When it comes to the modern-day sneaker landscape, what’s old is new again. Vintage revival is real and these classic sneakers are all the hype today.
While we are seeing tons of new sneakers entering the market daily, only a select few go down in the annals of history. Some of the best classic sneakers on this list have a unique reason for their success – some feature timeless aesthetics, others were catalysts of change. And then, there are a few that kickstarted a legit cultural revolution both on the streets and in our sartorial choices.
What started as a vast and beautiful compilation of trendy and comfortable footwear pieces is now defined as dignified works of art sported by people from all walks of life. From legendary kicks like the original Converse All-Star from 1917 to Onitsuka Tiger shoes that were created to push post-World War II youth towards sports and athleticism, sneaker culture has become an active part of our everyday lifestyle.
Before turning into something timeless, sneakers had to evolve into a pop-cultural enigma -much like exuberant couture pieces by iconic designers – to garner devoted consumers that swear by celeb-approved kicks every season. However, hype or no hype, this trend is here to stay whether it’s in the form of athletics or leisure.
To wrap up 2019, the year of collaborations, we’ve curated a customized list of five of our favorite classic sneakers that are worth investing in this season.
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The Samba silhouette was launched in the 1950s and has been Adidas’ yardstick in the sneaker evolution. The Samba was created for two purposes: First, it was turf shoe for indoor sports like rink football and badminton, and second, it was made for athletes who worked on icy surfaces during winter games. The Samba, the longest-running production shoe, has stayed true to its original purpose even today. When baggy jeans were replaced by tighter fits in the 70s, a new trainer culture was born and Sambas were a perfect fit. Celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Rihanna still sport this pair, furthering cementing their position as one of the best classic sneakers of all time.
Price: Rs 11,999 onwards
The white-washed Nike Air Force 1 was creator Bruce Kilgore’s magnum opus when it made its debut in 1982. Though it was originally dubbed just Air Force, the ‘1’ was added as a nod to the American presidential air carrier, which stirred up a huge legal dispute at the time. So how did it go from being an on-court powerhouse to one of the most timeless sneakers? The answer is simple: The notorious East Coast underground hip hop cult, which popularized it.
The chunky midsole and the all-you-can-customise design, allowed the AF 1 to sub-branch into hundreds of editions, cementing its name as a hip hop’s favourite sneaker. The Air Force 1 LV8 Utility is our favourite silhouette, and even today the Nike official website allows you to customise your AF 1 with tons of enhancements.
Price: Rs 8,999 onwards
In 1986, Puma took the sneaker-sphere by storm when it revealed the ‘World’s first computerised pair of sneakers’, the Puma RS-Computer Shoe. The brand set the pace for modern technology and fitness by placing a chip right at the heel of the shoe. It connected to old school Apple and IBM PCs, and combined with the ‘special software’ you’d boot up from a floppy disk, you could see your workout data in 8-bit graphics. Can you imagine the hype this created in the 80s? No wonder its slipped into the best classic sneakers list.
The pair was recently revived by the brand, and the eight-bit sneaker is now capable of tracking distance, steps, and calories while transferring all data to the wearer’s smartphone. The pair also adds in a three-axis accelerometer and LED indicators for charging indications for its USB plug-in. Limited to just 86 pairs, a nod to its original year of debut.
Price: Rs 45,00o (limited edition).
Starting 1941, Chuck Taylors became a household staple across America, and eventually, the rest of the world. A favourite with teenagers, the pair suited the basketball court just as well as it did the skating rink. Comfortable yet stylish, it quickly became a favourite of punk-rock music icons like Metallica and Green Day, influencing the youth even further.
A simple design, even today the brand stays true to the original silhouette, and we can safely say there isn’t a sneakerhead today who doesn’t own a pair. The best pairs we’ve seen are the Converse x Virgil Abloh Chuck 70, a new-age collaboration with Off-White, yet maintaining the original silhouette.
Price: Rs 11,999 (approx.) onwards.
Back when the Land of the Rising Sun was in mourning post World War II, Onitsuka Tiger was launched as a catalyst to raise the self-esteem of Japan’s youth by advocating a dedication to athletics. Nearly 70 years later, this sports brand is revered as an Olympic footwear staple as well as an ageless style icon. During the 60s, Onitsuka also branched out from sportswear to athleisure, while already having footwear lines for running, baseball, basketball and indoor turf-games.
The double cross logo gave it a street name of ‘Octopus shoe’, and was endorsed by Jackie Chan and featured in the movie ‘Kill Bill’. By the time they reached the 21st century, the iconic vintage style sneaker sub-branched into high-street fashion, with the Mexico 66 pair being at its forefront.
Price: Rs 7,999 onwards.
All images: Courtesy brands