get the sizing right.” If you can, ask someone in their household to snoop around their shoe rack for sizes, and pay close attention to the brands. He adds, “Pro tip: women’s sneaker size conversion is always 1.5 up from the men’s size. For example, a men’s 5 is equivalent to a women’s 6.5.”

 

What Questions Should I Ask Them?

Even if you’re trying to completely surprise someone with a pair of sneakers, it’s important to know more than just size. “If you’re best sneaker friends, you’ll know what’s already in their collection like the back of your hand,” says Azarcon. “You’ll likely already know which sneakers they want the most because they can’t stop talking about them… ever. If you don’t know any of this, however, it’s best to ask a few exploratory questions. Ask what their favorite sneakers are, which colorways are their favorite, what their favorite pairs are.” When all else fails, have them send a link (or share their Obsessions page) to make sure you know exactly what they’re looking for.

 

What Should I Get a Sneaker Newbie?

Maybe your BFF has finally come around to sneakers, or maybe you’ve got a parent who just wants something casual and cool to wear around the house. No matter who is on the receiving end, sneaker initiates everywhere will appreciate one shoe specifically: the Nike Air Jordan 1. “There is no better place to start than the beginning, and this is the shoe that arguably started it all,” says Azarcon. “The Air Jordan 1’s place in sneaker history is well-documented as Michael Jordan’s ‘controversial’ first shoe — according to Nike, the NBA tried to ban this sneaker! The shoe’s timeless silhouette is even more popular now than it was when it first released in 1985.” A Jordan 1 is also the gift that keeps on giving — Jordans’ resale value is, on average, 200% of the original retail price (collaborations with Travis Scott, Supreme, Off-White and Dior keep this number high).

Another solid sneaker that’s a little more off the beaten path is the Maison Margiela Replica. “Margiela’s Replica is a masterpiece of minimal design and it makes an excellent gift for someone looking to get into sneakers,” says Azarcon. “The Replica was originally designed by adidas for the German army in the ’80s and ’90s, and Margiela famously featured customized vintage pairs in his Spring/Summer ’99 Artisanal presentation. The sneakers have gone on to become synonymous with Maison Margiela, with the house producing the sneakers in numerous fabrics and materials every season since.”

 

 

What Should I Get My Hype-Obsessed Friend?

If you know someone who loves to flex, Azarcon recommends giving them a little Louis Vuitton for their feed… and in particular, a pair of Louis Vuitton Trainers. Louis Vuitton Trainer sneakers first debuted at the house’s Spring-Summer 2019 men’s show, and feature a Louis Vuitton script logo in Creative Director Virgil Abloh’s own handwriting. “Abloh’s tenure at Louis Vuitton has been defined by this sneaker, which was inspired by an ’80s basketball shoe: the Avia 880,” notes Azarcon. Abloh’s refreshed take on the vintage Avia silhouette has made the Trainer one of the most coveted LV sneakers in the resale market. 

Louis Vuitton sneakers are Obsessed by shoppers on The RealReal 50% more than the average men’s sneaker, with Louis Vuitton Trainers leading the pack,” adds McWilliams. If your heart’s set on letting them unwrap Louis Vuitton this year, score a pair ASAP.

Sneaker Gifts for the Hype-Obsessed

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What Should I Get a Diehard Nike Fan?

You may think there’s such a thing as too much Nike… but not so for a true Nike lover. They probably wear their sneakers into the ground, and for that reason, more Nike is definitely what they’ll need. While there seems to be an infinite number of styles to choose from, the Air Force 1 is a staple shoe and style Azarcon advises giving any Nike aficionado.

“It’s safe to say that the Air Force 1 is the brand’s most iconic and beloved sneaker,” notes Azarcon. “Its classic appeal has carried it throughout the decades, embedding the Air Force 1 among subcultures and neighborhoods around the world. Its innumerable renditions make it the perfect gift for the most dedicated Nike fan. The spectrum is wide, from hard-to-find vintage pairs to more contemporary collaborations such as Nike x Comme des Garçons.”

 

 

What Should I Get Someone with Eclectic Taste?

We all have that one friend who bucks trends, deeply appreciates more avant-garde designers and in general marches to the beat of their own drum. Naturally, they’ll want a sneaker that jives with their aesthetic and isn’t completely ubiquitous for the fashion set… yet. 

“Go with any sneaker from the New Balance 990 series,” recommends Azarcon. “New Balance is a perennial dad sneaker brand, and has long been considered niche among sneaker enthusiasts. It’s finally getting more of the spotlight due to popular collaborations with Aimé Leon Dore, Jjjjound and WTAPS, but it’s a great pick for anyone who has a more ‘normcore’ style or likes to throw something unexpected into the mix. New Balance boasts incredible quality and is versatile enough to go with myriad looks.”

 

 

What Should I Get a Real Logo Lover?

For those who consider logomania not just a sartorial preference but a way of life, a logo should be front and center for their sneaker gift. Everyone has their monogram of choice, but if you’re looking for a brand with endless options to choose from, look no further than Gucci. “Gucci sneakers hold their resale value relatively well, making it an all-around excellent investment present,” notes Azarcon. 

Azarcon’s top pick, the Gucci Rhyton, is sure to satisfy, especially considering TRR shoppers’ demand. “The Rhyton is one sneaker that’s trended in 2020, with sales quadrupling year over year,” notes McWilliams. “Searches on the site have also risen 67% year over year.”

The sneaker debuted at Gucci’s Cruise 2018 show and has proven its staying power. “The Rhyton sneaker was Gucci’s chunky response to the Balenciaga Triple S and most are characterized by the oversized logo or graphic along the side of the sneaker,” says Azarcon. The original Rhyton featured a logo inspired by the house’s archival prints, though now versions with strawberries, staggered stripes and sports team logos have emerged. Do they already have a logo-emblazoned Rhyton in their rotation? Give the neon monochrome version so they can enjoy their favorite sneaker, but with an added pop.

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What Should I Get a Sneakerhead Who Has It All?

So you’ve taken on the challenge of giving shoes to someone who lives and breathes sneaker culture. While this is ambitious, it’s not impossible — especially with Azarcon’s help. “Vintage Nike Dunks are undoubtedly the sneakers of the year,” he says. “As the market reaches levels of oversaturation with weekly sneaker drops, people have naturally begun to look towards the past for rarer, more obscure colorways of this classic basketball sneaker. The great thing about Nike Dunks is that the midsole is made completely of rubber, which means that vintage pairs from the late ’90’s and early 2000s should still be intact and wearable. This sneaker was also designed by Jordan 1 designer Peter Moore, which explains the similarities between the two shoes. The Jordan 1’s popularity has definitely had a residual effect on the current appetite for Nike Dunks.”

Want to come through with a pair of out-of-this-world grails? Aim for a pair of fresh Air Diors. “Kim Jones’ love for the Jordan 1 is well known throughout the sneaker world and as a result, his Dior x Jordan Brand collaboration is the biggest thing in sneakers since Virgil Abloh’s 2017 Off-White x Nike project, The 10,” explains Azarcon. “With pairs reselling for upwards of $10,000 upon their initial release, these sneakers have further cemented the unification of streetwear and luxury, demonstrating streetwear’s influential power within the fashion industry. Kim Jones’ clever application of Dior’s house codes makes this perhaps the greatest Jordan sneaker of all time and would be a true treat for any sneaker enthusiast.”

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