From brands that are still going strong to sneakers that made a huge impact before being abandoned, the history of this casual athletic shoe is filled with amazing designs that cemented it’s influence on fashion and even music.
See the most iconic sneakers of all time, from the classics that are still trendy to newer designs that are revolutionizing the legacy of the sneaker through innovations both in fashion and functionality.
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star (1917)
Almost a century old, the Converse All Stars were created after basketball player and shoe salesman Charles Hollis “Chuck” Taylor introduced the iconic patch at the ankle.
Probably the most versatile sneaker of all time, the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star appeals to everyone and has penetrated countless cultures with its simple appeal.
Adidas Samba (1950)
Having sold over 35 million pairs worldwide, the Adidas Samba is definitely one of the most iconic sneakers of all time and its timeless design has allowed it to reach across a wide variety of styles. Conceived as an indoor soccer training shoe, the Adidas Samba has been through many incarnations, but the traditional design is still sold as the Classic M.
Adidas Stan Smith (1965)
The only Adidas to ever outsell the Samba, the Stan Smith was named after the American tennis player whose face ended up sketched on the tongue of the shoe. Lacking the three Adidas stripes, who were replaced by perforations, this tennis shoe became a sneaker classic thanks to its simple and timeless design. With countless limited editions, this is definitely one of the sneakers that deserves its iconic status.
Vans Era Checkerboard (1975)
Unlike the classics, the Vans Era was created with the help of skaters, who practiced on the streets, not on the court. The black and white checkerboard Vans Era is one of the most iconic sneakers of all time. While it appealed to skaters thanks to its non-slip bottom, the sneaker also attracted indie and punk musicians, who helped turn it into a style symbol.
Nike Air Force 1 (1982)
Created for basketball players, Nike’s Air Force 1 is probably the first super sneaker that helped make sneaker culture a mainstream phenomenon. Still going strong after 30 years, its iconic style has remained unchanged despite technological updates introduced by Nike.
Nike Air Jordan 1 (1985)
Before Nike introduced the silhouette of Michael Jordan as its “Jumpman” logo, the Air Jordan 1 became one of the most iconic sneakers of all time thanks to its huge cultural impact. The hi-top sneakers in red/black mark the beginning of a new era for these shoes and ended up being continually reinvented every year since it’s launch, but none surpasses the original.
New Balance 574 (1988)
While sneaker culture was largely connected to sports and hip hop in the ‘80s, the New Balance 574 was created as a running shoe and ended up being the preppy sneaker of choice. Proving the huge impact of sneakers on culture, this understated shoe has been through many incarnations, but the original grey style is still the most iconic.
Nike Air Jordan XI (1995)
The ninth generation of Air Jordans made almost as big an impact as the original. Combining new design trends and useful technologies, it’s the perfect basketball shoe that still managed to become huge in street style. As one of the most iconic sneakers of all time, it’s still very popular despite being the first one in the series to be released after Michael Jordan’s retirement.
Isabel Marant’s Wedge Sneakers (2012)
While some consider them an abomination, the wedge sneakers created by Isabel Marant have proven their style impact with countless knock-offs and are set to become one of the most iconic sneakers of all time, despite only being around for a short time. “Sneakers are so comfortable but at the same time it’s not very elegant. To have a little heel in it makes a difference, it gives you legs–I mean, I know women, I am a woman, so I know what we are searching for!” the French designer explained to Fashionista.com.