2018 has seen sneaker obsession reach new heights. As worldwide demand for sneakers continues to rise, both performance sportswear brands and luxury fashion houses have released new shapes and styles to attract a passionate and fast growing market. From practical trail and running shoes to statement high fashion designs, sneakers and sneaker culture have dominated our top selling products lists and driven the fashion agenda this year.

With more than 3 million shoppers searching for a pair of sneakers online every month, we decided to investigate what lies beneath some of the world’s most wanted styles. This year’s hottest sneakers feature space age construction, a mix of fashion and athletic elements, intricate logos, textured sole shapes and stand out silhouettes. From the $100 Nike Vapormax to the $1000 Louis Vuitton Archlight, what lies beneath the complex construction and fabrication of these much lusted-after shoes?

To find out we collaborated with British artist and photographer Hugh Turvey to x-ray some of this summer’s most hyped sneaker styles. Toeing the line between photography and radiology, Turvey’s images use x-ray technology to create what he calls xograms, a fusion of visible light and x-ray imagery

Vetements Reebok x-ray sneaker
Vetements Reebok x-ray sneaker sole

Vetements Reebok Instapump Fury “Logo”

  • Construction: Canvas, mesh and leather
  • Details: A unique, water-pistol-inspired air bladder system and breathable mesh upper. All-over Vetements logos plus Emoji pump detail
  • Inspiration: Reebok’s 1989-designed ‘Pump’ sneakers
  • Release Date: November 2017
  • Approx Price: £705 / $925
  • As Seen On: Kylie Jenner, Ariana Grande, Liam Payne, Wale, Jaylerr
  • Hashtagged Posts On Instagram: > 55,896
  • Key Details: The signature eye-roll and kissing face emoji nod to the house of Vetements’ irreverent attitude
  • Approx Weight Per Shoe: 348g / 12.3oz
  • Sole Height: 35mm / 1.5 inches

Nike sneaker sole

Turvey’s work mixes science and art. To shoot the sneakers, he allowed x-ray light to pass through the various materials used to construct the shoe; the trick is in getting a balanced exposure that allows for lights and darks in one shot. With this series of images he used 17 x 14 inch film to give the results an extra special level of detail at a 1:1 scale, and instead of using visible light he uses x-ray exposure to create the ‘xograms’.

Nike sneaker x-ray

Nike Air VaporMax Flyknit

  • Construction: Flyknit fabric, flywire cables, VaporMax Air midsole, rubber outsole
  • Details: Features strategically placed air units at the bubble sole to relieve pressure points. Nike’s Air – which is really nitrogen – creates a cushion that gives runners a soft, bouncy footfall
  • Inspiration: The 30th anniversary of the Nike Air Max sneaker
  • Release Date: Feb 2017
  • Approx Price: £149 / $190
  • As Seen On: Drake, Travis Scott, Justin Bieber, Victor Cruz, Gucci Mane
  • Hashtagged Posts On Instagram: > 638,853
  • Key Details: The VaporMax sole mold is composed of over 39,000 components, making it more a complex construction than a high-powered car engine
  • Approx Weight Per Shoe: 242g / 8.5oz
  • Sole Height: 40mm / 1.5 inches

Fila Disruptor x-ray

Fila Disruptor II

  • Construction: Leather and synthetic sole
  • Details: An exaggerated razor-edge sole and embroidered logos
  • Inspiration: The original 1990s Disruptors
  • Release Date: 2016
  • Approx Price: £80 / $70
  • As Seen On: Kendall Jenner, Romee Strijd, Emily Ratajkowski, Dakota Fanning
  • Hashtagged Posts On Instagram: > 369,169
  • Key Details: An aggressively lugged rubber outsole with padded tongue and a removable insole for support + cushioning.
  • Approx Weight Per Shoe: 331g / 11.6oz
  • Sole Height: 50mm / 2 inches

