Whether you have a small collection or a whole room filled with kicks, you should always have at least one pair of these 30 iconic sneakers in your rotation. From Nike to Jordan to adidas and everything in between, this mix of models will have you covered in nearly any situation you wanna rock sneakers. Featuring a nice mix of old and new, if you’ve confined yourself to only rocking kicks from a certain brand or two, hopefully this feature can help you branch out and find something new that you may just end up loving. And if you have at least one pair of every single one of these models, definitely give yourself a shout out in the comments section below!
Air Jordan 5
Icy outsole, ‘fire’ detail on the midfoot, 3M tongue, translucent mesh, what’s NOT to love about the Air Jordan 5?! The fifth incarnation of His Airness’ signature sneaker was a major departure from the previous models, yet is still an undeniable staple among kick collectors. Not to mention the latest series of 3Lab5 models have brought even more popularity to the already iconic shoes. There is just something magnetic about a good pair of denim and a pair of 5s.
adidas Superstar 80s
The Kings of Rock sent the adidas Superstar into orbit and it’s popularity hasn’t returned to Earth yet. There is just something about that rubber shell toe that will never go out of style. White-on-black, black-on-white, white-on-red, the color combos are endless and the silhouette is flawless. And if all those reasons aren’t enough, you can usually find pairs for under $100. Buy ’em all!
Reebok Question Mid
A.I., The Answer, Bubba Chuck, Number 3. Allen Iverson set the NBA and the sneaker world on fire in 1996 as Reebok debuted his much anticipated Question Mid. The visible Hexalite air cushion, pearlized toe cap, and “Q” logo still gives sneakerheads of that era chills upon sight. They are a bit chunky, but incredibly comfortable. To this day, we’re not sure that a rookie has had a signature shoe with this kind of hype. Owning a pair of these is adding a little historical validity to any sneaker collection.
New Balance 574
The ubiquitous New Balance 574 is an entry-level running sneaker, but don’t sleep, it’s design and comfort level are anything but run-of-the-mill. A vast majority of these kicks are built of a nice suede and fitted with ENCAP technology for a soft and stable ride. With so many color choices available, we’re sure you can find at least one that is worth adding to your sneaker stockpile.
Nike Air Force 1
Next to the Air Jordan, the Air Force One might be the most iconic Nike sneaker to ever don the Swoosh. While we’ve seen a multitude of colorways, designs and hybrid incarnations over the years, nothing can replace the monochromatic white-on-white. The clean and casual silhouette is ready for just about any and every situation.
Air Jordan 3
We realize that there are a litany of Jordan models that one might consider “iconic,” but in our humble opinion none even come close to comparing to the legacy of the Jordan 3. Aside from the nostalgic fact that MJ was rocking them when he won the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest, their design was unlike anything we’d ever seen. The elephant print, the “Jumpman” logo on the tongue and the visible air bubble were all firsts for the signature sneaker. Any sneakerhead worth his or her laces HAS to have a pair on deck as a fashion staple.
adidas Top Ten Hi
Although NBA superstars of today like Derrick Rose and Damian Lillard rock the three stripes on the court, many people don’t necessarily associate adidas classics with basketball. However, the adidas Top Ten continues to be a shining beacon from the past that we love dearly. Small details like the scruffy nubuck toe and the color-blocked ankle cushion make these kicks timeless. Grab yourself a pair and step into 1979.
Saucony Grid 9000
The Saucony Grid 9000 is one of the most well-rounded and slept on running shoes currently on the market. Sure, Nike, New Balance and Asics might be more visible, but Saucony has created a shoe that matches, and often times, surpasses it’s peers. The technical aspect of the Grid 9000 is met eye-to-eye by beauty of the materials used in it’s construction. An A-1 sneaker all the way around the board. Slide your feet into a pair and catch the wave.
Asics Gel Lyte III
Running is Asics’ business, and when it comes to the Gel Lyte 3, they are running away with the popularity baton thanks to some great inline colorways and some super premium upgrades from designers like Ronnie Fieg. The unique split-tongue runner is a must have during warm summer months.
Nike Air Max 90
Nike’s history with runners is long and storied. Despite the advance in technology over the years, their inaugural foray into the “Air Max” era proved to be one of their most popular. The Air Max 90 brought together a great combination of materials (leather, suede, and mesh) to build a sleek silhouette to make way for numerous outstanding colorways. While the “Infrared” color scheme is arguably the most sought after, Nike has released so many amazing iterations of the AM90 that you’d really be hard pressed not to have a pair in the collection at this point.
Air Jordan I
The Air Jordan 1 brings together an 80s aesthetic, casual appeal and a sporty style that has made it a go-to for the hip-hop community, hipsters and hypebeasts alike. In either the “BRED” or “Royal” colorways, there is almost no outfit that these kicks don’t compliment well. Designer Peter Moore hit a home run that is still traveling when he crafted these bad boys.
Nike Flyknit Chukka
We have to imagine that if it were possible to walk on air it would be an experience similar to walking in a pair of Nike Flyknit Chukkas. Are we dreaming that the Lunarlon midsoles are made of cumulus clouds?! Nike laced the one-piece woven upper with a myriad of amazing marbled colors that are unlike anything pounding the pavement. Comfort, style, unique design; can’t really ask for much more out of your kicks.
Reebok Workout Low
Despite their long history, southern hip-hop has helped propel the Reebok Classic Workout Low into street stardom by dubbing them “Soulja Rees.” The buttery soft aerobic kicks were seen stomping in practically every hood below the Mason-Dixon line in the late 90s. The smooth long-nosed sneakers are as classy a shoe as you will find. Having a crispy pair on deck will do your collection good.
