In 1961, women were banned from running in road races in the U.S.. It wasn't until 1972 that eight women made history starting and finishing the Boston Marathon. They arrived, dressed in itty bitty shorts and men's running sneakers, ready to pave the way for gender equality. Today, both sport and fashion have come a long way, but we still look to the fearlessness and boundary-pushing design of the era. While women don't have to wear men's sneakers to break a sweat in anymore, many of the same '70s sneaker trends are being worn again today.
During that same year when women first ran in the marathon, Nike's classic Cortez sneakers (shown below from a 1977 Vogue shoot) were released. While the iconic design with a round-toe and leather still remains popular, other modern brands are also embodying the spirit of the shoe. "The jogging craze started in the '70s and this type of runner was born," Sean Barron, Co-Founder of RE/DONE, tells TZR about the shoe. Barron adds that modern styles include lots of color as well as low profile designs. Drawing inspiration from the old school silhouettes, his Los Angeles-based label launched its '70s Runner shoe along with the '70s Tennis Shoe (which resembles Adidas' iconic Stan Smith sneaker). "Both of these sneakers are the type of sneakers I wore growing up, so having a relationship with them made it interesting to develop," the co-founder says.
In the '70s, popular sneakers consisted of low silhouettes, both bright and rich colors, round-toes, a rubber sole, and a slim fit. For a cool retro take on these trends, British fashion designer Grace Wales Bonner teamed up with Adidas in 2020 to create a collection of sporty pieces influenced by London's '70s subcultures, which includes the 'SL 72' style sneaker. The shoe comes in two exciting colorways: pink and orange as well as emerald green and maroon. But if you're not a track star, fear not: there are more fashionable options out there, too. Whether you wear them with your denim or to your workout class, ahead find four '70s inspired sneaker styles you can buy today.
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'70s Sneaker Trend: Minimal
If you don't stray too far from your minimal white sneakers, no need to go out of your comfort zone. Choose a '70s style sneaker in neutral hues like RE/DONE's 70s Runner Shoe or Spalwart's White & Grey Marathon Trail Low Sneakers. If you like a touch of color splashed on your simple kicks, go with Onitsuka Tiger's Serrano Sneakers.
'70s Sneaker Trend: Bright
You'd be hard-pressed to look through vintage photos from the '70s and not see a bright sneaker (even when the image is in black and white). Try the striking shoe out with the bubblegum pink and bright orange style from Adidas x Wales Bonner. And for a rich jewel-toned addition to your sneaker lineup, choose either Tretorn's turquoise Rawlins 3 Retro Jogger Sneakers or Diadora's royal blue Equipe Suede.
'70s Sneaker Trend: Modern Sport
Not all of these '70s-inspired sneakers are super retro looking, many have a modern sporty twist. For instance, Luxury brand Loewe went for a more modern take with its Ballet Runner, featuring a ballet pump combined with the style of a 1970s track shoe. A-COLD-WALL opted for the same slim silhouette and round-toe shown on '70s sneakers, but went for a contemporary clear sole. And if you're feeling especially sporty, give the Nike x Off White Vapor Street Sneaker a try. They're probably unlike any shoe sitting in your closet.
'70s Sneaker Trend: Ladylike
Even ladylike labels like Tory Burch, Marni, and MM6 Maison Margiela are infusing the era of Woodstock into their shoes. The use of suede, leather, retro florals, as well as popular colors like bright green, burnt orange, and golden yellow are all throwback details —all in a slim, sleek silhouette. Women in the '70s paired the polished shoe with everything from their chic boating apparel to their tennis uniforms. Today, give the trend a go with Tory Burch's Serif Tory Sneaker, detailed with delicate flowers. If you're giving your heels a break, you can still sport a glitzy shoe with Marni's Multicolor Patchwork Sneakers. And yes, you can buy the sneaker in hot pink thanks to MM6 Maison Margiela's Low-Top Lace-Up Sneakers.