Not all beloved or high-priced kicks are well received upon initial reveal and we highlight 15 such sneakers that weren’t so popular when heads first saw them.
Asics Gel Lyte III
While we’re not going to single out just one collab or colorway, you already know designers and sneaker shops such as Ronnie Fieg/KITH, Patta and Solebox (amongst others) have played an integral part in today’s perception of the GL3. But prior to 2007, nobody really cared about the model and a lot of people might not know that Asics introduced the Gel Lyte III all the way back in 1990. And while it was initially popular amongst fans of runners (and, you know, actual runners), by 1992, it was surpassed by the Gel Lyte Ultra and largely forgotten about. Now, we’re not going to say the GL3 was hated on per se. But, after a brief retro in the mid-2000s, the aforementioned designers got ahold of it and a lot of sneakerheads took notice. Just try getting your hands on a Gel Lyte III collab nowadays. Heck, even the GRs sell out nowadays if the colorway is right!
Nike Air Foamposite One/Pro
When the Nike Air Foamposite One dropped back in 1997, the world wasn’t ready. Not only did the futuristic look throw a lot of folks off, but the price tag was an astronomical-at-the-time $180. The shoes did still sell well. But the reception was not nearly what we see nowadays when Nike drops a hot new colorway on the silo. Just look at this last All-Star weekend, or the Paranormans, or the Galaxys…we could go on and on. Shoezeum founder Jordan Geller recently shared an interesting thought on Foams on Twitter. He posited that he believes Nike is testing the market value of the sneaker by slowly increasing the price (perhaps more frequently than any other shoe). And since Nike hit us with that $275 price tag for the “Chromeposite” and they sold out instantly, he predicts that the next super-limited Foamposite colorway will retail for $300. Damn. Sneaker economics. See kids, that’s supply and demand!
Reebok Answer 1
Look, it’s not as if the Reebok Answer was universally hated when it debuted back in 1997. We certainly remember owning a few pairs back in the day. But, when you’re following up arguably the best basketball signature a brand like Reebok has ever produced (the Question), there’s a lot of hype to live up to. We’re not sure what it was, but the Answer was a pretty big departure from Iverson’s first shoe. Flashy patent leather, a dramatically lower cut with a hidden lacing system and a brand spanking new DMX cushioning technology meant AI fans were met with a sneaker that looked nothing like it’s predecessor. Fast-forward to 2015s fickle sneaker market and, while it might not be an instant sell-out like so many Nike retros, the Reebok Answer 1 is looked back on with a lot of love amongst sneakerheads of a certain age.
Air Jordan XIII Low "Chutney"
If you’ve been reading our features for a while, you already know we’ve been clamoring for some deeper diving into the retro vaults for low-top Jordan silos. Air Jordan XI Lows are nice and all, but we’ve been wanting to get some VI, XIII or XIV Lows for years now. And apparently, we’re not the only ones. Not only have rumors swirled about all three models being on future release calendars, but the XIII Lows are one of the most frequently requested retros out there nowadays. Which is funny because back when the silo originally dropped in 1998, they didn’t just sit, they got pushed to the sale racks. It’s crazy how the game changes, because now, XIII Lows often resell for $350.
Air Jordan III "Mocha"
Please join us on our soapbox as we scream into the internet ether yet again about wanting Jordan Brand to retro the “Mocha” Jordan III. Look, we get that the 2001 original didn’t sell well at all. See, back then, the “Mochas” were the first non-OG colorway of the beloved Air Jordan III to hit retail and things did not go well. But, as we’ve pointed out, things are different in 2015 and the Mocha 3s are pushing $500 on the resale market according to our friends at Campless. We know that JB put the III back in the vault for a while, but we wouldn’t be mad at a crispy pair of Mochas sooner than later.
Supreme x Nike SB 94
Supreme collaboration with Nike on the SB 94 in 2010 was an interesting release. Normally known for their massively-hyped and wildly-colored collabs, people were a bit let down when this quartet of kicks hit retail. And while they weren’t exactly hated on, in very un-Supreme-like fashion, they didn’t sell out right away (GASP!). But, perhaps it was the second set of stronger colorways (those ‘Wheats’ were fire), or just good old fashioned hindsight, but we actually love these nowadays.
Air Jordan I "Royal" (2001 Retro)
It’s crazy to think that a shoe like the “Royal” Air Jordan I, one of today’s most popular Jordan sneakers would sit on shelves like they did back in 2001. But not only did they sit, they hit outlets and clearance racks all over the country. Sometimes for as low as (brace yourself) forty bucks! And, for a product that nowadays commands a four-figure resale price, that’s a nearly unthinkable price fluctuation. Amazing.
