There is never a shortage of new sneakers releasing. Every weekend brings with it a new wave of heat. But as with many things in our snackable, disposable culture, the item that is hyped one weekend/month/year is quickly forgotten about, replaced with a new flavor of the weekend/month/year. Amidst that, it’s rare for a sneaker to have staying power. Without changing, certain sneakers manage to adapt to evolving fashions and still feel appropriate and stylish.
Some releases from the past few years have that “future classic” status. The Adidas Ultra Boost and Nike Roshe are two that come to mind. But like a good whiskey, they still need to age a bit before earning their place alongside the sneakers below. These are models that have already proven their worth and will continue to do so. No matter how the fickle finger of fashion sways, these sneakers will never go out of style.
Vans seems to go through cycles where different models are the “It” shoe. Right now, the Old Skool and the Sk8-Hi are getting a lot of shine. Other times the Slip-On gets a ton of love. But you can never go wrong with a pair of Eras. The shoe of choice for the pioneering skate crew the Z-Boys is still as versatile as sneakers get, looking sharp with boardshorts at the beach and with a suit at a wedding.
AIR JORDAN 3
When Michael Jordan took off from the free throw line in the 1988 NBA Slam Dunk contest, he had Air Jordan 3s in the white/cement colorway on his feet. The shoes have held legend status ever since, and incite long lines whenever a new pair releases. Even though the style is approaching its 30th anniversary, they still feel as fresh as ever.
CONVERSE CHUCK TAYLOR ALL STAR
C'mon, it’s the Chuck. What other shoe has graced the feet of everyone from Wilt Chamberlain to Elvis Presley to The Ramones? While you probably wouldn’t want to play basketball in the high tops anymore, Chucks still perform great for just about every other activity, whether it’s slaying on a guitar to painting a mural. In fact, one of the best aspects of the shoes is that the canvas upper on the shoe itself serves as such a good, well, canvas for creativity.
NIKE SB DUNK HIGH
The full-on Dunk craze of the aughts in many ways accelerated the hype around sneakers that only continues to grow today. That frenzy has largely dissipated, but the Dunk silhouette, especially the high top, remains one of the best in the game. What started off as a basketball shoe evolved into a skate shoe, and is now just an all-around dope shoe. The design of the upper lends itself to great color blocking, and the clean lines endure even as sneakers become more technical and futuristic.
ADIDAS STAN SMITH
Much like the Vans Authentic, the Stan Smith succeeds because of its minimalism. Everything is wonderfully understated, from the perforated three stripe branding to the small pops of color on the heel and tongues. Even though the shoe doesn’t say much, it speaks volumes.
ASICS GEL-LYTE III
The Gel-Lyte III was a really innovative running sneaker when it first came out in 1990. Instead of the traditional tongue that can move from side to side when you move, the Gel-Lyte III has a split tongue that wraps the foot for a distinct look and fit. While the OG colors still stand out, the sneaker also benefits from a ton of attention from Ronnie Fieg, the mastermind behind sneaker and streetwear brand Kith. Fieg’s collaborations on the Gel-Lyte III helped make people realize just how great of a shoe it is.
The Adidas Samba may be a more popular indoor soccer shoe, but the Gazelle is its more handsome cousin. The suede upper looks great in a multitude of different colors. The shape of the Gazelle also has that rare quality where pants just fall on it perfectly. Whether it’s a pair of slim jeans, wide-legged trousers, or cuffed sweatpants, they all look flattering when they meet the top of Gazelle.
NIKE AIR MAX 90
The Air Max 90 isn’t what you’d call a subtle shoe. From the bright orange on the most famous “Infrared” colorway to the large badge on the heel and sharkfin-like framing around the visible air cushioning, the AM90 is a bold shoe. Yet it manages to not come off tacky. There is obviously a retro appeal to the running sneaker, but it also somehow manages to always feel very of-the-moment no matter what year it’s worn in.