What’s on your feet speaks volumes about a man, and there’s nothing cooler than a stylish pair of trainers. We take a look at the 10 most iconic trainers of all time.
From their origins as functional pieces of sports kit, trainers are now high-end fashion accessories. First popularised in 1932 when Chuck Taylor lent his name to a new range of basketball boots, no one realised that a multibillion global industry was being born. The footwear of choice for some of the world’s most celebrated sporting and cultural icons, now in the 21st century they remain icons of popular culture.
The Converse ‘Chuck Taylor’ All Star
Perhaps the classic trainer, the design of the All-Star has remained largely unchanged since its inception in 1917. Renamed the ‘Chuck Taylor’ All-Star in 1932, the shoe is characterised by its white rubber toecap. Although it can come in various materials, it remains best known for its cotton canvas upper. As popular now as it ever has been, the Converse ‘Chuck Taylor’ All-Star is the true granddaddy of fashion trainers.
The Adidas Gazelle is a timeless classic. Released in 1968, it rapidly became football’s favourite trainer and has gone on to become their most popular retro sports shoe. The Gazelle has never changed in design, but it has been a fashion favourite of successive generations, perhaps most famously being linked with the Britpop movement and bands such as Blur and Oasis.
Launched in 1989, Reebok Pump technology was quickly imitated by a number of competitors, but it’s the original Reeboks that are the still to this day the most sought after trainer of this type. These basketball trainers could arguably be described as the trainer of the early 90s.
Nike Air Jordan
Quite rightly described as the trainer that changed everything. When Air Jordans were released in 1985, they took trainers from the practical and functional and spirited them into the realms of uber cool fashion. Branded on the back of the ultra talented and highly charismatic Michael Jordan, they remain as arguably the world’s greatest ever trainer to this day.
The ultimate skater shoe, the Sk8-Hi was the skateboarding trainer that changed everything. Before these, skateboarding shoes were just glorified deck shoes, but these took them into a whole new exciting direction. Inspired by Converse, they offered skaters ankle protection and support as well as a style not seen before.
Adidas Stan Smith
The Adidas Stan Smith was launched in 1971 and was one of the first ever all leather tennis trainers. However, in the UK it was on the football terraces that the Stan Smith was at its most popular, the trainer being the favourite footwear of the ‘Casuals’ movement in the late 70s and 80s.
New Balance 576
One of the most collectable trainers of all time, the New Balance 576 was released in 1986. Hugely popular with collectors around the world, this dedicated running shoe is now the discerning choice for collectors around the world from Tokyo to New York.
Nike Air Max
First released in 1987l Nike Air Max trainers are one of the world’s most popular ever trainers. Designed by Tinker Hatfield, they rapidly became a favourite in the rap community. Having been revised several times over the years, Nike Air Max still remain iconic trainers with some of the earliest examples fetching big money when bought by collectors.
Released in 2001 when skate shoes were getting bulkier, the Osiris D3 took it to the extreme. Designed by professional skateboarder Dave Mayhew D3s are seriously fat and full of what was then the latest technology. The Osiris D3 prompted wildly different opinions from skateboarders, but they certainly got people talking and take their place proudly in the history of sports shoes.
Starting life out as basketball shoes in 1969, one of the world’s most popular ever changers has seen it move gradually from the basketball court to the pavement. An iconic piece of fashion design, the Superstar was further popularised by the rap group Run DMC who wore their Adidas Superstar’s without laces.