Since the dawn of modern-day sneaker collecting, brands have fueled seasonal hype with holiday-inspired kicks. From the 4th of July to Halloween, from 4/20 (yes, it’s a holiday) to Easter, there’s special releases to coincide with each and every major holiday over the course of a year. But come Christmas, things get kicked into overdrive. It’s one of the biggest holidays for sneaker collaborations each and every year, and nobody does Christmas sneakers better than Nike.
Nike’s Christmas sneakers have a lot working in their favor: there’s strongly defined cultural totems that they can draw inspiration from (you’ll see recurring themes in this list), they’re not bound to ugly, difficult-to-wear colors like some other seasonal releases (we’re looking at you and all your gag-inducing pastels, Easter), and sneakerheads are always looking for a fresh new pair around the holidays so they can stunt at Christmas dinner (don’t lie to yourself … we know you love doing it just as much as we do).
So on Christmas Day, as our gift to you, we’re sharing a few of our favorite Nike Christmas sneakers. From iconic basketball kicks to head-turning Dunks, there’s something for everyone here, so let’s jump right into the festivities!
Honorable Mention: Lebron 8 V/2 “Christmas”-2010
There’s a myriad of new Nike Basketball colorways that are spotted on Christmas every year, both of the P.E. and in-line variety; enough that they could have a list of their own. However, most are somewhat forgettable, erased from the memory of all but the most die-hard Nike Basketball fans by the time the next holiday season rolls around. Thankfully, that’s not the case with the Lebron 8 V/2’s. Released at the apex of Nike Basketball’s popularity, it offers a more toned-down, clean look than many other Christmas Day hoop kicks, and the design and colorway still stand out today, even though the Nike Basketball hype is unfortunately nowhere to be found.
5. Air Tech Challenge III “Ugly Sweater”-2015
Drawing its inspiration from an ugly holiday sweater and releasing alongside a Bruin that featured the same colorway, the Tech Challenge III featured an intricate woven upper with a buttery suede overlay, plus a gold swoosh and candy cane-striped laces for a little extra pop. These are loud, garish, and not for everyone … but if you’ve got the panache to pull off an ugly holiday sweater, you can certainly rock these as well.
4. SB Dunk Low “Candy Cane”-2015
If you like stripes, then you’re bound to love the “Candy Cane” SB Dunk Lows, released in 2015. Inspired by the classic holiday treat, these whimsical kicks flew slightly under the radar upon release and although they don’t have the same hype as some of the pairs you’ll see a little farther down on the list they’ve established themselves as one of Nike SB’s most solid, clean holiday releases.
3. Air Max 90 W’s “Gift Wrapped”-2015
Continuing with the candy cane theme and releasing alongside a similarly-styled Blazer High, the women’s Air Max 90 “Gift Wrapped” featured an all-over candy cane print on the upper, with small details like a sparkly red metallic swoosh and ribbon laces (hence the nickname) lending to a loud, colorful look that’s was perfect for the holidays. We’ve always said that the ladies steadily get blessed with the best Air Max colorways, and this shoe is even more proof of our theory.
3. SB Dunk High “Krampus”-2012
Shit ain’t always sweet at Christmas, and longtime Nike collaborator Sean Cliver’s “Krampus” dunks made that abundantly clear. Not familiar with the creature the shoe’s inspired by? As a yin to Santa’s yang, Krampus is a horned, devilish beast from Bavarian folklore who deals with children that have been bad instead of good. The shoes feature much more black and much less Christmas branding than most pairs on this list (the insoles are the only thing that indicate to you what the shoe is all about), and the red horsehair on the upper heel aids the devilish air that this not-so-nice sneaker gives off.
2. Kobe 6 “Grinch”-2010
Undoubtedly the best Kobe, and arguably the best Nike Basketball shoe of all time (yeah, we said it), the Kobe 6 “Grinch” made tsunami-sized waves when Kobe Bryant debuted it on Christmas Day 2010 during a matchup with the retooled Miami Heat. The bright volt colorway was a team-wide affair as other Lakers were given PE’s … but Kobe’s neck-breaking kicks stood out over the rest. 8 years later, the “Grinches” are still an incredibly desirable sneaker. Even the untrained eye can look at these beautiful kicks and tell where the inspiration comes from … and that’s what good sneaker design is supposed to do: speak to everyone, no matter their knowledge level.
1. Concepts Nike SB Dunk High “Ugly Christmas Sweater-2013
The top spot on our list can’t go to just one pair of Christmas sneakers … we’ve got to split it between two. Making a dope Christmas-themed shoe is one thing, but building a great presentation and story around it is something else altogether, and Concepts teamed up with Nike SB in 2013 for a holiday-themed pack of Dunk Highs that did just that. Featuring a crazy all-over Christmas print, complete with a sour-looking, beanie-wearing snowman as the centerpiece, the unique Dunk High was available in both grey and black. The grey pair was a general release, coming in a plain box, while the black pair, a Concepts exclusive featured a holiday-themed tin, gold marajuanna-leaf lace locks, a snowman beer coozie, and even a special Concepts Christmas tree ornament. These aren’t just another pair of Christmas sneakers. They’re a whole holiday experience, and that’s why they take the top spot on our list.
What’s your favorite pair of Nike Christmas sneakers? Do you agree with our list, or would you reshuffle a few pairs? What kicks are you rocking to Christmas dinner tonight? Sound off in the comments, or hit us up and let us know on Twitter!