The Best Sneakers Of All Time, As Picked By Sneakerheads | FashionBeans (2023)

There are trainer wearers: people who, well, wear trainers. And then there are sneakerheads: frenzied collectors, bloggers, buyers and resellers responsible for an industry that, by 2020, is predicted to be worth $220bn; more than the GDP of New Zealand, Portugal or Qatar.

And if you ask anyone in this modern-day subculture – which has its own boutiques, blogs, books, exhibitions and even pawn shops – how many pairs they own, the answer will frequently reach into the thousands.

So surely whittling down the endless new releases, limited editions and collaborations these sneaker obsessives hustle, camp and queue around the block overnight to get their hands on would be an impossible task?

That’s exactly what we got some of the biggest names in the game to do. Here arethe greatest sneakers of all time, according to the people whoreallyknow what they’re talking about.

Nike Air Max 1, 1987

The Expert: Sean Williams

“My favorite sneaker of all time is, and always will be the original red, grey and white Nike Air Max 1,” saysSean ‘Paperchasr’ Williams, who co-founded the wildly popular podcast Obsessive Sneaker Disorder.

“Launched in 1987, it was the first sneaker created by focusing on the midsole, an approach now used by every major sportswear company in the world. Thirty years on, the Air unit is still one of most copied design features and has even made its way into dress shoes. In my opinion, no other sneaker has changed the game quite like it.”

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Adidas Stan Smith, 1965

The Journalist: Matt Welty

“The Stan Smith was never supposed to be the Stan Smith,” says Matt Welty, associate editor of theComplexsneakers channel. “When Adidas first manufactured the sneaker in 1965, it was given to French tennis star Robert Haillet. It would be another eight years until Stan’s now-signature photo would grace the tongue of the shoe.

“What makes the Stan Smith the greatest sneaker ever isn’t who it’s named after, although Stan himself would go on to win both Wimbledon and the US Open during his tennis career. But rather that it’sa design so simple– with its white leather upper, perforated Three Stripes, and green splash on the heel – that it can’t be bettered. It’s become Adidas’ best-selling shoe ever and like Stan Smith the man, the shoe keeps on keeping on.”

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Air Jordan 3, 1988

The Reseller: Tyler Blake

“It’s difficult to nail down the best of all time, but I would say near the top of my list is the Air Jordan 3,” saysTyler Blake, who has produced collaborations with the likes of Saucony.

“The model was the brand’s saving grace in the late eighties, and helped cement Michael Jordan’s legacy within footwear. Everything from the elephant print to the tongue branding and flight script are all still synonymous with Jordan today. The now iconic ‘Jumpman’ logo also first appeared on this shoe, replacing the Wings logo on the Jordan 1 and 2. This, combined with the technical abilities of what I feel is the best off-court lifestyle sneaker, is why the Jordan 3 deserves a spot in the hall of fame.”

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Mita Sneakers x Reebok Classic Leather, 2013

The Blogger: Patrick Dempsey

“Clean. Classic. Timeless. Ask me to draw a sneaker and this is the silhouette I would start sketching,” says Patrick Dempsey, who blogs under the aliasSneakerGrandpa.

“The Reebok Classic is the model that sparked the collecting bug for me. Leather, suede, mesh, nubuck – it doesn’t really matter. Add in a gum sole and I’m set. There have been so many great releases over the years, but the 30th Anniversary pack, which contained collaborations like this one by Tokyo sneaker store Mita, as well as Michigan-based boutique Burn Rubber and the late sneaker journalist Gary Warnett, from 2013 tops my list.”

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Adidas Originals SL80, 1980

The Store Owner: Brendan Wyatt

“My tastes change all the time, but if I had to pick a favorite out of the ones I have owned I would go with the Adidas SL80 in a navy/gold colorway,” says Brendan Wyatt, owner of deadstock specialist Transalpino.

“Released to coincide with the 1980 Moscow Olympics, the athletic shoe takes elements from its predecessor, the SL72, and runs with them. I made the mistake of selling mine when I reopened Transalpino back in May 2015, but I recently found an OG pair at a secret location in Asia. It would be hard to upstage the SL80, unless of course I found a pair of the extremely rare SL82s.”

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New Balance M1300JP, 2010

The Restorer: Robert Stewart

“As with most things New Balance does well, simplicity is the key to thisall-time classic silhouette,” says Robert Stewart, founder of professional sneaker cleaning service and brandSneakers ER.

“Introduced in 1985 and hailed as the first running shoe to cost over $100, the JP still holds firm as the holy grail for many collectors of the brand. Re-released every five years, expect a scramble come 2020 as we all try and catch a limited pair (or two, or three).”

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Nike Air Jordan 4 ‘Bred’, 1989

The Collector: Kish Kash

“Whether they actually like them or not, every sneakerhead knows that few styles revolutionized the sportswear industry like the Air Jordans,” says Kish Kash, who has forked out more than £250,000 on his collection of over 2,000 trainers.

