The Air Max 1 wasn’t the first shoe to use Nike’s technologically advanced air cushioning system. That honour falls to trailblazers like the Tailwind, the almighty Air Force 1 and 1982’s Air Ace.
However, 1987’s Air Max 1 was the first to bare its innards to all with its ‘visible air’ window. Despite the technology, they still manage to look ultra-cool even to this day.
Whether you know them by another name (trainers, kicks, runners, daps, or in my case, ‘my babies’), there’s no denying that sneakers’ appeal goes way beyond functional footwear. The logo design, colourway, style and even packaging design all play a part, but there is still an indefinable quality that marks out your favourites.
Historically, sneakers have been a mark of our tribe, a product of our time, an outward reflection of context and culture. Countless sneakers have become indisputable design icons, up there with the design classics of any age.
Whether you’re an indie gal married to your lo-fi canvas Chuckie Ts; a lanky hoop-scoring ‘boss’ who wouldn’t be seen dead in anything but hi-tech fat Air Jordans; or a modern-day casual for whom vintage Adidas Trimm Trabs are everything, you’ve got to admit that there are some sneaker designs that are so classic, so iconic, so damn influential that they deserve a place on any classic design list, whatever your tastes.
So with all that said, agonisingly wrestled down from a long, long list of favourites, here’s my take on the 20 best sneaker designs ever – and note, these are not in order!