Air Jordan XVI "Ginger"
As our friends over at Complex perfectly called it, the “Ginger” XVIs are like the nerdy girl in school you always overlooked, but that turns into a stunner years later. See, it used to be that the non-traditional Jordan colorways just sat at retail. You could walk into virtually any store, in any mall across America, and just buy them. You could even try them on first! We know, weird right? But nowadays, with the success of other wheat-related sneakers, the “Ginger” XVIs are one of the most in-demand, as-yet-unretroed Js out there. Funny how that works.
Air Jordan IX "Olive"
We’re not shy about our love for the “Olive” Air Jordan IX around these parts. We’ve frequently dubbed it our favorite IX colorway. But, the sentiment was clearly not the same for many others when the sneaker hit the market in the past…both times, actually. Originally dropping in 1993 and then retro’ing in 2002, they sat on shelves and clearance racks everywhere. But, in today’s sneaker market, they are remembered fondly simply for being different. This is another one we’d love to see come back to market in remastered form. JB, if you’re listening: the time is right!
adidas x Jeremy Scott Wings
Come on, admit it. The first time you saw a pair of Jeremy Scott x adidas Wings you laughed, right? We certainly did. But, as different colorways and materials dropped, and you started seeing them worn more and more, the perception of the sneaker started to warm up a bit. Then, in 2013, when adidas and JS teamed up with A$AP Rocky to drop a murdered out version of the Wings 2.0, sneakerheads were ready and the kicks sold out with the quickness. Now they’re fetching nearly $400 on the resale market. Who’s laughing now?
Air Jordan I "Patent" Series
Another set of kicks that have had perceptions change pretty drastically on them are 2003s Air Jordan I “Patent Leather” series. Aside from the die-hard AJI fans out there, most just shrugged off these releases. Heck, like Sole Collector pointed out, we have fond memories of kids just wanting to steal the metal Jordan keychain that came with them! But, looking at the resale market on these in 2015? The hate and/or disdain has died down dramatically.
Li-Ning Way of Wade
When Dwyane Wade jumped from Jordan Brand to the Chinese label Li-Ning, everyone laughed. That was supposed to be like the sneaker equivalent of going from a Mercedes to a Kia! Nevertheless, fast-forward to 2015, and Wade’s signature Li-Ning Way of Wade silo is killing it – particularly the recent Way of Wade 2 model. Whether it be the hype, the performance, the tremendous colorways or some amalgam of the three, the WoW has been moving units. Who would’ve thought?
Air Jordan 3Lab5 'Cement Elephant'
When we first saw the all-elephant-print-everything Air Jordan 3Lab5, all we could think was “there’s no way those are real Jordans – those have got to be bootlegs.” But, here we are. Not only are the 3Lab5s an official Jordan colorway, they’ve also, somehow avoided being labeled with the dubious “hybrid” tag in the sneaker world. Look, one of the reasons we love Jordan Brand, is that they’re not afraid to take risks with their bold designs. But these, we thought, were a release that would undoubtedly sit on the shelves. Oh boy were we wrong. Apparently, opinions on the 3Lab5 shifted because, not only did they sell out, their resale price has consistently hovered around four bills. Crazy.
Supreme x Nike Air Foamposite One
This is another colorway that, when we first saw the leaks, we thought that it couldn’t be real. We thought it looked like something you’d buy from some shady dude on a corner of Canal Street. But, sure enough, not only did it turn out to be an official Nike colorway, but it was a Supreme collaboration…and there were TWO of them! And of course, as so many Supreme collabs do, they sold out so fast they practically had people filing complaints with Time Warner about their internet speeds. Ahhh, the power of the hype is strong with this one.
Nike LeBron 11 "2K14"
One of the most talked-about sneakers of 2014, was undoubtedly the Nike LeBron 11 “2k14.” Grinding away at the latest 2K game unlocked a purchase code, allowing the user to buy one pair of a mystery LeBron XI colorway. Funny thing was that most people had no idea what the shoe even looked like. When it was revealed that the 2k14 colorway was the gold and leopard print-clad beast you see above, the blogs were on fire with the hate. However, once shoes started to actually arrive in the hands of those who purchased, folks got mighty quiet. Now, we’ll be honest: we’ve still not warmed up to these XIs. But apparently, other sneakerheads haven’t felt the same way, because they’ve got a resale value of well over $700. We will say one thing; that was a fantastic marketing experiment.
BONUS: Air Jordan 11
What?! The Air Jordan 11…are you crazy?!? It turns out that when Jordan Brand first produced samples of the 11 and then showed the model to product focus groups to gauge their reaction, the overwhelming response came back negative and people didn’t like it. Just watch the awesome clip below between TheShoeGame.com and Gentry Humphrey (former Jordan Brand General Manager) for all the insider details: