Sport

11 of the most iconic sneakers of all time

Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT) March 31, 2017
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The shoes that are so popular, many of its younger generation of wearers don't know they're named after a former world no. 1 tennis player. Stan Smith won the US Open in 1971 and Wimbledon in 1972, but he's perhaps best known for his endorsement of the Adidas classic that became a fashion staple in 2015.
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According to his biographer Abe Aamidor, Chuck Taylor was an Indiana-born college basketball player who began playing for a Converse-sponsored team -- the All-Stars. Touring US colleges as a brand representative, Taylor became so influential that in 1932, the brand named a pair after him. "Chucks" were the first in a very long line of celebrity shoe endorsements and became one of the best selling basketball shoes of all time. Converse
Onitsuka Tiger was founded by Japanese military general Kihachiro Onitsuka after World War II in a bid to boost the morale of youth through athletics. The company worked with marathon runners in the 1950s to produce some of the first professional running shoes before targeting the US market. Two years before the 1968 Mexico Olympics the brand introduced the famous ASICS stripe logo on the Limber leather, which later became the Mexico '66. Onitsuka Tiger
Designed by US Olympic track coach Bill Bowerman, the Nike Cortez was marketed as the first modern track shoe and released before the 1972 Munich Olympics. The sneaker earned legendary status as an early long-distance running shoe, cemented in the 1994 film Forrest Gump when Jenny's gift of a pair of Nike Cortez helped Forrest run across America. Nike
The PUMA Clyde was created in 1973, when Knicks basketball player Walt "Clyde" Frazier apparently asked the brand for a custom pair of PUMA Suede. The shoes has since been released in a myriad of colorways, prints and fabrics, paying homage to Clyde's notoriously flamboyant style. Puma
Gucci became the first luxury designer brand to produce sneakers in 1984. It's first classic tennis shoe, made of Italian white leather with the brand's signature red and green stripes, led many ateliers to follow suit, eventually sparking more daring iterations such as this silver sneaker with gold embroidered bee. Net A Porter
In 1984 Nike signed a five year deal with then Chicago Bulls rookie Michael Jordan, including his promotion of a brand new red and black basketball high top -- the Air Jordan. The fact that the NBA initially banned the shoes for not being majority white only lent to their cachet, and the Air Jordan propelled the growth of sneaker culture among US basketball-loving youth. Nike
Just as iconic is the Superstar, heralded in Run DMC's 1986 hit "My Adidas." The subsequent deal between the two was the first endorsement deal between a hip hop artist and a sports brand, a mantel carried forward by the likes of Wu Tang Clan (Nike,) Pharrell (Adidas,) Jay Z (Reebok) and many others. Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images
As basketball and hip hop fueled sneaker culture in the US, in the UK it was a fashion game between football fans. Jockey Wyatt was one of "The Casuals" in the 1980s and now owns Transalpino, a leading UK "deadstock" store. "If you had to picked one trainer that would encapsulate the landmark of trainers becoming an object of fashion rather than a sporting necessity, it would be this." Wyatt said the Trimm Trab became "the terrace shoe of a generation" in the 1980s.
Transalpino
Introduced in 1987 with their characteristic sole air bubbles, the Nike Air Max' were marketed as a revolutionary new step in air cushioning. They were designed by Tinker Hatfield, a trained architect who applied his studies of building design to shoes. Hatfield said that the exposed pipework of Paris' Centre Pompidou inspired him to create the visible window in the hit shoe. Nike
Launched in 1989 in a bid to rival Nike Air Max, Reebok's Pump was a sneaker game changer -- the first shoe with an inflation chamber in the tongue that pumped up to provide a custom-fit around the ankle. When Boston Celtic's Dee Brown bent down to inflate his Pumps before netting a reverse dunk in the 1991 Slam Dunk Competition, the shoes became a cult classic, which have spawned many iterations since.