Ask someone on the street to name the first sneaker brands that come to mind and they’ll start somewhere around Adidas and end near Nike. These brands, while classic and iconic, can often run you over a hundred dollars for their kicks. If you have a thing for exorbitantly priced shoes, keeping them pristine, and collecting/selling them, we salute you. But there’s also a handful of classic alternatives that won’t have you dropping a full paycheck to purchase. These shoes can be had for less than your international roaming charges — $55, tops. And they’re essentials for a reason: despite updates and new colorways, the originals remain in high demand. Grab one, two or three.
Superga 2750 Cotu Classic
The Italian shoemaker Superga has made the classic casual footwear since 1911. Today, the 2750 Cotu Classic clean canvas sneaker represents the epitome of affordable, lean luxe.
Saucony Jazz Original
Saucony has been around since 1898 and was named after the creek on which the factory resided. Saucony’s self-proclaimed “signature silhouette,” the Jazz, was designed in 1981, and it’s still popular today. It’s comfortable enough for everyday wear, but perfectly suited for activities like hiking.
PF Flyers Center Hi
PF Flyers gained popularity in the 1950s with its iconically chunky, rugged sneakers — which are still produced today, and with the same crowd-pleasing Posture Foundation insert that provides ample comfort and support.
Puma Super Liga OG Retro
Puma began as a small shoe factory and had its first big success providing sneakers to the 1928 Olympic athletes. The Super Liga OG Retro sneaker is an understated-yet-elevated footwear companion.
Reebok Classic Nylon
The ’80s never die with the shiny nylon on this classic Reebok. It’s tempered by soft suede, which balances out the two-toned body without losing the spirit of the revered and reviled decade.
Vans Authentic Core Classics
When the Vans Authentic came out in 1966, only 12 customers bought them directly from the factory. They then became popular within the SoCal skate scene in the 1970s and are now ubiquitous in skate circles.
New Balance Numeric AM210
Founded in 1906 as the New Balance Arch Support Company, New Balance mainly sold supports until 1960, when it manufactured the world’s first ripple-sole running shoe. The 574 was introduced in 1988 and quickly became one of the brand’s most popular models. Since then they’ve introduced an endless number of new designs, including skateboard-focused footwear — like the AM210 — under the New Balance Numeric namesake.
Adidas Samba Classic
Bavaria-born Adidas “started in a washroom and conquered the world.” These iconic sneakers are the standard for indoor soccer and have been so since the 1940s. They also go great with a pair of jeans.
Keds Champion Originals
Keds just turned 100 years old. And while it may not have made America’s first “sneaker,” these were one of the first rubber-soled shoes to carry the name. As with Vans Authentics and Chucks, it’s hard to imagine this silhouette and white colorway going out of style.
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star
Converse named their rubber, high-top basketball sneaker the “All Star” in 1920. Almost 100 years later, people are still wearing these sneakers. They may have recently received a modern (and more expensive) update, but the originals — including this low top version —will always be on our list of favorites.
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