In an era where the hype surrounding a sneaker can often elevate its value more than the style and comfort of the actual shoe, the term sneakerhead has lost some of its meaning. Before everyone was lining up for the latest pair of ultra-hyped collaborative sneakers, there were a handful of classic sneakers that everyone considered essential to their collection.

Possessing an understanding of the stories and historical anecdotes behind these fundamental styles is part and parcel of the game. That knowledge can result in a greater appreciation for how sneaker culture has evolved over the last few decades, as well as the product itself. We’re not saying you need to be able to rattle off Michael Jordan’s stat line in any of his title-winning seasons to wear Jordans, but it’s probably a good idea to familiarize yourself with why the man, his legend, and the sneakers he wore have had such an impact on our community.

On that note, we’ve put together a Highsnobiety-approved list of ten classic sneakers you should own if you want to call yourself a sneakerhead.

Shop the best classic sneakers for every wardrobe below.

Nike Air Force 1

Air Force 1 '07

Air Force 1 '07

$115

Nike

Buy at ssense

How many sneakers have their own (good) anthem? There’s something about the Air Force 1's crisp minimalism that speaks to so many people. Though there are unlimited choices, the OG white-on-white is the best and most versatile colorway. The orange hits on the pair above add just enough twist to the classic. Wear these on the beach, with a 3-piece suit or with some jeans. It is truly one of the greatest sneakers of all time, *Kanye voice.*

New Balance M990NB3

Made in USA 990v3

Made in USA 990v3

$228

New Balance

Buy at Matchesfashion

The New Balance 990 is one of the most recognized sneaker ranges in the world. After starting out as a high-performance shoe, the classic sneaker found a home among normcore enthusiasts and sneakerheads more recently. The shoe features a mix of dark mesh and suede across its body and a nice chunky ENCAP sole for those of you still riding the dad sneaker wave.

adidas Originals Stan Smith

Stan Smith

Stan Smith

$95

adidas Originals

Buy at adidas US

Named after the tennis legend, the adidas Stan Smith has evolved into one of the most beloved shoes in sneaker history. The simplicity of the design has played a major role in the sneaker's sustained longevity. New releases, partnerships, and redesigns have added exciting refreshes to the ever-growing Stan Smith family. Though there are a handful of collaborations worthy of "classic status", it really doesn't get better than the OG. That leather white body with hints of green is future-proof, ensuring that you can wear these sneakers today, in two years, or in twenty years from now.

ASICS Gel-1130

UB2-S GEL-1130

UB2-S GEL-1130

$77

ASICS

Buy at Luisaviaroma

ASICS has been making utilitarian running shoes since it started life in 1977. But while ASICS hasn't changed its direction, contemporary style has only recently started to really take notice. If you're looking for an unimposing way to introduce peak normcore into your rotation, the ASICS GEL-1130 should be where you start. Wildly comfortable, supportive, and versatile beyond belief, it's the kind of sneaker that will take over your life. Plus, with the help of Kiko Kostadinov, classic ASICS silhouettes like this are more stylish than they've ever been.

Converse Chuck 70

Chuck 70 High-Top Sneakers

Chuck 70 High-Top Sneakers

$85

Converse

Buy at Mr Porter

The Converse Chuck Taylor is arguably one of the most influential sneakers in history. You'll be hard-pressed to find someone who has not wanted or owned a pair of these basketball shoes at some point in their lifetime. Since 1917, the Chuck Taylor has been a fixture in pop culture, making waves across genres and fashion fits. In the early 2010s, Converse decided to refresh their iconic shoe, blessing us with the equally beloved Chuck 70.

The 70 features a beefed-up build and vintage aesthetic that pay tribute to earlier All-Stars. The sneaker uses a heftier and more luxurious 12oz canvas across its body. The shoe is more comfortable than its older brother, thanks to much-needed additional padding and stitching. The Chuck 70s have quickly become the "go-to" sneaker for fans of the silhouette, attracting a wave of collaborators like Virgil Abloh, Tyler the Creator, JW Anderson, and Rei Kawakubo.

Reebok Club C 85

Club C 85 Vintage Sneakers

Club C 85 Vintage Sneakers

$80

Reebok

Buy at Urban Outfitters

The Club C 85 is another classic shoe with tennis origins, dominating the shoe market in the '80s. The shoe's functionality and minimal aesthetic quickly attracted fans off the court, becoming a lifestyle staple. The pair above harks back to the shoe's early days with an off-white finish in classic retro style.

Stepney Workers Club Dellow

Dellow Canvas

$105

Stepney Workers Club

Buy at Highsnobiety

With the majority of classic sneakers, it is their history that gives them the status of being a bonafide footwear icon. However, East London's purveyor of casual cool shoes, Stepney Workers Club manages to conjure up the same classic aesthetic from its relatively new array of sneakers.

As co-founders, Roger Pereira and Simon See told us in a recent interview, the label's aesthetic looks as though, "It could have been around for the last 80 years and adopted by many sub-cultures."

