Ranking the Best Valentine’s Day Sneakers

From romantic renditions to grim gems.

Footwear 
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Love is in the air this February as the season of romance (or lonesomeness, for those not struck by Cupid’s arrow) is here once again. Climaxing with the annual celebration of Valentine’s Day, brands have found many ways to encourage the world to partake in its festivities, including seasonally-themed footwear. Looking back, a fun assortment of releases from Nike and Jordan Brand, Reebok, Dr. Martens, Vans, adidas and more have brought the love to sneakerheads. To commemorate decades of lovely looks, we’ve prepared a review of Valentine’s Day’s finest romance-flavored releases.

Honorable Mention – adidas UltraBOOST 5.0 DNA “Valentine’s Day” (2022)

adidas’ latest heart-covered series of UltraBOOSTs has been a fun opportunity to share the love. The Three Stripes knit hearts into the UltraBOOST’s sock-like Primeknit upper, making for a unisex presentation of the shoe that combines an all-black look with red. By keeping the full-length BOOST midsole and Continental rubber outsole black, the emphasis is placed directly on the pattern.

Honorable Mention – Vans Sk8-Hi Slim “Love Me, Love Me Not” (2014)

In a demonstration of unique creativity, Vans’ “Love Me, Love Me Not” pack taps into the uncertainty of human desire. Best depicted by the Sk8-Hi Slim iteration, ox-eye daisies cover the upper’s canvas base with petals falling off, nodding to the game one plays when trying to determine if their affection is to be reciprocated. Adding to the look, the midsole features “he loves me, he loves me not” text that summarizes the concept in a much more obvious fashion. Elsewhere, white contrast stitching stretches down the black Jazz Stripe, lacing system and heel. While the use of pronouns limits its suitable audience, this pair offers a novel approach to the theme.

10. Emotionally Unavailable x Nike Air Force 1 High (2019)

Our first of several Nike collaborations to make the list, Emotionally Unavailable’s take on the Air Force 1 High offers jaded lovers a twist on a classic sneaker. Packed with details and a fitting red, pink and white color scheme, the pair features a zip-up shroud alongside the Air Force 1 High’s signature strap, which itself boasts a co-branded “E.U. AIR” design that’s also found at the tongue. Pink chenille Swooshes rest atop a white leather outline while a bright red canvas upper packs a powerful punch. The EU AF1’s details are overshadowed by the loud color composition but it’s a fun twist on the celebration nonetheless.

9. Girls Don’t Cry x Nike SB Dunk Low (2019)

Another collaborative project to hit shelves for Valentine’s Day 2019, the Girls Don’t Cry (GDC) x Nike SB Dunk Low prominently features the Japanese label’s bold red hue. Finding beauty in simplicity, its red on red leather paneling and Swooshes offer a look that is detailed by white embroidery that includes the GDC logo at the lateral and Nike script on the heel tab. GDC’s butterfly design also lands on the tongue above “Nike SB” text while heart perforations at the medial’s midfoot and a heart-shaped co-branded hang tag complete the release.

8. Nike Air Force 2 High “Valentine’s Day” (2009)

One of the list’s oldest pairs, the often-overlooked Air Force 2 dazzled back in ‘09 as the first of two menacing makeovers from Nike’s Valentine’s range. Balancing red, white and gold, a skull and crossbones design was flipped with a skull above intersecting arrows piercing a heart. This is repeated throughout the upper’s red overlays and tongue branding, appearing in a muted white. Hearts and Xs also join the pattern while gold accents and a white base offer contrast. As indicated by its minimal presence in recent years, the silhouette may not receive as much love as its iconic predecessor but this clever rendition earned a nod.

7. Reebok Instapump Fury “Celebrate” (2016)

Before Demna Gvasalia revealed his scribbled-on Vetements x Reebok Instapump Furys at Vetements’ SS17 runway show, Reebok presented its own messy spin on the runner earlier in 2016. The only all-white sneaker to make the list, it spotlights sloppy lipstick and “xoxo” graphics alongside various other stain replicas. Simple in its execution, Reebok managed to offer an unorthodox take without going overboard.

6. Dr. Martens 1461 “Wild Hearts” (2020)

Dr. Martens’ 1461 isn’t technically a “sneaker,” but it deserves some love for its “Wild Hearts” edition that’s outfitted in an all-over heart print. The full-grain leather upper carries this hand-drawn pattern in various shades: darker black hearts are spread throughout while splotches of white are occasionally sprinkled atop. The resulting look is a combination of the standard black 1461 with a charming print that feels particularly on-brand for a Doc.

5. Reebok Dual Pump Runner “Valentine’s Day” (2009)

In 2009, Reebok pulled off another unique Valentine’s approach with a Dual Pump Runner featuring blood splatters. The story behind the shoe remains uncertain but Reebok possibly intended to leverage its Pump technology to nod to the heart’s role in pumping blood throughout the body, taking things much more literally than other entries. Its medial is covered in a red patent leather that recreates the appearance of blood, stretching outwards over the gray leather base.

4. StrangeLove x Nike SB Dunk Low (2020)

Since its reveal, the StrangeLove x Nike SB Dunk Low has been highly sought-after and is currently our list’s most expensive entry. A shoo-in for any Valentine’s Day sneaker list, the Sean Cliver-designed pair is undeniably electric with its combination of premium velvet and suede in pink, red and white tones with a special logo at the heel. Tapping into Cliver’s lifelong love affair with skateboarding, it was a contender for the top spot on this list but it lacks a command over the theme that the remaining pairs masterfully carry.

3. Nike P-Rod 2 “Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre” (2009)

What better way to celebrate love than by remembering the horrors of a slaughter? None, apparently, if you asked Paul Rodriguez and Nike SB back in 2009. A concept we’re unlikely to ever see again – especially from a brand as protective of their image as Nike – this ghastly pair is one for the archives. A crimson red combined with black and gray as various nods to the gang activity that took place on Valentine’s Day in 1929 – allegedly involving Al Capone – are featured on this pair, including blood spatters at its vamp. Between its highly-detailed design and malevolent theme, this colorway has aged excellently and offers a ferocity that’s unmatched on this list.

2. Jordan Why Not Zer0.2 “Bear Jordan” (2019)

Russell Westbrook’s “Bear Jordan” PE deserves a nod for its name alone. Its decoration is a playful homage to teddy bears, a popular Valentine’s Day gift. A shaggy exterior appears in a suitable brown while red patent leather at the midfoot nods to its secondary theme of the chocolates teddy bears are often accompanied by. A fitting Valentine’s Day combination, the teddy bear concept (which Jordan Brand emphasized with a jumbo stuffed bear for Westbrook) is joined by a chocolate assortment at the sockliner and a custom heart-shaped shoe box. Had it ever hit shelves, it would’ve been the perfect seasonal gift for a sneakerhead.

1. Air Jordan 8 “Valentine’s Day” (2018)

The #1 spot on our list goes to this all-red pair of Air Jordan 8s that were released for Valentine’s Day 2018. A striking red suede upper kicks things off with matching hardware and tonal branding. Dashes of pink, black and a darker red offer just the right amount of flavor towards the heel while its tongue presents a heart-shaped stamp for the Jumpman logo to rest on gently. It further encapsulates the theme with a rose-filled graphic at the sockliner and cleverly placed “Loves Me… Loves Me Not…” text hidden underneath the shoe’s trademark straps. To top it all off, a special shoebox with a card from Jordan Brand and rose-covered wrapping paper cements this pair as the holiday’s perfect sneaker.

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