“Aside from having an endorsement from the greatest basketball player of all time and a campaign by legendary hypeman Spike Lee, Nike designer Tinker Hatfield completely transformed the blueprint of how athletic kicks could look. I was the first person in the UK to own a pair and when I wore them, people would literally be twisting their necks to get a look. I even met one of my best mates by bonding over the model, proving that the right style can transcend being mere cool footwear, and can even cement the bond between lasting friendships.”

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Converse Chuck Taylor Hi-Top, 1936

The Instagrammer: Maj Veloso

“Out of all the kicks I’ve owned over the years, my greatest of all time has to be theConverse Chuck Taylor high-top,” saysMaj Veloso, whose sneaker Instagram account has more than 25k followers.

“The timeless style is what first got me into sneaker collecting around 10 years ago and at one point I owned over 120 pairs, a good handful of which were Chucks. Bought in a classic black colorway, they can be matched up with anything from a pair of jeans to shorts.”

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Common Project Achilles Low, 2004

The Buyer: Luke Mountain

“Stripped-back silhouettes have been aubiquitous trend across the sneaker market for a number of seasons now; albeit with contemporary twists such as stamp detailing, color variation and designer collaborations,” saysSelfridgesbuying manager Luke Mountain.

“Launched in 2004, Common Projects’ Achilles Low epitomizes this new laid-back style and paved the way for simple sneakers as we know them to infiltrate every aspect of the male wardrobe, even tailoring. With their quality construction and wearable, minimalistic design, it’s easy to see why they are recognized as future classics.”

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Nike Air Max 1 Jewel, 2017

The Store Manager: Simon Blenkinsop

“AtSoleheaven, we’re big on three things: a minimalist approach, subtle branding and classy materialization,” says Simon Blenkinsop, manager of the Newcastle-based sneaker boutique.

“For us, the shoe that exemplifies all three more than any is Nike’s Crown Jewel of sorts, the Air Max 1 ‘Jewel’. After returning this year to duke it out with multiple OG releases, the Jewel displayed everything needed for a modern-day drop. Accents of color on the branding pop against the monochrome palette, with the subtle Jewel swoosh showing addition by subtraction. After a series of drops this year (my favorite being the ‘Carolina Blues’), I can’t wait to see the next.”

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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.

What is Nike's #1 selling shoe? ›

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.

What is the most popular sneaker brand for collectors and sneakerheads? ›

Shoes were not just for functionality, but became a key part of one's identity in fashion and pop culture. In its latest findings, Statista market research and consumer data have indicated that Nike (NYSE:NKE -0.27%) is the world's most popular sneaker brand.

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 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 the most popular shoe in America? ›

Sneakers are the most popular type of shoe in the US.

The Nike Air Force 1 is the most popular sneaker.

What is the highest shoe sales? ›

With footwear sales of $29 billion in the fiscal year ended May 31, 2022 (plus $2 billion from Converse), Nike is the clear number 1 in the global sneakers market.

Who owns the rarest Jordan collection? ›

Jordan Geller, who was certified by Guinness World Records as owner of the largest sneaker collection in the world, told the Wall Street Journal that he anticipates the incomplete game-worn Dynasty Collection to sell for, “at least $20 million … maybe $100 million.”

Who is the greatest sneaker head? ›

Top sneakerheads in Hollywood include DJ Khaled, Chris Brown, Nick Cannon and 2 more. DJ Khaled is known for his larger-than-life personality, his hit music, and his love for sneakers.

Do sneakerheads wear their sneakers? ›

Sneakerheads own at least a few pairs of Jordans or Yeezys, and while some collectors do not wear their footwear to retain the resale value, most sneakerheads will wear even their multi-thousand-dollar pairs.

Who wore the most expensive pair of sneakers ever sold? ›

1. 1998 NBA Finals Game 2 Michael Jordan Worn and Signed Jordan XIIIs. Just months after Jordan's jersey from Game 1 of The Last Dance Finals became the most expensive game-worn sports memorabilia ever sold at $10.1 million, his sneakers from Game 2 became the most expensive sneakers ever sold.

What shoes should I buy to start a collection? ›

The Five Must-Have Footwear for Your Shoe Capsule Wardrobe
  • Everyday Sneakers. You don't have to be into streetwear to rock a pair of sneakers. ...
  • Closed-Toed Flat Shoes. Your second pair should be a close-toed pair of versatile shoes for business and pleasure. ...
  • Open-Toed Flat Shoes. ...
  • Formal Shoes. ...
  • Boots.
Jun 28, 2023

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 was Michael Jordan's favorite sneakers? ›

Michael Jordan called the Air Jordan 11 Concord his favorite

He chose the 1996 Air Jordan Concord 11 as his favorite, followed by the Air Jordan 3. And a game-worn sneaker from 1996, which also happens to be the GOAT's favorite? We can't think of a better reason as to why it sold for such an absurd sum of money.

Who were the most expensive pair of sneakers ever sold? ›

Basketball icon Michael Jordan's sneakers from the 1998 NBA finals have fetched more than $2.2m (£1.8m) at auction - making them the most expensive pair of trainers ever sold.

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