Is the term “hypebeast” familiar to you? If not, stop stabbing in the dark, balloting and queueing outside places like Pacific Plaza for a chance to get close enough just to have a sniff of a limited pair.
Perhaps a few on this list are highly sought after but if you’re not looking for a colour-way that was dreamed up by Pharrell or Kanye, then dive head first into these classics. Remember that these aren’t modern designs, so the likes of any of the Knits whether they be Evo, Prime or Fly won’t be making the cut.
Just plain old leather, glue and hand-stitched types you might remember from secondary school and MTV when they were still relevant. Here are nine sneakers from beyond the 90s that are enjoying a resurgence here in Singapore:
1. Adidas Superstar, 1969
We kick things off with one of the most iconic pair of shoes of all time. Having been around since 1969, hip-hop pioneers Run DMC’s endorsement of the Adidas Superstar made it one of the most coveted sneakers of all time.
It’s one of the most versatile pairs and it enjoyed periods of resurgence in the early 2000s along with flared jeans and questionable centre partings, before returning recently with new colour ways and intriguing collaborations.
Seen on: Coachella types with Spotify playlists containing music you haven’t heard of before.
2. Adidas Stan Smith, 1965
The Stan Smiths, another pair that many swear by. I’ve known people who only wear one pair of shoes and this is it. They’ll buy the same pair in the same colour every year because they’re that comfortable and versatile.
Despite the variety of colours available, the classics are still the most popular, with the white full leather surface and a green or blue achilles tab with the emblem embossed.
Seen on: Named after Stan Smith (a former world number one tennis professional) and released in 1965, it’s become somewhat of a popular selection among young Singaporean females.
3. Adidas Gazelle, 1968
Three pairs of Adidas shoes are mentioned on this list, and this is probably the least shouted about. I like to think of the Gazelles as the suede love child of the Superstar and the Stan Smith.
Slim, sleek and light, the Gazelles are another classic of the Adidas family. Despite being the least recognised of the three on the list, its crisp design and absolute versatility make it a fantastic shoe rack must have.
Seen on: Men above 25 with simple pleasures; Scandinavian inspired minimalists that hang out at IKEA.
4. Nike Air Force 1, 1982
The Air Force 1s are so iconic that Nelly (the rapper) wrote a song about it. Available in high, mid and low-top versions, the Air Force 1s are one of Nikes most successful models, having sold 22 million pairs in 2003.
As a secondary student in the early 2000s, I owned a pair… just because they looked good, Nelly was still relevant, and everyone else was wearing them. As with all sneakers, the Air Forces come in a multitude of designs, with Nike experimenting with different materials and colour schemes.
However the white-on-whites and the black-on-blacks seem to be the colour way of choice amongst those who own a pair these days.
Seen on: Hip hop enthusiasts that still listen to A Tribe Called Quest. I recommend that everyone listen to them.
5. Nike Air Max 1, 1987
The Nike shoe with the air bubble along the heel of the sole recently celebrated Air Max Day on 26 March, turning 30 years old. Designed by a NASA engineer, this shoe is as esteemed as it comes.
With its naked air pouch on the heel, it’s become a trademark of the model and you can find Air Max fans amongst legitimate sneaker heads as well as sneaker babies.
Seen on: The next time you call your IT guy into your office, take a look at his trainers and look out for the air pocket in its heel.
6. Air Jordan I, 1985
The OGs (original gangsta) of the sneaker world. The Air Jordans are probably one of the most sought after design of shoes right now. Like many other models of sneakers, there are ballots to stand a chance to purchase one.
The first ever Air Jordan was controversial to say the least, having been banned by the NBA. Michael Jordan was fined every time he stepped onto the court and Nike undoubtedly covered those fees in a stroke of marketing genius.
Seen on: The distinct colour panels of the high-top retro Jordans are still seen today as the sneaker of choice for basketball fans, sneakerphiles and sometimes Ah Bengs.
7. Air Jordan III, 1988
Of all the Jordans, these are probably one of the most recognised models. The Jordan 3s are the brainchild of Tinker Hatfield, the genius behind the exposure of the “Air Pocket” in the Nike Air Max design. The Jordan 3s feature the unique air pocket of the Air Max and is also the first pair of Jordans to feature the iconic Jumpman logo.
Arguably one of the best sneakers of all time, the origin story behind the shoe and its design is rumoured to have saved Nike, with Jordan looking to leave the brand.
Seen on: Usually seen on the feet of serial sneakerphiles. Despite the risk of spillage and stiletto stabs, you can find them on fearless clubbers.
8. Converse Chuck Taylors / All Stars, 1917
Good ol’ canvas shoes – Converse All Star, the choice of shoes for those that grew up in the 90s. The Chuck Taylors are the oldest sneakers on this list, coming in at 100 years old. “Chucks”, as they’re affectionately called, still boast the same designs since its inception. How’s that for timeless?
Seen on: Who hasn’t owned a pair of All Stars?
9. Puma Clyde, 1973
The simple Puma Clydes are a throwback to the 80s, when hip-hop was a fledgling child and breakdancing was still relevant. The birth of hip-hop and its forefathers brought with it a strong street and sneaker culture that has prevailed to this day.
The rebels of Disco ditched the flash and glitz of Saturday nights for the smooth oration of suede and break beats.
Seen on: It’s uncanny but I’ve found this a favourite amongst young fathers who still want casual vibrancy, but with sole support.
There are a ton of sneakers to choose from in this day and age, with a whole wave of modern sneakers most likely made with materials gathered from the moon or what not. Old will always be gold though and you now know about these classics that you can probably raid from an elder sibling, cousin or neighbour.
If you fail on that front though, you could always check out these specialty sneaker shops in Singapore to score a pair.