There is plenty to parse about how men shopped and what they bought this year, but there is one constant that runs through year-end data: Men's shopping habits still revolve around sneakers. Guys are spending more money than ever on what they wear...thanks to sneakers. A handful of the top brands are climbing the rankings, and they owe it all to—you guessed it—sneakers. Sneakers are the reigning king of menswear. Or they’re more Thanos, if instead of a gauntlet he ruled the cosmos with a pair of bejeweled Off-White x Nike Air Infinity Stones.
The findings come from Lyst, a platform that aggregates listings from multiple retailers and tracks searches as well as sales from five million monthly users. The platform compiled the year’s worth of data and is providing GQ exclusively with its discoveries.
The most explosive piece of data Lyst found is that the average amount men spent on an item hit a massive growth spurt. The average amount of cash dropped on a single piece this year is $259.07. (It’s important to note here that Lyst aggregates mostly high-end retailers, so this doesn’t include your dad who buys his jeans at Costco.) When the data zeroes in on just sneakers, the average spend nearly doubled in the past 12 months: Men spent $253.18, up from only $120 last year. Lyst attributes the inflation to our beloved chunky designer sneakers with similarly beefy price tags.
And the shoe that stomped all over the competition this year was the pinnacle of the dad-or-chunky-or-whatever-you-call-it sneaker trend: the Balenciaga Triple S. No item is more emblematic of how our sneakers have started to resemble pre-K drawings of shoes than Balenciaga designer Demna Gvasalia’s swollen creations—it was expensive as hell ($950) and hard to obtain, a status symbol and a streetwear objet d’obsession. It makes sense that in the Year of Our Hypelord Sneaks, the Triple S would take the crown.
Gvasalia wasn’t content with just a single spot on the top-10 list of sneakers (as determined by sales and how frequently each shoe was searched). The Balenciaga Speed came in at fifth. Nike made the list twice, with the Vapormax and Air Max 97, and Adidas and its subsidiaries claimed three spots with the Yeezy 350, the NMD, and the Reebok Club C.
While sneakers, and the players involved in making the most coveted ones, absorbed large chunks of our attention this year, the top overall brand (according to searches) wasn’t Off-White, Nike, or Balenciaga. For the second year in a row, Gucci came out on top of the hottest brands. Fatigue has not set in for Alessandro Michele’s over-the-top designs. The clothes are still reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons, the press is still all in, and Gucci superfan Jared Leto continues to wander the earth looking like a flexed-out, tiger-embroidered Jesus. But Gucci stays supreme because it keeps finding ways to stoke the fire. This year, a much-talked-about collaboration with legendary Harlem tailor Dapper Dan was one of the rare moments when a fashion brand smashed together its heritage and streetwear without looking desperate.
Speaking of streetwear collaborations, Ralph Lauren made the year-end most-wanted list on the strength of its collaboration with London-based skatewear brand Palace—a collection that only dropped a month ago. Searches for Ralph Lauren are up 41 percent since it released the heel-flipping Polo bear sweater, among other skate-infected items. Ralph’s been in the game all year, though: We saw the streetwear-powered Snow Beach and Hi Tech collections drop earlier in 2018, so no surprise that he hit paydirt with the Palace x Ralph Lauren collection—the most popular collaboration of the year, according to Lyst.
But the rankings shift that might best sum up 2018 is Nike’s jump from unranked last year to second overall. It’s always been ubiquitous, but 2018 was the year the Swoosh became capital-F Fashion. You can’t talk about Virgil Abloh and Off-White without mentioning his volcanic “Ten” collection (second-hottest collab of the year), which continued to drop throughout 2018 after an initial 2017 launch. Even ahead of its official launch at the end of the week, Fear of God x Nike is already one of the most searched-for collaborations on Lyst. This isn’t news to anyone who’s been paying attention, but the fact that Nike’s fingerprints are all over Lyst’s rankings only proves what we already knew: Guys just wanna wear hyped-up sneakers and upscale streetwear.