The History Of Famous Sneakers

words Alexa Wang

Sneakers, invented in the 1800s, were the first rubber-soled shoes. They were created as a solution for athletes who needed footwear that’s flexible and durable. Now, sneakers are closely entwined with the sports’ niche. As a matter of fact, the iconic status of sneakers was cemented by an iconic moment or figure in the world of sports. 

However, that history has now been overshadowed by hype. With the wave of streetwear sweeping the globe, renowned brands such as Prada and Dior have now started reinterpreting classic sneaker styles by throwing their logo or monogram on some favorite sneaker designs.

Game changing designs from Nike including Nike Air Max or Adidas are reissued constantly. However, they are often championed by celebrities and influencers who are younger than the shoes. One thing hasn’t changed with sneakers. That’s the fact that they have a power to captivate and inspire the masses. Here’s summary of the famous designs of sneakers and why you should definitely have it in your collection if you are a self-respecting sneakerhead.

Famous Sneakers

1.         Nike Air Force 1

Out of any 25 Nike shoes sold, you can bet that a huge number are the Nike Air Force 1. It’s the most famous basketball sneaker introduced in 1982. It’s a high-top sneaker with the silhouette of the Nike Approach hiking boot. The most revolutionary feature of this sneaker is the sole. It is the first basketball sneaker to come with the Nike’s Air Cushioning.

Bruce Kilgore is the genius behind the design of Nike Airforce 1. The pair became a favorite among various top basketball stars such as Jamal Wilkes and Moses Malone. The 1983 low cut-version of the Nike Airforce 1 slowly become a fan favorite away from the basketball court and in the street.

Later on, it was in the airwaves as highlighted in hit songs by renowned rappers like Nelly and Jay-Z. Today, the Airforce 1 is available in different colors and silhouettes. However, the classic all-white low-cut pair is always the go-to choice for most sneakerheads.

respected Sneakers

2.         Adidas Stan Smiths

While the basketball courts were rocked with the Nike AF1, the tennis world was swayed by the Adidas Stan Smiths. The shoes were renamed after the former no.1 world American tennis player who won the 1971 US Open. In the same year, Adidas reinvented their all-white leather tennis shoes to capture Smith on the tongue. The minimalistic design became very popular and in 1988, they sold 22 million pairs.

Currently, the Adidas Stan Smiths are still appealing especially in a white and green color combo. Thanks to Phoebe Philo, the cult trainers have become an epitome of cool shoes in the sneaker-world. People are obsessed with the shoes and led to the creation of various versions by Yohji Yamamoto, Raf Simons and Supreme.

3.         Air Jordan 1

After the Nike Air Force 1 intrigued basketball players and sneakerheads all over the world, the Air Jordan 1 was also received with the same enthusiasm. It was introduced in 1984 when Michael Jordan, who was a rookie Chicago Bulls player, wore the shoes.

Later on, Jordan became a basketball legend especially renowned for his inspiring slam dunks. He was often spotted wearing the black and red Air Jordan 1s, thereby breaking the white shoes stated in the NBA dress code. The company, Nike, paid off the $5,000 so that Michael Jordan could continue wearing the Air Jordan 1.

With the rebellious yet winning streak from Jordan, the Air Jordan 1 became iconic sneakers. Even years after Jordan retired from the sport, the shoes are still relevant and celebrities such as Billie Eilish still wear them quite often.

4.         Puma Suede

Tommie Smith was the first African-American man to complete 200 meters in less than 20 seconds. He received his medal in 1968 Olympics with a raised salute. It is often referred to as the Black Power salute which symbolizes the protest against racial inequality in America. Another remarkable gesture from the man was when he removed the Puma Suede sneakers when protesting against poverty.

In that exact moment, Puma’s basketball shoes were immortalized in the history of sneakers and also in the African American culture. In 1973, the shoes were later on endorsed by Walter ‘Clyde’ Frazier, another renowned NBA legend. The era coincided with the introduction of breakdancing in New York streets.

The shoes had thick rubber soles, unique material and flexible uppers. It was easy enough to become a hit amongst B-boys. Recently, Rihanna redesigned the Puma Suede sneakers into popular sneakers. However, they are still a fan favorite in their original silhouette.

5.         Converse Chuck Taylor All Star

In 1917, Converse created their All Star Sneakers. In 1932, the brand added Chuck Taylor’s name, a renowned basketball player, to the brand. The name stuck to the brand and now these famous sneakers are often referred to as ‘Chucks.’

They are a staple sneaker among many teenagers. As such, you are likely going to spot them in the basketball courts and skating rinks. They were also in various music hits such as Green Day, Metallica and Wiz Khalifa videos.

Chucks have stuck to their original silhouette with famous sneakerheads like Kaia Gerber having them in every color. However, they are still connected to the youth culture with various interpretations by Virgil Abloh.


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