Sneakerhead or not, these days, the world is spoilt for choice when it comes to quality sneakers.
You can also see a lot of people sporting sneakers as part of their streetwear getup. A tribute to the fitness-conscious society that we have now. However, before any of these became even remotely popular, there are sneakers that managed to separate themselves from the mass of unimposing shoes. The few that forever changed the face of sneakerland.
See the list below for some of the most iconic shoes of all time. Classic sneakers that still pack so much punch that they can hold their own against the newer sneaker models.
1. Nike Air Huarache Run Ultra
The sneaker of the gods.
Irreverence aside, Nike has pulled on all stops when designing the Nike Air Huarache Run Ultra. Literally “sandals” in Spanish, Nike first introduced the Huarache in 1992 to the warm reception of the sneakerhead community.
The new Huarache quickly ascended the sneaker ladder and displaced the wildly popular shoes of that time, the Michael Jordans and Air Max sneakers. They were from the gods, after all. The launch of the Nike Huarache in 1992 became the shoe event of the year.
While the hype has somewhat ebbed after a quarter of a century, the Nuke Huarache is still incredibly popular. Nike also released new color schemes that included subdued combinations such as black and white and an all-black model, a departure from the flashier colors that the earlier versions of Huarache sported.
The trademark Huarache saddle is still present and utilizes the newest Flywire cord. Developed by Nike, Flywire is made up of strategically placed filaments that mimic the function of cables on a suspension bridge. The upper is covered by synthetic leather that acts as exoskeleton for the neoprene base.
The original Huarache maxim, “Have you hugged your feet today?”, is still very much relevant today. The sneakers are a joy to wear, comfortable and secure. Considering their bulk, the sneakers are unbelievably light and your feet will fit snuggly.
The cushioning is firm and there is no bouncy feel when you wear them. The new Huarache uses Phylon for the midsole, a type of midsole that is both responsive and soft.
2. Adidas Stan Smith
The return of the king.
When it was first released by Adidas, the Stan Smith models were quickly branded as a pair of no-frills sneakers. Beautifully-design, yes, but not really in the same league as its competitors which were brimming with features that the Stan Smith didn’t have. However, the sneakers’ simplistic nature became its selling point.
During the 80s and the 90s, almost everyone can be seen wearing them. The dawn of the new millennium even saw the fashion community coopting the Stan Smith, stylish sneakers that everyone wants.
With the Stan Smith, less is more. The shoes’ simple design and minimal branding only serve to highlight the charm of these sneakers. The Adidas logo can only be found on the heel tab, the signed portrait is still on the tongue, and you can also find a Stan Smith text down the side in gold.
The crisp white coating of the Adidas Stan Smith is simply immaculate and the black accents only add an air of class. The top layer is a bit on the thin side while the fully lined canvas has an additional leather on the back third.
While Adidas hasn’t fitted the Stan Smith with its trademark Boost feature, the sneakers are still comfortable to wear. The insole is soft and has the texture of a tennis ball’s coating and the full-length EVA midsole makes the cushioning lightweight.
3. New Balance 247SC
Charming with all cylinders firing is probably the most accurate description of the pastel versions of the New Balance 247SC. Pretty to a fault yet possessing an aura of subdued confidence, these sneakers from New Balance are as graceful as sports shoes get.
The gently sloping upper, the beautiful arch at the back, and the crème dela crème of this model, the REVLite sole, all add to the playful persona of the New Balance 247SC.
Color scheme aside, first thing you’ll notice upon seeing the shoes for the first time are the New Balance logos on both sides and just below the eyelets. They contrast nicely with the shoes’ dominant pastel hues.
The upper is made from premium leather while the outsole is made from high-grade performance rubber. The REVLite sole is 30% lighter compared to the foams that New Balance uses on its other models.
Decidedly low-cut, the New Balance 247SC appears to be a perfect fit for every imaginable outdoor outfit. There is plenty of ventilation inside and your feet will fit in snuggly. The cushioning is just right and the wonderful sole is protective enough without being overbearing and overly obtrusive.
You might be deceived into thinking that the New Balance 247SC was designed with form trumping over function in mind. It’s not hard to see why.
These shoes are very well-designed. That might be the case for other lifestyle sneakers but not for the New Balance 247SC. Both form and function are dominant. It’s just that form is so much more noticeable than function.
4. Reebok Classic
As timeless as it gets.
The quintessential summer shoes, the all-white Reebok Classic was first introduced in 1983. Since then, it was constantly rated as one of the most popular white sneakers of all time. It’s not hard to see why since the Reebok Classic just clicks with everything summer: sun, beaches, and sand.
Except for the logo at the back and the Union Jack flag below the eyelets, the Reebok Classic is all white. Appearing as playful and charming at the same time, the clean chic look is further magnified by the subtle stitching.
Reebok opted to use a mix of mesh, suede, and synthetic leather with the Classic. The materials used are topnotch and of high quality considering the price point. The vintage look is further amplified by the exposed padding on the top of the tongue.
Fitting true to size, the Reebok Classic is very comfortable. The vintage styling is robust with a pointy toebox shape right out of the box, and a Die-cut EVA midsole that provides excellent cushioning is also present.
The gum sole of the Reebok Classic blend nicely with the white shoes. It gives off an earthy vibe that complements the suede. The grip is excellent and the shoes appear to be very durable.
5. Vans Old Skool
An old soul with a young heart.
Other than the Nike swoosh, the Vans stripe is probably the most recognizable sneaker trademark. Called the “jazz stripe” by Vans founder Paul Van Doren, the iconic trademark was first used in 1977 when it was stitched on the manufacturer’s first ever lather skate shoes, Style 36 or more commonly known as Old Skool. Since then, the world has fallen in love with the simplistic skate shoes.
Subdued but elegant, the Old Skool’s design is very much consistent with other Vans shoes. The durable upper is made from canvas, there are padded collars, and reinforced toecaps. The no-frills design is perfect for all sorts of streetwear, from flashy to reserved.
Depending on the model, the leather side stripe can be either inconspicuous or easily recognizable. Ventilation is good, however, like all Vans shoes, it takes time to properly break-in the Old Skool.
Like all Vans shoes, the Old Skool has the signature rubber waffle outsole. Much-needed grip is provided by the crisscrossed sole. The high-quality rubber is also very durable, making sure that the Old Skool wouldn’t be easily susceptible to wear and tear.
Welcome to Sneakers Wonderland
No matter which one of the five you choose, all of them are well-designed and capable sneakers. Indeed, these days, sneakerland is filled to the brim with quality shoes from a lot of manufacturers, new and old alike.
The attention that most people put on fitness these days is assurance that there will always be a demand for shoes that not only look good but also have cutting edge features. The perfect shoes are those that both have form and function. However, iconic shoes are still an entirely new league that only a select few manage to qualify.
Classics are classic, after all.