The 15 best sneakers of all time: Nike Air Jordan to Adidas Stan Smith (2023)

With Jordan Brand and Dior teamingup to createthe much-hyped Air Jordan OG 1 Dior, whipping up a frenzy not seen in the sneaker world for some time,we look back at someof the coolest and most famoustrainers of all time.

These are the shoes that made the news, broke the rulesand helped shaped the fashion world today.

If you have everwondered why sports shoes are today such a major part of the everyday wardrobe, then these options will help you understand.

1.Converse Chuck Taylor All Star (1923)

2.Adidas Samba (1950)

3.Puma Suede (1968)

4. Puma Clyde (1973)

5.Onitsuka Tiger Corsair (1969)

6. Nike Air Jordan (1985)

7. Reebok The Pump (1989)

8. New Balance 990 (1982)

9. Nike Air Max 1 (1987)

10. Nike Air Huarache (1991)

11. Adidas Stan Smith (1963)

12. Nike Air Force 1 (1982)

13. Vans Half Cab (1992)

14. Reebok Ex-O-Fit (1983)

15. Nike Air Jordan 11 (1996)

The Converse All-Star was unveiled in 1917, and then underwent something of a redesign in 1921, when semi-professional basketball player Charles (Chuck)Taylor asked the company to give the shoe better ankle support and more flexibility.

The resulting shoe became very popularand, in 1923, Converse officially added Taylor’s signature to the ankle patch, making it the firstcelebrity-endorsed sports shoe, and launching a design unchanged in almost 90 years.

Virtually unchanged since launching 70 years ago, this is the biggest-selling Adidas shoe of all time.

It was originally created to allow footballers totrainon hard or icy ground, andit was builtfor endurance, out ofhard-wearing kangaroo leather, and a distinctive-shaped toe for added strength.

Simple in design, it has proved to be enduringly popular, and has influenced a host of other shoes, including the Stan Smith and the Superstar (from 1969 and most famous for its association with US rappers, Run DMC), and is considered a design classic.

Puma unveiled the Suede in early 1968, but it didn't become famous until theMexico Olympic Games of that year, when American athlete Tommie Smith broke the 200-metre world record.

The 15 best sneakers of all time: Nike Air Jordan to Adidas Stan Smith (1)

As he went to the podium to receive his gold medal, he carried a single Puma Suede shoe, which he placed on the ground, before raising his right fist in a silent Black Panther salute for equality and human rights. Heindelibly linkedthe Suede with one of the most powerful moments in sporting history.

The Clyde was named for, and endorsed by, legendary basketball player Walt 'Clyde' Frazier. Playing for the New York Knicks, Frazier earned the nick name 'Clyde' for his habit of wearing a hat similar to that worn by Warren Beatty in the film Bonnie and Clyde.

As well known for his dress sense as his playing skills, Frazier regularly wore Puma Suedes off the courtand,although it was already standard for sportswear companiesto give players free shoes and clothes to wear, they were not being paid in any way.

That all changed when Frazier, who put his name to the Suede ‘Clyde's in 1973, and became the firstbasketball player to sign a deal with a sports company, paving the way for the likes of Michael Jordan over a decade later.

Puma extended Frazier's contract in 2018, saying it was"for life".

The Tiger Corsair is beloved by purists and steeped in controversy. First launched in 1969 as the Cortez, this shoe tapped into the rising boom in running, offering unrivalled cushioning, with arch supports, a full-length mid-sole, and a thicker, wedged heel.

The 15 best sneakers of all time: Nike Air Jordan to Adidas Stan Smith (2)

Renamed the Corsair just a year later, its design impressed Nike founders Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight so much, it is said they closely copied it, added an extra EVA cushion into the heel, reinstatedits original name, and sold it as the Nike Cortez.

The Cortez rapidly earned a name for being the perfect shoe, but purists will always think that title belongs to the Tiger Corsair.

Widely credited as starting the whole sneaker-head genre, the first Air Jordan was created for basketball legendMichael ‘Air’ Jordan, in 1984. That was when he was still playing for the Chicago Bulls.

In October of that year, Jordan walked onto court wearing a pair of distinctive black and red high-tops, with a red Nike Swoosh and red laces.

America's National Basketball Association deemed them a ‘technical foul’ and threatened Jordan with a $5,000 (Dh18,362 today)fine if he wore them again. Unperturbed, Nike added white, to comply to the NBA footwear code, and Jordan wore them again, this time unchallenged.

The following year, they went into production, and we have seen countless iterations flood the market since, including the most recent tie-up with Dior for the Air Jordan OG1 Dior.

In response to Nike’s huge success with the Air Jordan – and its capsule of compressed gas in the heel – Reebokcame up with something to rival it. All eyes turned to an inflatable ski boot produced by Ellesse(now owned by Reebok) for inspiration, and in less than a year the company had designed The Pump, with a revolutionarybladder insidethe shoe that could be inflatedand deflated by pressing an orange basketball on the tongue.

Despite being 50 per centmore expensive than any other sneaker on the market, it quickly became the only shoe to be seen in.

