Great Moments in Sneaker History

  • Michael Jordan in his namesake sneakers. 

    Much like jeans, army jackets, and trench coats, sneakers started out occupying a very specific sartorial window and have since become part of common currency. Once reserved for tennis, croquet, and basketball, they’re now seen on couture runways, in boardrooms, and — thanks to Wendy Davis— even on the floor of the Texas State Senate. (When filibustering, arch support is key to endurance.)

    Athletes have served as namesakes for countless sneaker styles, many of which we still wear today — think Stan Smiths or Jordans. Sneakers have been a boon to commuting working women, lit up the feet of trendy ‘80s teens, and been transformed into pants, thanks to the genius that is Willow Smith. See below for some of our favorite sneaker moments in history — from sports to pop culture to politics.

    Paul Newman’s Plimsolls              

    Showing them how it’s done: The actor accessorized his preppy outfit with a pair of tennis shoes in 1965.

    Farrah Fawcett’s Nike Cortez Sneakers 

    The Charlie’s Angels star skated into our hearts in the casual '70s style, which the company still makes today. 

    Run-DMC’s Adidas Superstars 

    The shoes even got their own Run-DMC ode, “My Adidas.”

    Missy Elliott’s Adidas Shell-Toes 

    The original athleisure queen wore a bedazzled Adidas tracksuit and bright-white sneakers to the 2003 Grammys.

    Miranda Hobbs’s Commuter Sneakers 

    For Sex and the City 2 in 2009, the character worked theWorking Girl commuter look.

    Wendy Davis’s Mizuno Wave Riders                         

    The state senator wore the comfortable footwear for her legendary filibuster in 2013. Supporters quickly raced to review the pink sneakers on Amazon with plaudits like “Guaranteed to outrun patriarchy.” Davis later traded them in for Reed Krakoff heels in a Vogue spread.

    Sneakers on the Dior Spring 2014 Runway                           

    Sneakers made a rare appearance at a couture show. The embellished styles became instant street-style favorites.

    Yeezy Boosts                           

    When he launched his blockbuster shoe collaboration with Adidas late last year, Kanye West urged fans to exercise caution. “I’ve heard about people getting hurt for sneaker culture in the past. I just want everyone to be safe and be patient,” he told Ryan Seacrest. “Eventually everybody who wants to get Yeezys will get Yeezys."