Sneakers have transcended their simple, gym locker beginnings and have entered the world of high fashion, art, and celebrity all while defining generations. It’s what the New York Times recently dubbed a “fashion baptism.” With the versatility of sneakers, we’re getting a host of odd-ball collaborations – Louis Vuitton and Kanye West unexpectedly teamed up to adorn glamorous feet in hightops, J. Crew sells Chucks and Vans to chino-clad business-types. Yet unlike many trends which first started in the streets, the height of sneaker fashion still remains with the youth of America’s urban neighborhoods.
Many of the following sneakers didn’t become popular immediately. The companies remained small until some tipping point moment of popularity — a star dons them, a movie appearance. The general essence of each shoe has spawned copycats and reissues of various color combos and fabrics which have modernized the products, but the reasons we love these shoes seems to remain. These 14 iconic sneakers once defined a fashion moment, and as we see often, these styles remain classic and cool today.
1916 Keds Champion Originals
Keds couldn’t have picked a better spokeswoman than Taylor Swift. The singer epitomizes the simple girl-next-door feel of this shoe.
1917 Converse ‘Chuck Taylor’ All-Stars
Kurt Cobain brought grunge popularity to wearing Chucks but after decades of lagging sales, it took Nike to bring the brand back.
1967 Keds Knockarounds
As seen on every Hipster from Brooklyn to Portland to Berlin. Sadly, now often worn without socks.
1969 Adidas Superstars (Shelltoes)
What else could go with Run DMC‘s Adidas track suits but the Shelltoes? Today, Jay-Z and Mark Wahlberg are still devoted wearers.
1971 Adidas Stan Smith
Five years ago, for fear of the brand going out of style or chaging, a friend of mine bought ten pairs of Stan Smith’s in classic green. That’s devotion.
1971 Adidas Americana
There wouldn’t be platform sneakers without the Americana.
1972 Nike Cortez
Forrest Gump and Kendrick Lamar are fans of the classic running shoe.
1975 Vans #95 (Era)
The #95 or currently known as the Era, fit skateboarders needs like no other shoe. They’ve gone through unexpected popularity, bankruptcy, and a more recent surge with some very devoted fans. Johnny Knoxville, Kristen Stewart, and Pharrell have even walked the red carpet in them.
1978 Onitsuka Tiger (ASICS) California
Seemingly made in every color combination possible.
1982 Reebok Freestyle
I had the white ones, my girl Nora still rocks the black, and Alicia Keys has multicolored ones. The Freestyle was even featured in Vogue Spain recently.
1984 New Balance 1300
Be honest, you still own a pair.
1985 Air Jordan I
Rappers still rap about the status of a pair of Jordans and the respect you get. Jordan may have retired, but his legacy lives on through his high-priced endorsement.
1987 Nike Air Max
I still own my black pair with a pink swoosh from 2008 and they still haven’t gone out of style. Rita Ora, who usually bends fashion rules, must agree because she still wears hers too.
1991 Reebok Pump
Pump it up! Dumbest and best gimmick ever.
2015 Nike Air Mag 2015
Marty McFly may have worn these in 1989 but they won’t be available until next year. I personally think they’re ugly, but with the right swagger I’m sure I’ll be proved wrong.