Often dismissed as the ‘dad’ sneaker, the 990 was in fact a ground breaker when it launched in 1982.

In an era when sports shoes were in lurid neons, the 990 arrived in steel grey suede, making it immediately identifiable, and ideal to wear off track as well as on.

The 15 best sneakers of all time: Nike Air Jordan to Adidas Stan Smith (3)

Snapped up by New York's well dressed, soon it was everywhere, despite being the firstsneaker to retail for over $100, which is worth more than $273 in today’s money.

Although outrageously expensive at the time, its new look, and high price made it irresistible to many.

Created by the world’s most famous sneaker designer, the improbably named Tinker Hatfield, this was the first shoe to offer a sole with a window.

Inspired by the ‘inside-out’ design of the Pompidou Centre in Paris, Hatfield transposed that thinking into the new shoe he was working on, and decided toputthe existing ‘Air’ technology (a capsule of compressed gas in the heel) on display.

Launched in what it dubbed “University red and white”, it became a bestseller.Fans were delighted by being able to see the technology normally hidden away.

Another design by Hatfield, the Huarache is said to be inspired by a Mayan sandal and a water ski-boot, asHatfield combined the two to create a snug-fitting shoe.

It was the first shoe ever to be made with an inner sock made of neoprene that was housed insideplastic caging. It was designedfor maximum comfort, and to fit like a glove, and shifted the idea of how sneakers should look and fit, forever.

First made in 1963-64, this shoewas called the Adidas Robert Haillet, afterthe French tennis player. When Haillet retired, however, the hunt was onfor another tennis champion to endorse the shoe.

In 1971, it was renamed the ‘Stan Smith’ for the American player, and had distinctive green padding added to the heel.

It was known as the Smithfor some reason between 1973 and 1978, as Adidas rather confusingly kept both Smith’s portrait and Haillet's name on the tongue. Only in 1978 was all reference to Haillet removed and itofficially renamed the Adidas Stan Smith.

Tasked with creating a shoe to break into the lucrative basketball market, Nike designer Bruce Kilgore began experimenting with a shape taken from a hiking boot, which had a shaft sloping down from the ankle to the Achilles heel.It was supposed togive support, but alsoallow greater freedom of movement.

Kilgorealso ditched thetraditional herringbone pattern outsole, designing instead a circular pattern that gave players added grip regardless of whichway they pivoted.

His designs were so successful that, at the launch,a record six NBA players had signed up to wear the shoesfor the season.

It was named after the US president's plane,the Air Force 1, but in 1986, despite being a bestseller, Nike decided to discontinue it, convinced that its moment had past.

Customer demand, however, meant it was quickly reinstated, and Nike learned that some designs are too well-loved to ever go out of fashion.Today, it comes in 2,000 different variations.

In 1989 the famous skater Steve Caballero– known for his vertical height out of the half-pipe– teamed up with Vans to create a high-top skate shoe that carried his name, the Caballero.

Immediately popular, it was snapped by the fans, but soon Caballero noticed skaters were cutting down the height around the ankle, to give more flexibility when performing tricks.

So, he went back to Vans and asked them to modify the design, anddesigner Bunny Caminitigave the new shoe a sloping mid-top, and in 1992 the mid-height Half Cab was born.

Introduced in 1983 as the male version of the previous year's Freestyle women's sneaker, the Ex-O-Fit tapped into the 1980’s growing obsession with getting fit and working out.

With its single Velcro strap and terry towelling-lined high-top, this leather shoe also helped bridge the gap between sports, street and fashion wear.

Its androgynous design (despite being aimed at men) saw it worn by a wide cross-section of society, helping sneakers migrate into becoming acceptable as everyday wear.

When Michael Jordan asked Nike to create him a sneaker in patent black, which he could wear on court as well as to something a bit more dressy, Nike designer Hatfield came up with the Air Jordan 11.And possibly the best loved shape of all time.

A mix of slick black patent, whichran ankle to toe, and laces that ran through industrial meshing, its sloped silhouette is now regarded as the ultimate shape.

Jordan liked them so much he wore them to his 4th NBA championship against the Bulls, as well as in his 1996 filmSpace Jam, co-starring Bugs Bunny.

The 15 best sneakers of all time: Nike Air Jordan to Adidas Stan Smith (4)

As for whichsneaker is the most expensive of all time, that title goes to the Nike Moon Shoe, sold at auction in 2019 for a staggering $437,500 (Dh1,606,000). Only 12 pairs were ever made.

Designed for the 1972 Olympic trails(in the hope of raising the profile for the then newly formed company Nike), they were designed by co-founder Bowerman.

Using nylon uppers brought in from Japan,the shoes were hand-assembled by Geoff Hollisterusing fishing wire.

Nicknamed the “Moon Shoe”, because of the distinctive patterning of the soles, they were said to resemble the footprints left on the Moon by the Apollo astronauts.

The prototype sole is said to haveactually been made by Bowerman pouring rubber into his familywaffle iron.

