Air Jordan 1
The quintessential sneaker of today. When the Jordan 1 dropped, the path of the sneaker world changed course for good. The vibrant black and red color combination on the banned pair caught the attention of the masses, especially after the fines came in. In the past few years, the original Air Jordan sneaker has been doled out in a plethora of colorways, so there is no excuse to not have at least one iteration of one of the simplest, yet still sleekest sneakers on the market.
Air Jordan III
If the Air Jordan 1 is the originator, the Air Jordan III is the game-changer. The 1 may have introduced bright color combinations to the realm of basketball sneakers, but the III took the gaudiness there to a whole new level. Without the visible air, tumbled leather upper and elephant print hand-picked by Tinker Hatfield, the sneaker world would be a totally different place. Whether you opt for the classic “Black Cement” or “White Cement” colorway or one of the more recent releases, like the “Bright Crimson” or “Doernbecher,” any sneakerhead should have a pair of IIIs in his or her life.
The retro Air Max line is just too defining and expansive for a sneakerhead to not want to own a single pair. If you are into simplicity, go out and get yourself a pair of Air Max 1s. The 90s are not too out their either, but the “Infrared” colorway pops. Perhaps the Air Max 95 is for you if you like going out there with your footwear. And if you are more into the lesser-known stuff, get a pair of BWs or Air Max 180s. With all of the unique colorways out there, there must be one that appeals to you.
Sneaker With Current Technology
While the cushioning on your Jordans and Air Maxes will do for the more temperate times, you might get a bit uncomfortable trying to pull that off in summer heat or torrential downpour. This is where the “beater” comes in. Some people like to keep it cheap for this one, but if you’re that obsessive over sneakers, would you not want the most current, top-of-the-line technology in your beaters? Flyknit, Free, Roshe, 360 Air Max, Lunar…man, there are way too many impressive footwear advancements to not take advantage by grabbing a pair with one.
The sneaker fanatic of today might obsess over the Air Yeezy, but don’t worry. It would be wrong to think that any sneakerhead could get his hands on the elusive, Kanye West co-signed shoe. However, these younger ‘heads have to remember that before Kanye, Lil Wayne and any other rappers putting out their own lines of sneakers, there was one rap group that gave a huge endorsement to a brand they loved. Run-DMC rocked adidas Superstars all around the world, and in doing so, showed the masses one great reason to rock with the Three Stripes. Not too bulky, and not too light, the Superstar comes in a near limitless amount of color-ups, making it one of the most versatile sneakers all-around.
Converse Chuck Taylor
If the entire population of the world had to agree on one sneaker to wear for life, would there be any other shoe to come close to the Chuck Taylor? Yes, the sneaker is far outdated, but nothing is more classic than a pair of Chucks. The beyond simple look of the shoe does not clash with anything. Literally, Chuck Taylors can be worn with any articles of clothing and look great. Of course, as long as the colors are not too out of wack.
90s Athletic Sneaker
The 90s…what a great time to be a sports and sneakers fan. In particular, the NBA scene in the 90s was at an unprecedented level of excitement. Jordan may have won a lot of the championships, but he had to go through other all-time greats, like Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Penny Hardaway, Shaquille O’Neal, Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, to secure his titles. All of these NBA players blazed through their years with crazy signature sneaker lines. Throw in all of the non-signature sneakers of the time and those from other sports (does the Griffey line ring a bell?), and you have one sick assortment of sneakers to pick from to represent a golden age in the culture. Get a pair of Jordan XIs, Shaq Attaqs, Foamposites, or something else, and stunt like it’s the 90s again.
Nike SB Dunk
Skateboarding sneakers were buried deep in their own niche for a long time. Then, in 2002, Nike launched its own skateboarding line in Nike SB, and the game was changed. Sneakerheads of all kinds came out in bunches to secure some of the various SB Dunks of the last decade, including the “Supreme”, “Tiffany” and “Pigeon” makeups. Over ten years later, and although SB Dunks of today are not as sought-after as older ones, the line has stayed strong. Whether you are a fan of one of the simple general releases of the past few years or one of the exclusive collaborations that set the path for the highly collectible sneakers of today, you need at least one pair of these cool, casual shoes.
Just as fans of skateboarding sneakers were a pretty narrow group, so were fans of the non-Nike retro runners. As the 2000s drew to a close, social media took the world by storm, and in doing so, magnified the exposure of these running styles. Sneakers that once were targeted more so at the international crowds became a phenomenon in the United States. Not to mention that even if retro running silhouettes are up there for best sneakers to dress up in the summer, they can also easily be worn with a button-down and khakis year-round. At this point, if you do not own a pair of New Balance, Asics, or Saucony sneakers, be it a collaboration or your typical general release, you are just behind the trends of today.
A true sneakerhead knows when it’s finally time to put his or her sneakers away and switch for something a bit classier. Wearing Jordan XIs to a wedding does not make you a sneakerhead. It make you corny. Get a pair of dress shoes for those fancy family dinners, special occasions and clubbing sprees in the city. Certainly beats the Boyz II Men look.
WORDS: Jake Pulver