We continue our trip down memory lane honouring the most iconic sneaker models from the 90s, a legendary time where some truly special releases hit the shelves and our hearts.
More Iconic Sneaker Models of the 90s
11. Nike Air Max 90
Considered one of the most iconic silhouettes ever created, the Air Max 90 is known for its bold design ‘made to look fast’ and is the most successful Air Max sneaker in Nike history. Designer Tinker Hatfield took inspiration from previous Air Max designs, accentuating the Air Unit in the heel in colorways such as the 'Infrared' with a bold window, making it impossible to miss.
12. New Balance 998
Debuting in 1993, the New Balance 998 is a retro running sneaker that's popular for its "Dad Shoe" aesthetic. Known for its Abzorb midsole, high-vis reflective material, and layered upper, the model gives provides ultimate comfort both on the track and in day-to-day life.
13. New Balance 574
Originally released in 1988, the New Balance 574 was the brand's first foray into the lifestyle sneaker market, applying cost-cutting measures to the model such as changing the materials, reducing performance, and simplifying tech. The more affordable 574 quickly gained momentum, the suede upper and mesh paneling providing more than enough comfort for everyday wear. A true all-round classic, and a favourite for numerous collaborations over the years, the 574 is one of New Balance's most popular models of all time.
14. Nike Air Max 95
Massively hyped in Japan after it first released in the mid-90s, the Nike Air Max 95 also saw huge success around the rest of the world as sneakerheads admired its unique design and athletes praised its responsive performance.
Designer Sergio Lozano based the unique design on human anatomy, with the lacing system of the shoe resembling a set of ribs, a spine-inspired outsole and use of mesh on the upper to look like muscle fibres. The model was the first in the Air Max line to utilise air cushions in the forefoot, and it also featured a minimized Swoosh on the rear of the sneaker. A first-of-its-kind black outsole was also introduced on the model.
15. Nike Air Max 97
As hinted at from its name, the Nike Air Max 97 was first released in 1997. Commonly thought to take after the Japanese bullet train, the AM97 was the first shoe from Nike that introduced full-length air, and also a hidden lacing system. The model's original 'Metallic Silver' colorway was inspired by designer Christian Tresser's interest in mountain biking.
While it never quite gained the popularity of its predecessor, the AM95, the sneaker enjoyed immediate attention in Italy, adopted by DJ and other creative subcultures as a lifestyle sneaker.
16. Air Jordan XI
Legendary designer Tinker Hatfield created the Air Jordan 11 in 1995, combining immaculate technology and design into a sneaker model that became a hit on both the court and the street. Its mesh upper provided more durability than the average sneaker, and the patent leather gave the model structure while still providing the necessary lightness. Conveniently, the mix of smooth lines and wavy leather on the simple silhouette made it perfect for dressing up or down.
Dropped at the same time that Michael Jordan announced he would be returning to the NBA, the basketball star went on to wear the sneaker in a 'Concord' colorway throughout his 1995-96 season, making the model a symbol of MJ's return to NBA stardom and becoming immortalised in sporting history.
17. Vans Half Cab
The Vans Half Cab was born in 1992, three years after the original Caballero model was introduced from skateboarding legend Steve Caballero in collaboration with Vans. Skaters quickly adopted the Caballero for its grippy sole, comfort and style, but Steve realised that the skaters were cutting down the high-top model to adapt it to the streets, hence the official appearance of the Half Cab. Constructed from a pig suede upper, molded heel counter and locked-in tongue straps, the model is flexible and provides maximum durability where skaters need it most.
Even now, the Half Cab is still recognised as one of the must trusted sneakers in skateboarding.
18. Puma Disc
In 1991, PUMA launched the DISC System, which was the first laceless sports shoe with a system of internal wires that tightened the upper for a perfect fit. It worked perfectly in tandom with PUMA's existing cushioning technology, and its incredible structure and performance metrics meant it was quickly rolled out across all categories of the brand. More than 30 years later, the Puma DISC is still celebrated as a revolutionary game-changer.
19. Reebok Classic Leather
The clean silhouette of the Reebok Classic Leather was originally introduced in 1983, where it gradually evolved from a running shoe into a pop culture favourite during the 90s. Its simple leather upper defined its look and set it apart from the pack, establishing it as an early streetwear and hip-hop must-have in the UK in particular. The crisp white leather means this sneaker will always be a classic for the style-conscious.
20. Converse One Star
The Converse One Star was actually first released as a basketball sneaker in 1974, but the model was re-issued in 1993 after its popularly soared as vintage collectors went through a craze of finding the footwear between the 80s and 90s, especially in Japan, and skaters and people in the grunge scene started adopting it. Kurt Cobain was often seen wearing the One Star, helping establish the silhouette with as a symbol of rebellion and youth.
Named after the single star emblazoned in its flank, the One Star remains a hugely popular model today, receiving a third run across shelves in 2017 with a new vulcanized rubber sole.
Check out the first part of The Most Iconic Sneaker Models of the 90s here!