Despite suchcrudeness, runners liked the feel of this new lightweight shoe, and it was put into production in 1974 as the Nike Waffle Trainer.


What is the most iconic sneaker of all time? ›

The 1970 Chuck Taylor may be the most iconic sneaker of all time. The model has undergone a restyling upping the game with premium fixings, improved stability, and modern comfort to create what is now known as the Chuck 70.

Is Adidas more popular than Jordan? ›

Adidas Moves Ahead of Jordan Brand as 2nd-Most Popular Sneaker in US After Nike | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors | Bleacher Report.

What is so special about Stan Smith Adidas? ›

Known as the 'Haillet', the shoe was designed to improve comfort and breathability. The derby cut leather upper was not only more durable that other tennis shoes on the market, it was also more comfortable – in part thanks to the famous perforated three stripes on the side of the shoe which allowed for air circulation.

What is the No 1 sneaker brand? ›

With an estimated market share of 18 percent, Nike is the clear number one in the global sneaker landscape. That figure underestimates Nike's dominance in the game, however, as both the second-placed Jordan brand and Converse in seventh place are also owned by the Beaverton, Oregon-based sportswear giant.

What is the oldest sneaker brand? ›

Origins and etymology. The earliest "sneakers" debuted in 1876, made by the England-based New Liverpool Rubber Company, and were immediately notable as the world's first rubber-soled shoes.

Who is number 1 Nike or Adidas? ›

Nike dominates the global sneaker market with a 65.9% market share, while Adidas has a 14.7% market share. This statistic is a powerful indicator of Nike's dominance in the global sneaker market.

Which is best Nike or Adidas? ›

If we talk about style and comfort, no one is the clear winner in the battle of best shoes in India. In short, choosing Nike shoes or Adidas shoes depends on personal taste. Both companies have a good reputation and offer high-quality footwear.

Which is more better Nike or Adidas? ›

Nike is typically considered more popular than Adidas. Nike has established itself as a global brand and household name, with a strong presence in sportswear and a reputation for quality products.

Who wears Stan Smith? ›

While the Stan Smith sneaker remains a functional pair of tennis shoes for women and men, it has gradually evolved into an international street style icon, beloved by athletes and celebrities like A$AP Rocky, Kanye West, Miranda Kerr, Julianne Moore, and Kylie Jenner.

Do people still wear Stan Smiths? ›

Since the 1970s, Adidas Stan Smiths have reigned supreme as one of the most popular and iconic sneakers of all time. Named for the American tennis player (yes, there is a real Stan Smith), the quintessential sneaker had a renaissance in the fashion world in the 2010s that's still going strong well into 2023.

Who wears Stan Smith sneakers? ›

Adidas Stan Smith Sneakers have found their way into the wardrobes of A-listers like Meghan Markle, Kendall Jenner, and Katie Holmes, who each love to wear the comfy leather shoes when they're off duty. And, it's not hard to see why they're Hollywood-favorite shoes.

What is the number 1 shoe sold in America? ›

The Nike Air Force 1 is the most popular sneaker. The average cost of a sneaker in 2020 was $70.

Which is the most expensive shoes in the world? ›

What are the top 10 most expensive shoes in the world?
  • Moon Star Shoes by Antonio Vietri – $19.9 million.
  • Diamond Shoes by Jada Dubai x Passion Diamond – $17 million.
  • Diamond Stilettos by Debbie Wingham – $15.1 million.
  • Les Ruby Slippers by Harry Winston – $3 million.
  • Rita Hayworth Heel by Stuart Weitzman – $3 million.
Jul 12, 2023

Where are the most shoes sold in the world? ›

China was the world's leading consumer of footwear, with around 4.32 billion pairs of shoes bought in 2021. It is of little surprise that China tops the list of footwear consumers as it had the highest number of inhabitants on the planet as of 2021.

What is the most iconic Nike product? ›

The Nike Air Jordan 1, designed by Peter Moore, is one of the most iconic designs in the history of both streetwear and basketball, and is a key part of the origin of the Air Jordan brand. In 1984, Nike gave Michael Jordan his own signature line of shoes and clothes.

What are the rarest pair of sneakers? ›

From Air Jordans and Yeezy's to sneakers covered in gold and diamonds, here are the top 10 rarest sneakers in the world.
  1. Nike Air Yeezy 1 'Grammy' ...
  2. Sneaker Freaker x BespokeIND Air Force 1s. ...
  3. Air Jordan 1 PE. ...
  4. Solid Gold OVO x Air Jordans. ...
  5. Jordan 1 Retro High Charlotte Hornets Foundation. ...
  6. Buscemi 100 MM Diamond.

What is Nike's most popular item? ›

From its origins on the basketball court to its enduring cultural impact, let's take a deep dive into the story of the Air Force 1. Let's discover the evolution of this iconic silhouette. The best selling shoes ever made by Nike are the Air Force 1, approximately 10 million pairs are sold around the world in a year.

Who has the best sneaker collection of all time? ›

Jordan Geller is the ShoeZeum owner. In 2012, the Guinness Book of World Records named him as having the biggest sneaker collection on the planet.

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