Acne Studios Perey

Perey Velcro Strap Sneakers

Perey Velcro Strap Sneakers

$360

Acne Studios

Buy at Highsnobiety

With a slightly yellowed midsole, the Acne Studios Perey not only looks like a classic sneaker but one that's been your go-to minimal footwear option for a few years — worn-in to perfection. Made of calf leather with subtle Acne Studios branding, this sleek sneaker makes things even more simple by ditching traditional laces for Velcro straps.

Last Resort AB VM002

VM002 Suede Lo

VM002 Suede Lo

$95

Last Resort AB

Buy at Highsnobiety

When a shoe skates as well as those by Last Resort there's no need for loud design gimmicks, the brand keeps to a slim vulcanized design that can easily slot into anyone's rotation. Created by skaters Sami Tolppi and Pontus Alv, the veteran skaters ensure that the sneaker brand uses highly durable materials that mean you will be able to keep these in your rotation for years to come.

It might not have the lengthy history of other sneakers on this list, but the design has all the makings of an instant classic.

Vans Old Skool

Old Skool 36 DX

Old Skool 36 DX

$100

Vans

Buy at Highsnobiety

The Vans Old Skool has weaved itself into many subcultures from skateboarding to punk rock to streetwear while being a favorite of celebrities such as Rihanna and Kim Kardashian. It truly is a shoe for everyone, which is what gives the Old Skool such an iconic status.

Crafted in a suede and textile upper, with a leather Vans Sidestripe, it's an instantly recognizable sneaker — especially in this black and white colorway.

Puma Suede Classic

Suede Vintage 'The Never Worn'

Suede Vintage 'The Never Worn'

$115

PUMA

Buy at Highsnobiety

What started off as a basketball sneaker eventually become a sartorial symbol of the protest against racism and injustice in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Puma Suede took off when Tommie Smith gave his Black Power salute atop the podium during the 1968 Summer Olympics. While he was wearing the Suede just before stepping onto the podium, he took off the sneaker to keep all attention on the protest itself.

Over the decades, the sneaker has been adopted by hip-hop artists, B-Boys, breakdancers, rockers, and other facets of counterculture. To this day, the sneaker is revered for its quality, all-suede uppers, and longstanding history.

HOKA Clifton 8

Clifton 8

Clifton 8

$160

HOKA

Buy at Highsnobiety

The HOKA Clifton first launched in 2014 and quickly became a favorite of runners, reaching the level of becoming a classic running shoe in a few short years. And since the label's footwear has been picked up by style enthusiasts that recognized how comfortable its chunky midsole is, the shoe has been pegged as the ultimate everyday trainer.

Salomon XT-Wings 2

XT-Wings 2 ADV

XT-Wings 2 ADV

$160

Salomon

Buy at Highsnobiety

For outdoor enthusiasts, the Salomon XT line has been the purveyor of quintessential outdoor trail-running sneakers for some time. But, since the rise of gorp, it has become the classic trail running sneaker for fashion enthusiasts alike.

Its status as a classic comes by no coincidence, the label started in a small metal workshop founded by the Salomon family in 1947 and rose to become the leading trail running brand in 2000. Since then, it has continued to tweak and improve its line of sneakers to make them the advanced technical shoes we see and love today.

Want to keep browsing? Head to the Highsnobiety Shop for more products that we love. Highsnobiety has affiliate marketing partnerships, which means we may receive a commission from your purchase.

To stay updated on everything happening in the sneaker world, follow @highsnobietysneakers on Instagram, check out the best sneakers to add to your rotation this week, and sign up to our newsletter for the latest sneaker news sent straight to your inbox.

What To Read Next

*If you submitted your e-mail address and placed an order, we may use your e-mail address to inform you regularly about similar products without prior explicit consent. You can object to the use of your e-mail address for this purpose at any time without incurring any costs other than the transmission costs according to the basic tariffs. Each newsletter contains an unsubscribe link. Alternatively, you can object to receiving the newsletter at any time by sending an e-mail to info@highsnobiety.com

Web Accessibility Statement

Titelmedia (Highsnobiety), is committed to facilitating and improving the accessibility and usability of its Website, www.highsnobiety.com. Titelmedia strives to ensure that its Website services and content are accessible to persons with disabilities including users of screen reader technology. To accomplish this, Titelmedia has engaged UsableNet Inc, a leading web accessibility consultant to help test, remediate and maintain our Website in-line with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which also bring the Website into conformance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Disclaimer

Please be aware that our efforts to maintain accessibility and usability are ongoing. While we strive to make the Website as accessible as possible some issues can be encountered by different assistive technology as the range of assistive technology is wide and varied.

Contact Us

If, at any time, you have specific questions or concerns about the accessibility of any particular webpage on this Website, please contact us at accessibility@highsnobiety.com, +49 (0)30 235 908 500. If you do encounter an accessibility issue, please be sure to specify the web page and nature of the issue in your email and/or phone call, and we will make all reasonable efforts to make that page or the information contained therein accessible for you.