Top 5 iconic sneakers of all time

SNEAKER culture is a very real hobby among sneaker collectors and admirers. International students Chris Chung, Vivi Sun and Zi Low weigh in on their top five iconic sneakers of all time. 

Photo: Wen Zeng via Flickr

Photo: Wen Zeng via Flickr

Though you might not be aware of it, there is in fact a sneaker culture in the world today and like any other hobby, it’s something that’s fun and worthwhile for avid collectors and admirers of sneakers.

For some students, though it might be an expensive hobby, that doesn’t stop them from admiring the craft and design put into some of the world’s most iconic sneakers of all time.

In this piece, we take a look at five of the most iconic sneakers to have been created and illustrate their own significance and history.

Air Jordan XI



The Jordan XI is arguably the most iconic pair of sneakers of all time and was voted as such by Sole Collector Magazine.

Released in 1996, the Jordan XI instantly became a worldwide ‘must have’ for collectors around the globe.

It is designed by the legendary Nike shoe designer Tinker Hatfield who first introduced patented leather for basketball shoes.

Why is it so iconic? What makes it so special and popular?:

The Jordan XI is regarded as one of the greatest sneakers of all time for several reasons.

The design and colour of the shoes themselves is quite popular, it’s closely associated with the film, Space Jam, and was the same pair that NBA great Michael Jordan wore when he carried the Chicago Bulls to an NBA championship.

With regards to Space Jam, the movie was so popular that the Space Jam variant of the Jordan XI is often sold at an even higher price than the regular Jordan XI.

Michael Jordan has also worn the shoes throughout various occasions both on and off the court. He has worn it during a NBA all star game and also in a tuxedo.

Original Price: USD $125

Current Price: USD $500-$600

Air Jordan III



Again designed by legendary sneaker designer Tinker Hatfield in 1987, this was the first instance where the “Nike Air” logo on the back of the shoe was replaced by the now legendary “Jumpman” logo with the word “Air” underneath it.

Why is it so iconic? What makes it so special and popular?:

This was the first time sneakers feature a visible air unit on the heel, an elephant print trim and tumbled leather.

Michael Jordan wore these during  the 1988 Dunk Championship and many other events. Furthermore, the price of the Air Jordan III is not expensive, which is why they’ve remained popular amongst young people.

Current price: USD $120-250

Nike Air Force 1



The Air Force 1 was produced in 1982 and was later released once more in 1986. The shoes are sold in three different styles – low, mid and high.

Moreover, Nike Air Force 1s were originally considered the favored shoe of inner-city youths.

Current price:

USD: $100-$200

Why is it so iconic? What makes it so special and popular?:

The price of Nike Air Force 1 is also not too expensive, a main factor amongst the many young people who buy them.

Nike’s Air Force 1 sneakers are also good for playing basketball at a street level rather than at a professional level as it is made to feel comfortable on the court and off it.

Nike Air Mag



A newer release. Nike created the Nike Air Mag in 2011 based on the movie, Back To The Future 2.

The proceeds earned from the Nike Air Mag were all donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Fox starred in the Back to the Future films as Marty McFly.

Why is it so iconic? What makes it so special and popular?:

The Nike Air Mag shoes are considered to be limited edition shoes as only 1,500 pairs were produced.

They were all put up on eBay for auction with the starting bid of the sneakers set as low as 99 cents.

However in just 20 short minutes, the sneakers bids were as high as $2000. The first pair, in fact sold at a price of $37,500!

Original Price: USD $3,500

Current Price: USD: $7,000

Nike Air Jordan 1



Nike signed a contract with Michael Jordan in 1984 and in the following the year released the first pair of Air Jordans.

From there, Jordan was fined a penalty of $5,000 for each game he played with the Air Jordan 1 but Nike took it upon themselves to pay the penalties for Jordan instead.

Why is it so iconic? What makes it so special and popular?:

The first generation of Air Jordans became famous, or rather infamous, due to their complete ban on the sneakers on the court. This created a craze for the shoes even before they hit the market.

Michael Jordan had achieved several victories in the Nike Air Jordan 1 which includes a huge 63-point playoff performance.

Original Price: USD: $65

Current Price: USD $3,500

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