With Teacher Appreciation week upon us, we felt it was only right to grade our favorite sneaker brands on their work completed in 2017 so far. All brands have been bringing the heat this year and the friendly competition is getting real in our sneaker streets.

Adidas has claimed their territory this year with an abundance of releases from the Ultra Boost to the NMDs to the EQTs. While Adidas is a fan favorite and continues to deliver classic consistency AND some pretty powerful moves on the environmental front, we can’t help but be a bit disappointed that with the popularity of the Ultra Boost and NMD, we’ve yet to see a new wave of innovation. Aside from the buzzworthy release of the Futurecraft (and now, the news of the Futurecraft 4D), we haven't seen much change in what caught our attention 1, 2, and 3 years ago. Revamped classics are cool, and you know we love sneakers that provide versatility, but Three Stripes is due for a major WOW factor. We’re just not sure where it’ll come from. Add additional demerits for their tone deaf email relating to the Boston Marathon and, there you have it. Lucky for us, we can expect tons of new drops and collabs this summer and going into fall so, we’re sure the Adi team has quite a few surprises in store.

Nike has had their thinking cap on all semester. From the innovative design of the Vapormax to the clever marketing for the sneaker enthusiast holiday known as Air Max Day, we are here for it all. The return of senior class favorites such as the Air Max 97 “Silver Bullet”, the Zoom Spiridon, the Air Max TN, and a 30th anniversary tribute to the OG Air Max 1, all had us screaming (and hashtagging) - Kiss My Airs. No conduct mark. But, while silhouettes and releases are definitely the toppings, the real goods for Nike come in their attention to us as their customer. As women who champion sneaker culture, Nike seems to be stepping to the forefront in their efforts to bring us into the fold. From the EQUALITY initiative to the roll out of the first sports hajib for muslim women and their epic ‘Force Is Female’ campaign, Nike isn't missing the mark on our needs. For that, they get a major gold star.

If we were in school, Puma would definitely be our cool artsy friend who hips us to new things and ways of thinking. The Boston-based brand has leveraged their ties to certain influencers in some pretty amazing ways all while providing a different outlook on sneakher style (see what we did there?). Art-filled collabs with the likes of Euro designer Careaux and yet another showing with Rihanna and her FENTY x Puma collection at Paris Fashion Week, the Forever Faster brand is continuing to up the appeal of sneaker culture and give us some pretty fashion forward items in the process. Keep pushing, Puma.

Where has New Balance been? After that whole Trump controversy earlier this year, the brand has been a bit quiet, or maybe we just haven’t been paying as much attention. That’s kind of the point, though. Isn’t it? The NB team got back on track with yet another active wear collection with J.Crew, but have been secondary on the shoe front as of late. A revamped premium 576 and a summer-friendly take on the 247 could help them round out June on a high note and, hopefully, get that grade up.

We love Reebok. We really, really do. Their continued collaboration with FACE Stockholm is one we’re always here for and don’t even get us started on the numerous offerings with L.A. darling Melody Ehsani. Basically, Reebok is our go-to when we need something classic and relatively inexpensive to add to the roster. That’s the thing though, new innovation isn’t flowing out of Boston quite as much as we’d like it to. Classics are awesome, but recycling the same silhouettes in different colorways can get a little (or a lot) been-there-done-that real quick. Silhouettes aside, Reebok gets major participation points for advancing their ladies initiatives. Officially adding Teyana Taylor to the Classics roster, piling on more female voices with the likes of Gigi Hadid, Ronda Rousey and more in their #PerfectNever campaign, and specifically hiring women in key power positions within their company make Reebok one to watch for the second half of 2017.

The New Kid.

There’s always a new kid that hits the ground running and excels in ways that surprise us all. That new kid, for us, is Filling Pieces. The Amsterdam shoe brand is making its name (and many waves) with minimalists everywhere by combining a range of uncomplicated silhouettes with equally simple colorways. Ladies get some extra love from Filling Pieces who, to our delight, always incorporate ladies sizing into many of their men’s silhouettes. Given the tie between Puma (brand ambassador Careaux is also a Filling Pieces footwear designer) it’s pretty much a given that we’ll see yet another collab between the two brands in the near future. Until then, paying close attention to their Inner Circle and Let Us Create collections would be a wise move. Pricing isn’t cheap for these babies, though. Hopefully in the next half of the year we’ll see a $100 option for those of us eager to try out the Pieces without paying a pretty penny.

What are your thoughts on our grades? Who did we leave out? Do you have a different take? Let us know by visiting us on IG or hitting us up on Twitter!

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