For me, footwear is as important as the clothing you wear and if your footwear doesn’t match your outfit, then you’ve done it all wrong. The 90s was a time where to the newer generations we wore some questionable shoes, but without the 90s we wouldn’t have so many retro pairs of shoes making a return year after year. So with that in mind, here’s a list of 10 iconic ones I remember.
The concept of these iconic footwear dates back as far as 1880 where William Clark wanted to create the perfect shoe made for practicality and comfort, but it wasn’t until 1967 where Nathan Clark developed the “Wallabee” sole. The 90s changed the game for them as hip-hop culture stepped in and started wearing the footwear.
196 years on, the British company may not still be a household name with the newer generations, but they have managed to stay relevant as one of the most reliable shoemakers in the world.
Caribbean’s having always been wearing Clarks as school shoes for as long as I can remember. All the boys in my family at one time or another had a pair, especially black or navy-blue ones for school and church. They would even have other colours to match their outfits.
In 1985, the British iconic footwear was introduced to the world as the perfect gym shoes. Reebok was founded in 1958 as a companion company to J.W. Foster and Sons who had been around since 1895, who was a pioneer in the use of track spikes for runners and athletes.
38 years on, Reebok Classics are still available in most trainer stores like JD Sports and Footlocker. This was helped by the Adidas takeover of Reebok in 2005.
I remember having a few pairs of Reebok Classics over the years that I would wear especially for P.E. in primary school. Their plain designed footwear was one of the only trainers accepted by my school other than plimsolls. Plimsolls were cool, but Reeboks were so much better.
Nike Air Max 90s
Released in 1990, Nike produced the range of trainers as they were inspired by the multicultural complex called Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. The centre features on showing the inner workings of the building including the plumbing and electrics on the outside in a variety of colours.
This was the origins of the exposed Air Bubble in the sole of the trainers and changed the creative way trainers would be designer forever.
Growing up, I had a few of these in my collection. I always liked them used to the different colour waves you could get them to whether it was the same colour in different tones or random colours pieced together, they were always eye-catching.
Iconic is one of the best words I can use, to sum up, this footwear. When they were first created is unclear, but some say they were designed by a French shoemaker in the 1950s using PVC plastic after World War 2 due to the shortage of leather in Europe.
Years later, Jelly Shoes are making a comeback, with people of all ages still purchasing them.
They made wearing plastic on your feet cool and stylish. You could get these in some many colours and styles. I’ve never liked feet, so showing my toes isn’t my thing, but I remember having matching Jelly Shoes with my mum and thinking I was hip. You could even get them with little heels on the bottom and when summer came, as a female everyone had them.
Embellished Mesh Slippers
Slippers date back as far as the 12th century from the Vietnamese culture and in 1939 became popular on global marketing after Judy Garland wore the iconic Ruby Slippers in The Wizard of Oz.
Generally, slippers are to be worn at home for indoor comfort, but the way the culture has shifted, we now wear slippers/sliders outdoors as everyday footwear.
I remember these being another summer favourite for females of all ages. No one wants to walk around in shoes that make their feet feel extra hot when the weather outside is nice. Grandma used to wear them as her normal house slippers, and she had the odd pair she would only wear to the park.
Nike Air Force 1
First released in 1982 and quickly discontinued in 1984, the Air Force One range seemed to have failed to be a success. Nike decided to take them back to the drawing board with a re-release in 1986 with their modern logo in the logo swoosh on the side of the shoes at the back.
These trainers became popular with the inner-city children of the 90s especially in Harlem, New York and were dubbed “Uptowns”. This placed them on a pedestal to be known as one the best trainers of all times and 39 years on, Nike has released over 1,700 different colour variations in this range.
I’ve always had Air Forces in my trainer collection for as long as I can remember. To me, they’re one of the most important ones to have. It’s like having soft boots on your feet and I used to have multiple pairs of the plain white ones. The only differences with them were that the main stitching used to make them was done in different colours. I currently have a white pair with a navy-blue tick in my collection.
LA Gear Light Ups
1992 was the year the American company released their line of trainers with children in mind and became one of their most successful trainers of all time.
29 years on, the LA Gear brand has tried multiple times to relaunch the company to put itself back into the fight of being the best after their founder Robert Greenberg left in the 90s.
I remember many boys I went to primary school with having a pair as they were in love with the fact their trainers lit up every time they walked. The only footwear of the 90s that made it hard to go missing in the dark. You were able to light up the way for anyone walking behind you and has a Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean video kind of feel.
Patented by Roger Adams in 1999, despite their skater boy like style, they were able to reach children all over the world with something that was never seen before.
These trainers gave you the ability to skate without having to change your footwear.
I never had a pair of myself, but they looked like loads of fun. I remember a few of my younger cousins whizzing around with their Heelys on looking cool. When we used to go to the park, and they would try to do crazy skills in them to see who was the best and watching them make up tricks while hurting themselves along the way was interesting to see.
First produced in 1936 by Norwegian shoemaker George Henry Bass to be a stylish pair of slip-on shoes and as the story goes some claim travellers to Norway took an interest in the footwear worn by the fisherman on the docks. Loafers have managed to stay so well relevant since then, that they are now worn with smart or casual attire.
All boys and men in the family have had a pair of Loafers in their collections once or twice throughout the years. They’ve worn them for school, to weddings and even the odd casual house party. Loafers are the type of footwear that I like to see on a guy when their whole attire is looking good.
Created in France back in 1970 by Daniel Raufast. His dream was to create a range of footwear for the youth. With the help of the music scene in the 80s and 90s, Kickers started working their way up the ranks and placed themselves in a position to be forever known as the youth’s favourites. It was only after doing research, I realised that they also produce a range of clothing.
These were my go-to school shoes, especially in my younger years. You couldn’t go wrong with a pair of Kickers. They seemed like the unbreakable shoes that I would wear even to play football at break times as changing into my trainers seemed like a waste of time. I don’t feel like Kickers are made from the same quality leather anymore, children of this generation seem to mash them up way too quick.
If you think I’ve any of your favourites, leave a comment and let me know which ones.
All images taken from Google search.