Style is always changing, and a big part of fashion is what you wear on your feet. Sneaker culture has changed a lot ever since Converse came up with the Chuck Taylor All-Stars and when Michael Jordan stepped onto the court with the Air Jordan I.
Sneaker culture wasn’t mainstream in the past; people probably just bought sneakers off the shelves in stores and wore them with no second thoughts. There were nice sneakers available in the 70s and 80s, but they didn’t cause a shift in the culture, nothing like what happened in 1985.
In 1985, the world’s most recognisable basketball player back then (and probably still now) teamed up with Nike to give us the Air Jordan I. It was a big deal, because it’s Michael Jordan; everything with Jordan is a big deal.
Subsequent Air Jordan sneakers also garnered a lot of attention, and soon enough, kids and adults were running around with J’s on their feet. A lot of it also has to do with hip-hop culture but we shall not talk about that; let’s just focus on how the style has evolved.
Chunky and high-top basketball sneakers then became the norm in the late 80s and 90s. Nike Air More Uptempo, Air Max2 CB 94 and Foamposite One were the cool shoes.
These days, it’s hard to see anyone wearing the latest basketball shoes out on the streets. Wearing the old-school ones might work, but putting on that flashy new Nike LeBron 15 might seem a little out of place when walking around town.
People also loved colours on their shoes back in the 2000s. At one point, I swear it felt like Nike and Adidas were just competing to see who could come up with the craziest colours or see who could put the most colours on a single shoe.
Want proof? Take a look at Nike’s What The? series. Yeah, the colour combinations were so wild that it’d make you go “what the…”.
So people loved wearing basketball shoes; skate shoes and running sneakers were popular as well, but Air Jordan kicks were the reigning champion. However, the champion’s crown has moved to another contender in recent years.
If you take a look now, you’ll see that Air Jordan shoes don’t sell out anymore, and sometimes you can still find them sitting on shelves. The designs used to be immensely popular, with almost every release selling out.
What happened? Adidas happened. Back in December 2015, Adidas launched a new sneaker silhouette that changed the game: the NMDs. It was sleek and slim, and all of a sudden, people wanted to wear running shoes. After all, they are a lot easier to put on than basketball shoes, am I right?
In late 2017, it was reported that Nike was losing market share to Adidas. Although Nike still controls most of the market in the United States, Adidas has pretty much taken over the Air Jordan subsidiary of Nike.
It also didn’t help that Nike was releasing a ton of Air Jordan sneakers, which oversaturated the market.
Then of course, there was the influence of hip-hop and streetwear mogul, Kanye West. His Adidas Yeezy line is always hyped up, and if you look at the Yeezy Boost 350 and Yeezy Boost 350 V2, you can see how the style of mainstream sneakers has indeed changed.
Monochromatic colours also became a big hit, and they still are pretty popular actually. All-black and all-white sneakers are coveted by the masses, with them being dubbed as triple black or triple white. The Adidas Ultra Boost was one such shoe that took full advantage of the trend, releasing in several iterations of black and white.
To summarise, it basically went from big basketball shoes to slimmed-down everyday sneakers. So what if you combine the best of both worlds? You get the newest fashion statement of 2018.
It actually started off in 2017, but 2018 will be the definitive year for chunky low-top sneakers. These are known as “dad shoes” because they look like the kind of shoes your dad would put on.
Even Kanye is making Yeezys look like “dad shoes” now, with the introduction of the Yeezy Boost 700 “Wave Runner”. Luxury fashion houses have also jumped on the bandwagon, with Balenciaga creating the Triple S and Versace’s Chain Reaction sneaker with 2 Chainz.
Raf Simons has also been on the hype for some time now with his Ozweego line of sneakers, and Adidas has an upcoming shoe called the Yung-1, which would be the perfect Father’s Day gift.
With these bulky shoes, you either love ‘em or you don’t; there isn’t an in-between. But like it or not, this is the foreseeable future of the sneaker culture, and it looks like it’s here to stay for quite some time.
Nobody is forcing you to buy what you don’t like though. Don’t be a victim of the hype and start buying shoes you don’t like, just to show others that you’re “trendy”.
If sticking to a pair of retro Air Jordan Is is your thing, then just do it. Who needs Balenciaga?