Throughout history, there have been few fashions that have maintained the very same cult following over generations, without so much as a slight alteration. (Even Chanel flap bags have undergone revisions over the years.) Trainers fall into this unwavering category, with fashion lovers and "sneakerheads" alike trying desperately to nail down what, exactly, makes them so timeless. What's certain is that, since the '50s-era sneaker boom, the casual footwear crept from sportswear to streetwear — and haven't budged since. There's a few retro sneakers from the archives in particular that are worth examining, as they continue to reign supreme today.
Even as minimalism has become something of an aesthetic norm in the industry, all it's taken is a Nike swoosh or a PUMA formstrip to remind the world of the endless appeal of the trainer. We can, in part, thank It-girls like Farrah Fawcett and Madonna for sensationalizing the colorful, logomania-steeped silhouettes through the '70s and '80s (Fawcett's shoe of choice being the Nike Cortez; Madonna's, the Adidas Superstar.) To scope out how the top five cult-sneakers were styled then, as a means to inspire your own ensembles now, continue ahead:
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Retro Sneakers From The Archives: Nike Cortez
The red swoosh-emblazoned running sneaker first debuted at the 1972 Olympics, and quickly became a mainstay in footwear thereafter, with different color-ways ranging from electric blues to lemon yellows. It's explosion into mainstream wouldn't come until the late '70s and early '80s, when women often styled them with sporty track attire or an easy pair of blue jeans (which is just how Emily Ratajkowski wears hers now).
Retro Sneakers From The Archives: Keds Champion Sneakers
As the tennis fashion trend continues to percolate, it's well worth considering the shoe that started it all: Keds' Champion Originals. The basic white sneaker has consistently been an ultra-feminine alternate to more unisex styles, becoming popular just before Nike and Adidas silhouettes in the '50s.
Retro Sneakers From The Archives: Adidas Superstar
Originally considered a basketball shoe, the three-striped impetus of the Adidas Superstar cannot be overstated. Long known to stand in competition with Converse's Chuck Taylor silhouette, the shell-toed sneaker has been rendered in every color pairing imaginable, but white with black or red stripes has remained the status quo. Madonna wore and loved them; It-girls lined up around the block for them; and millions have kept coming back to them for decades.
Retro Sneakers From The Archives: Converse All Stars
Speaking of Converse — it's hard not to tout anything Princess Diana wore (and re-wore for that matter) in her lifetime. Still, it'd be remiss to say that the impetus of Converse All Stars sneakers begins and ends there. Known for gracing nearly every nostalgic movie, from The Breakfast Club, to Pulp Fiction, to Grease — the cotton canvas shoe offered an appealing alternate to bulky leather trainers, with a more casual, slim-fitting silhouette.
Retro Sneakers From The Archives: Puma Speedcat OG Sparco Sneakers
At the intersection of sports fandom and fashion, there was Puma. At every turn, the formstrip-banded trainer was known to be called on by athletes (Judy Vernon, left) and actors (Barbara Frey, right) for active days afoot. A bit less omnipresent in street style, the silhouette has remained a surprising alternate to some of the slightly more overdone classics. Today, girls like Reese Witherspoon and Cara Delevingne are known to sport Puma, all inviting their own spin on the timeless Speedcat sneaker.