Balenciaga Triple S x-ray sneaker

Balenciaga Triple S

  • Construction: Polyester, calfskin, lambskin and mesh
  • Details: Bicolor ropes laces, embossed Balenciaga logo, 10mm arch and triple stacked sole
  • Inspiration: The Triple S takes molds from three different sports; running, basketball and track and field, all stacked on top of one another
  • Release Date: September 2017
  • Approx Price: £615 / $795
  • As Seen On: Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, A$AP Ferg, James Harden, Offset, Rihanna, Elsa Hosk
  • Hashtagged Posts On Instagram: > 1,084,390
  • Key Details: The Triple S stands for triple sole; the heavily padded, tri-soled design layers moulds from running, basketball and track shoes in one instantly recognisable silhouette. The shoes are made to look as if they’ve already been fully broken in, with intentional distressing
  • Approx Weight Per Shoe: 715g / 25.2oz
  • Sole Height: 60mm / 2.5 inches

Gucci Flashtrek x-ray by Hugh Turvey

Gucci’s SEGA Flashtrek proved to be the most challenging sneaker to shoot, due to its high-density materials and gem detailing. But it was a challenge that reaped the most rewards in terms of the level of craftsmanship the x-rays revealed. “I wasn’t expecting to see the level of detail as seen in the Gucci sneakers… aside from the gems, you can see in the heel of the shoe small pins and a metal shank which are characteristic of traditional shoe construction and demonstrate another level of quality build that I just didn’t expect in a sneaker.” Turvey said.

Gucci Flashtrek x-ray from the side

Gucci SEGA Flashtrek

  • Construction: Leather, suede and technical canvas, Rubber (logo) and elastic ribbon with crystals
  • Details: Removable elastic ribbon with crystals and the rubber Gucci patch in SEGA font
  • Inspiration: Hiking shoes and 1980s arcade references
  • Release Date: July 2018
  • Approx Price: £780 / $1,090
  • As Seen On: Kylie Jenner, Mary Lawless Lee, Desiigner, Kai (EXO)
  • Hashtagged Posts On Instagram: > 21,401
  • Key Details: Mixes multicolor metallic leathers and crystals to create a kaleidoscope effect. Finished with a ‘Gucci Team’ heel loop
  • Approx Weight Per Shoe: 752g / 26.5oz
  • Sole Height: 70mm / 3 inches

Managing to turn even the most ordinary objects into works of art, Turvey’s x-ray images make us stop and think about the internal details that are often overlooked. “We experience life on the surface but visually delve a little further and a new world is revealed. These Xograms expose the hidden world of construction, design, materials, form, function and ultimately design that goes into every sneaker.”

LV Archlight x-ray
Archlight sole x-ray

LV Archlight

  • Construction: Plain calf leather and technical fabrics
  • Details: A high, curved rubber outsole to add extra height, with an LV Monogram heel tab
  • Inspiration: Vintage 90s basketball looks and futuristic fashion references
  • Release Date: Feb 2018
  • Approx Price: £780 / $1,090
  • As Seen On: Jaden Smith, Hailey Baldwin, Dua Lipa, Sandra Hagelstam, Nadine Lustre
  • Hashtagged Posts On Instagram: > 33,662
  • Key Details: The futuristic sneaker balances a springy wave-shaped outsole with an oversized tongue and a low-cut ankle, creating a high contrast feminine silhouette
  • Approx Weight Per Shoe: 396g / 13.9oz
  • Sole Height: 50mm / 2 inches

Yeezy Desert Rat x-ray

Yeezy Desert Rat 500

  • Construction: Suede, cow leather and mesh upper, 3M reflective piping and adiPRENE+ cushioned tooling
  • Details: Lightweight with responsive cushioning
  • Inspiration: Kobe Bryant’s 1999 Adidas KB8 3 signature sneakers
  • Release Date: March 2018
  • Approx Price: £170 / $200
  • As Seen On: Kim Kardashian, Scott Disick, Luka Sabbat, Kevin Hart, Nick Young
  • Hashtagged Posts On Instagram: > 432,453
  • Key Details: The Desert Rat’s futuristic sole is actually almost 20 years old, having first debuted on Kobe Bryant’s then-signature sneaker – the Adidas KB8 III in 1999. The “Feet You Wear” sole was originally designed to help hoopers prevent rolling an ankle
  • Approx Weight Per Shoe: 375g / 13.2 oz
  • Sole Height: 35mm / 1.5 inches