The 25 Essential Sneakers Of The 2000s


The 2000s are often slept on with all the heat that dropped in the 90s and post-2010, but there were definitely more than a few kicks that were must haves. You know you had the AF1s on lock and were probably thirsting over a bunch of the Nike SB drops just to name a couple. From iconic joints that never went away to some new technology and styles, here are 25 Essential Sneakers you had or wish you had in your rotation during the 2000 decade.

Feature Credit: Brandon Edler (@MrBrando3)

Nike Hyperdunk

New basketball models were kinda meh for a minute in the 2000s and then Nike introduced the Hyperdunk in the summer of ’08 and woke everyone up again. Team USA won gold in the kicks and they became a staple for hoopers on and off the court.

A Bathing Ape Bapestas

Whether Nigo borrowed the AF1 blueprint or not, your style game was nothing if you didn’t have you some Bathing Apes.

adidas T-Mac

Young bloods might not know this, but in the early 2000s, adidas Basketball was running this sneaker shit. Jordan just wasn’t Jordan every night and players like Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady were the new wave of high-flying scorers. Kobe was the bigger star but T-Mac had the better signature line. The one blue and one red shoe during the NBA All-Star Game is still an iconic sneaker moment. Even young LeBron wore T-Mac PEs during his high school run at SVSM and the brand nearly inked him to a deal.

Nike Air Force 1

Born in ’82 but in 2002 it went to another level. The St. Lunatics started the millennium off right with their Uptowns anthem. Crispy white-on-whites were always the move and honestly two pairs was never really enough. Every day people could rock them and look fly, while your favorite entertainers and athletes had the custom Louis Vuitton print joints and 500 other pairs so they could stunt on MTV Cribs.

Creative Recreation Cesario Lo

Yeah, you might not be overly proud of it now, but Creative Recs were the move for a minute in the 2000s. They were affordable, fairly stylish, and easy to grab. Even Kanye rocked them during his College Dropout days.

A Bathing Ape x adidas Super Ape Star

Iconic Bape camo in a classic sneaker executed perfectly. People don’t give The Three Stripes enough credit for its fashion forward vision.

Air Jordan I "Patent Leather"

You would probably cringe if they dropped today but in ’03, even without the retro craze, the patent leather Jordan Is were considered heat thanks to the XI influence.

Nike LeBron Air Max VII

LeBron hasn’t had too many misses with his signature line but the VIIs might be the most iconic joints in the 2000s after the Zoom Generations. The Swoosh switched the flow up and went Air Max instead of Zoom Air and gave LeBron a banger in terms of style and performance.

Air Jordan Retro IV "Rare Air"

The laser-etched Js were fire when they released in 2005 and they were a staple in Cudi’s rotation during his first tour after Man on the Moon dropped. Jordan Brand has come back heavy with the laser line, but it will never carry the same kind of weight it did during it’s first wave of releases.

Nike Half Cent

Historically hybrids are usually trash but when Nike decided to honor Penny’s legacy, they came correct. They even brought back Lil’ Penny for a few cameos, helping the nostalgia pull in kids from the ’90s to make them must-haves.

Nike SB Dunk Low Pro "True Reds"

Sorry Yeezus Stans, brands been going hard with the red kicks way before the Red Octobers. Essentials aren’t always easy to get, since you likely couldn’t your hands on a pair of these – but you never took them off if you did.

Nike Air Zoom Generation

King James’ first sneaker was perfect. Inspired by the infamous Hummer he cruised the streets of Akron in before he was ever drafted, the design was ill and the colorways were on point. There have even been rumors about some of his early kicks making its way back before he retires. We’ll gladly scoop of a few pairs of these and the wheat joints he wore in the Rookie Game.

Supreme NYC x Nike Dunk SB High "Stars"

A year after the SB Dunk Low collab, people caught on quick to the magic Supreme and Nike SB were cooking up and the shoes caused mass hysteria.

Osiris D3

Dave Mayhew’s signature shoe went against the slim and simple skate trend and brought on one of the bulkiest kicks for your board.

Air Jordan Spiz'ike

Retro Jordans struggled for most of the decade as you could cop Grape Vs and other pairs for well under retail during the period. So Jordan Brand decided to merge the greatest features from Mike’s illest kicks and birth a new line that pushed some decent units.

Supra Skytop

In the late 2000s, the higher the cut the better, and Supra came out the gate with some heat that made the brand a staple for the skater movement taking over.

Nike Air Yeezy

This shoe might be the very reason you’re on this site now. Sneaker culture has always been alive but Kanye’s futuristic design and glow in the dark soles took it to a whole other level.

Supreme x Nike SB Blazer

Another one you might not have been in the know about in ’06 or been able to cop, but essentials for anyone who had them. Almost 10 years later, these still shit on anything in your rotation.

Staple x Nike Dunk SB Low Pro "Pigeon"

For the past few years we keep seeing the craziness behind Jordan XI releases but in ’05 there was a scene unlike anything else when Jeff Staple dropped his SB collab. The line was so chaotic it made the NY Post when most people had no idea the shoe even existed. If you had them, you might not have worn anything else that year – absolutely necessary to stunt in.

UNDFTD x Air Jordan IV

Only 72 pairs were made (cringes) but if you had to pick one essential Jordan for the collection, these were probably it. If only you could get your hands on them…

Supreme x Nike Dunk SB Low

The greatest Nike SB of all time? Don’t embarrass yourself. Even 13 years later these are essentials for anyone serious about shoes. If you you could only rock one shoe period, these or Jordan IIIs might be it.

New Balance 574

The classics are the classics for a reason and these have always been must-haves for any collection in any decade.

Reebok S. Carter

Hov was on his takeover and the Reebok deal was major. The Gucci Tennis inspired kicks were under-appreciated classics and the mixtape that came along with them was hotter than most rappers best albums.

Nike Dunk SB Low Pro "Tiffany"

The jewelry might be associated to basic girls rocking the heart-tag bracelets, but the kicks were a statement that your go-to shoes were lit.

Nike Air Max 95 "Neon"

Another classic from Nike that never went out of style. Sneaker addicts still go crazy over these every time they release even after 20 years.


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