New Balance 1300
The New Balance 1300 is basically an upgraded version of the 574 combined with the sleek design of the 998. If you’re a fan of the simplicity of the 574 and the premium materials of the 998, then this is the shoe for you.
adidas Stan Smith
The adidas Stan Smith silo is straightforward, but sometimes that’s all you really want. A nice, clean, low cut sneaker that is ready to roll at the drop of a dime. A lot of times footwear fanatics make a painstaking effort building their daily outfits from the ground up. That isn’t to say that the Stan Smith can’t hold it’s own as the star of the show, but regardless of what else you decide to wear, you’re always good to go with a pair of Stans.
Nike Air Max 95
The gradient fade on the Nike Air Max 95 has become one of the most iconic features on any Nike shoe ever created. The descending panels that adorn the upper of this popular Nike runner have been used to highlight many variations of colors that create a one-of-a-kind look that sneakerheads have found exhilarating for almost 20 years.
Nike Roshe Run
Even the most contrarian sneakerhead has to acknowledge the sheer and utter greatness of the Nike Roshe Run. Sure, if you trek to SoHo you’ll see a parade of skinny-jeaned hipsters rockin’ the waffle-soled runner. But trendy aesthetic notwithstanding, the reason so many people have taken to the Roshe Run is because it’s one of the most comfortable shoes your feet will ever have the pleasure of riding. A fantastic voyage. Word to Coolio.
Reebok Pump Omni Lite
The “Dee Browns,” as they are known colloquially, reign supreme as the most storied pair of Reeboks in the brand’s long line of basketball sneakers. The Pump Omni Lite, as they are known professionally, represent everything good about ’90s hoops as they were worn by the Boston Celtics vertically challenged guard Dee Brown who went on to win the Slam Dunk Contest in 1991. No fancy color combos, just a black sneaker, with white accents, and an orange basketball ‘Pump.’ Gangsta.
The Nike Cortez should be pictured in the dictionary next to “old school.” These kicks literally define the phrase in name alone. There are plenty of leather versions available to cop, but we suggest finding a suede or nylon pair. Just drives home the vintage feel.
Following the lead of the Top Ten, the adidas Forum added a technical aspect to the three stripes brand of basketball sneaks. While the silhouette is similar, and this may sound trivial, but the addition of the velcro adds a lil’ something something that gives the Forum an undeniable swagger. Plus, they come in lo, mid and high-top form.
One of the most basic model sneakers on the market has been a longstanding cornerstone of the Puma brand. The casual low-cut kicks come in an array of colors, are built with a beautiful suede (as the name suggests), and wear well with just about everything you have in your closet. Unless you live in a place like Seattle where rain is imminent, there is absolutely no reason not to own a pair.
When it comes to vintage style sneakers, you’ll be hard pressed to find one more comfortable and stylish than the Nike Blazer. One of the best features of the Blazer is that they feel broken in from the time you first slip them on. If you’ve never had a pair, we suggest copping immediately. Thank us later.
Air Jordan 4
The Air Jordan 4 is the godfather of several Nike shoes with a midsole design that can be seen in various forms on many sneakers that were released during that time. The fourth edition of MJ’s signature shoe almost appears to be a more advanced version of the Air Jordan 3. Again, perfect for hooping or street wear, and certain colorways like the ‘Cement’ iterations pair quite nicely with button-up shirts.
In any style, the Nike Dunk is undoubtedly one the brand’s most popular lines. The low SB version has seen an assortment of amazing themes that are the stuff of sneakerhead lore. The high model basketball version has been released in almost every combination of colors in a Crayola box. Doesn’t matter if you’re wearing shorts, jeans, camo pants, khakis, a pair of Dunks complete your cipher with style.
Nike Air Huarache
Huarache Jesus has finally decided that America is worthy of being bestowed one of his most benevolent blessings. This technical innovation of the ’90s was so far ahead of it’s time that even as a re-release more than 20 years later it STILL looks futuristic among today’s latest and greatest. The neoprene bootie hugs you tighter than Wiz Khalifa’s jeans. A must cop. On Sight.
Air Jordan 11
The use of patent leather on the Air Jordan 11 changed the sneaker game forever, for better or worse. There just aren’t many sneakers, much less basketball sneakers, that are built to wear such a bold design, but the Jordan 11 flourishes under the slick material. We’ve seen these spiffy sneaks worn on the parquet, on the street, and even weddings! Apparently, this is one shoe that can do no wrong, regardless of the setting. Dress code be damned.
Nike Flyknit Trainer
The Air Yeezy series isn’t the only Nike sneaker that Kanye West helped popularize. After he was spotted in London with Kim Kardashian in a pair of these lightweight kicks, the beastly feeding frenzy was on. But in all fairness to the folks at Nike who worked hard to craft these kicks, there are very few shoes that bring together performance and style this well.
adidas ZX 8000
The adidas ZX 8000 is quite simply one of the greatest sneakers to wear the stripes. This technically sound runner comes in a myriad of colors and significantly reduces your chances of twisting an ankle while chasing after that cute chick you saw in the mall. Instant coppage.
Converse Chuck Taylor
Among the many models of iconic footwear, none can hold a torch to the Chuck Taylor. No bells. No whistles. The canvas upper, a rubber toe cap, and a striped midsole have essentially ruled the sneaker world for almost a century since their debut in 1917. These are perhaps the only shoes that most sneakerheads would agree look BETTER with a little wear and tear on them. Whether you favor the high or the low-top version, the fact remains, nothing can substitute for a Chuck Taylor.
Nike Air Max 1
What’s higher than #1? Not a damn thing. The shoe that started it all. The Nike Air Max 1 is quietly another notch under Nike/Jordan designer Tinker Hatfield’s legendary belt. The sleek runner not only was the first sneaker with a visible air cushion, but also one of the first Nike’s to be retro’ed. Classy, comfy, colorful. Worth every penny.