Idiots Guide: Hottest Sneakers of the 1980’s

The 1980’s were the decade that formed a great deal of what American consumer culture is today. One would be hard pressed to find a more influential, and transformative decade for American sneaker culture.  This is a compilation that highlights some of the hottest, and best selling sneakers of the decade. Here’s a great opportunity to run down memory lane.

#10. Saucony Jazz / Original Launch: 1981


With an emphasis on balance, the ‘Maxitrac’ outsole technology made this shoe very popular with the paved street marathon crowd in the early 1980’s. What it may have lacked in aesthetic power was made up for with amazing running comfort and utility.

#9. New Balance 990 / Original Launch: 1982


The first of the eventual many sneakers with a $100 per pair price tag, the New Balance 990 was serious running shoe business. It featured advanced motion control stability technology, and instant ‘street credibility’ for the prohibitive cost. Good shoe, big price.

#8. Nike Cortez / Original Launch: 1972


The ‘Cortez‘ was originally launched in the early 1970’s as a specific running shoe. However, the mid-1980’s saw a resurgence in it’s popularity as dictated by it’s incredible sales numbers. It’s simple, yet sleek design had a timeless profile. A handsome shoe.

#7. Nike Air Max 1 / Original Launch: 1987


The Air Max was conceived and designed by the same man, Tinker Hatfield, who also designed a lion’s share of the wildly successful Air Jordan shoes. It comes as no surprise when considering the popularity and ‘cross training’ utility of this shoe. Classic.

#6. Adidas Decade / Original Launch: 1984


The Adidas Decade was an extremely popular shoe on college campuses throughout the decade of the 1980’s. Using the marketing of a variety of college colors and traditions.  This shoe was stylish, and certainly durable.

#5. Nike Air Force 1 / Original Launch: 1982 

Air force 1

Named after the Presidential aircraft, Air Force 1 shoes were slightly bulky, yet commanded respect from the public, especially on the competitive black-top basketball courts. Nice.

#4. Puma Baskets / Original Launch: 1973


Originally launched in the early 1970’s these sneakers became a scorching hot commodity in the 1980’s. The leather version and it’s sister suede version, were both sleek and cool. These shoes became a staple of the B-Boy set during the advent of break-dancing. Sweet.

#3. Converse Weapon / Original Launch: 1986


The Weapon‘ held it’s own with upstart Nike in the mid-1980’s. Since then it has spawned a treasure trove of celebrity inspired ‘special editions’, such as the ‘DC Comics’, ‘Pink Floyd’, ‘AC/DC’, ‘Metallica’, ‘Grateful Dead’, ‘Ozzy Osbourne’, and even ‘Nirvana’.

#2. Adidas Superstar / Original Launch: 1969

adidas superstar 80s

The Adidas Superstar was the very first low-top basketball shoe with the special feature all-leather upper, with the iconic rubber ‘shell-toe’. First launched in 1969, it wasn’t until the 1980’s with celebrity endorsements like ‘Run-Dmc’ that made it an cultural icon.

#1. Nike Air Jordan 1 / Original Launch: 1985 

Air Jordan 1985

Air Jordan has become a global iconic brand. This ridiculously fantastic shoe was first produced specifically for the greatest basketball player of all-time, Michael Jordan in 1984. It became available for consumer purchase the following year, 1985. Since then, it’s popularity has eclipsed Nike’s wildest initial sales projections. It has not come without controversy however, as many critics cite the shoes astronomical price, and the sales targeting to the often impoverished urban youth who purchase them. Nevertheless, Air Jordan is the gold standard of basketball shoe. It transcends basketball, into the universe.

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