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Throwback Thursday: Sneakers of the 80s

A few weeks ago we talked about the track suit but absolutely nothing rounded them out better than a fresh pair of kicks (sneakers to you youngins out there!) So, today we will take a look at a few of the iconic brands that shaped the 80s  (and yes, I am omitting Air Jordans for a reason so don’t trip!)

1. Adidas Superstars

Depending on your region they were shell toe, shellheads, shelltops, etc., but these were THE shoe that defined the symbol of cool in the early 80s and made famous of course by none other than Run DMC.  These shoes came in a number of colors co ordinations and are celebrating over 40 years of being one of the flagship sneakers of the Adidas brand.

Little Known fact: “My Adidas” was written as a counter to a song called “Felon Sneakers” Jerrald Deas

2. Nike Air Force 1

Named after the president’s plane, this shoe came out in 1982 and was discontinued but re-released again in 1986 and was called “The Uptown” by youths in Harlem. In the 25 years since its inception, they have gone through very few design changes and have had over 1700 color variations over the 25+ years of existence.

3. Adidas Forum

Depending on what region you  were in, these shoes were seen as the competition to the Nike Airs. Since 1984, these shoes have come along in a hi-mid or low cut variety and was a first not only for Adidas but for shoe makers in general seeing what kind of revenue they could get for different cut shoes.

4. Reebok Classics

If the above shoes were popular on the court then the Reebok Classics were one of the most popular shoes off of the court. These shoes were introduced in 1983 from the UK around the time that the US was going into a fitness craze and was probably one of the most popular shoes to buy in the 80s until Nike cross-trainer shoes came along.  This shoe was also popular because they were also unisex and one of the first shoes to have that appeal.

5. Fila Original fitness

Not much is really known about these Italian sneakers except these, in my opinion, were the rivals to the Reebok sneakers and came out around 1984-85.   Not as popular as Reeboks, Fila did manage to have a clean basic design and a pretty decent following…unless you were a Beastie Boy fan.  “Rock my Adidas,  never rock Fila.”  – Beastie Boys, “The Sounds of Science” 1989

6. And a big special mention to these…no words needed:

And before we go, let’s round this out to a few oddball shoes.

Footjoys –  now mostly worn by golfers

New Balance

Ok, in my opinion, these were snob shoes. These were good fitness shoes if you were serious about your workout but didn’t want to wear what the ‘hood kids’ were wearing. Plus the price tag was 30 to 40 dollars higher than regular shoes and you couldn’t find these shoes in urban outlets, only in the Foot Lockers at the malls.  By the wya, yeah…anyone remember a LONG LONG time ago when Foot Locker stores could NEVER be found in the ‘hood? Look at them now.


I actually remember buying a pair of these my senior year of high school just to be different and to be honest, they weren’t that bad.  Very different and under rated Italian sneakers.

Yes, yes!  I know I missed a few such as the Nike Air Max, Reebok Fitness and many more but guess what?? there is always room to revisit this again!!!   Enjoy!!

About Armand (1270 Articles)
Armand is a husband, father, and life long comics fan. A devoted fan of Batman and the Valiant Universe he loves writing for PCU, when he's not running his mouth on the PCU podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @armandmhill
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