From their humble beginnings as footwear reserved for croquet and tennis, sneakers have taken the world by storm. Today the sneaker industry has a value of $80455 million and is still growing.
Sneakers became a fashion item in the 1950s when kids started wearing them as fashion statements, fuelled by celebrity endorsements of the top brands.
Today, almost everyone owns several pairs of sneakers. Some of the best-selling ones have become sought-after fashion icons.
These are the top seven most popular and famous sneakers of all time.
Air Jordan I
Air Jordans mark the onset of the meteoric rise of sneakers endorsed by noteworthy athletes, as their launch coincided with this phenomenon.
This was the first of many insanely popular versions of this shoe like the Air Jordan 4,5, 9, and 11 – all icons in their own right.
Michael Jordan is the man behind the rage surrounding these greatest of all-time sneakers.
Apart from being a remarkable athlete, Michael Jordan showed his loyalty to Nike by wearing the Nike Air Ship before its release. The Air Ship soon fell foul of the NBA rules due to its colorful design, and Nike used this publicity to launch even more controversial colorways in the Air Jordan 1.
The publicity paid off and Nike sold more than 3 million pairs of Air Jordans in its first year, well above the predicted sales figures of 100,000.
Today, fans will discover more exciting Air Jordan colorways both online and in-store.
These timeless sneakers have sold about 35 million pairs, topping the list of best-selling Adidas shoes, ever. They arrived on the market in 1950, sporting the now-famous three stripes on their sides.
Initially, the Samba was exclusively designed for the soccer field, but it soon became one of the best-selling leisure shoes around.
At the time, the shoe’s revolutionary gum outsole was highly acclaimed for helping soccer players keep their footing on icy fields.
All Sambas still have the iconic Adidas stripes, and the original black and white colorway remains the most popular design.
Now, you can get the Adidas Samba in a spikeless golf version, available in four exciting shades, featuring water-resistant microsuede, extra EVA padding, and spikeless traction on the outsole.
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star
These widely recognizable shoes have been around since 1923, and they’re still among Converse’s top-selling sneakers. It’s easy to recognize the Converse’s thick white soles, white toe cap, and star logo.
Professional athlete, Chuck Taylor, helped design the All-Star, and they’ve featured his signature since 1934. The brand still sells thousands of pairs of Chuck Taylors every day.
Nowadays, Chuck Taylors feature a host of added-comfort features. These include OrthoLite sock liners, an underfoot polyurethane wedge, thinner midsoles, and a feather-light build.
The Puma Clydes were the freshest sneakers of their time, debuting in 1973 with a stand-out suede design. This unusual material choice set the shoes apart on the basketball court and attracted a wide fan base off the court.
In 2019, Clyde sneakers still made up almost 50% of Puma’s overall revenue.
Nowadays, you can also buy Puma Clydes with full leather uppers, and you can choose from many exciting color combinations to suit any outfit.
New Balance 576
In 1988, the New Balance 576 heralded a new culture of ”dad” sneakers, known for their functional, simple design which made them the top-rated sneakers for people with wider, flatter feet.
While the original iteration only stayed on the market for a few years, New Balance released updated versions of this sneaker every few years to keep the hype going.
Created with no particular sport in mind, the New Balance 576’s design centers on cushioned comfort and often features cutting-edge colorways to appeal to any collector.
In 1989, Reebok based the design of their Pump shoes around the pumping technology used in ski boots. It was the first shoe ever to feature an internal inflation mechanism to provide locking around the high-top ankle.
Despite their higher price, Reebok Pumps became one of the best-selling shoes of the 90s, with sales soaring past the $500 million mark by 1991.
In 1991, the brand expanded the Pump range to include versions suited to walking, aerobics, running, golf, and cross-training, featuring full-foot, midfoot, arch, collar, footbed, and dual-chamber support.
To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Reebok produced 17 different Pumps, each created with the help of a top designer.
Vans Most Famous Sneakers
Vans Half Cabs hit the scene in 1989, crafted with input from Steve Caballero, one of the best-known skateboarders of the time.
The shoes had padded ankle liners for added support, and they’re still rated among the best sneakers for skateboarding among those who love this sport.
It was the’92 model that really put Vans on the map among this demographic. The new design had a pig suede upper in dress blues and taupe, separating the ollie patch and toe cap to create a more modern look.
Other improvements included a molded heel counter, locked-in tongue straps, a premium heel hold for better board control, and PopCush energy return footbeds to keep the legs fresh for longer.
Vans also changed the shape of the DURACAP underlay, removing extra bulk to eliminate hot spots while increasing the sneakers’ flexibility and durability.
Finally, the two-part foxing featured toe bumpers with a heavier knurl texture and the SickStick gum rubber compound to enhance the longevity of the shoe.
The Perfect Fit for You
The world’s most famous sneakers certainly add a touch of retro charm to any wardrobe. Yet, they have the added appeal of providing functional comfort for everyday tasks.
Whether you value fashion or functionality, no wardrobe is complete without at least one iteration of these classic designs. Browse our blog for more of the best ways to add interest and appeal to your lifestyle preferences.