So, you’re expecting this article to be about the usual suspects, the vintage Air Jordans, Nike Air Force Ones, and Chuck Taylors. Those are the most ubiquitous retro sneakers and elicit nostalgia from nearly everyone but they are not the only significant sneakers to consider when shopping for throwback shoes. If you are looking for something a little different from the norm that will be a true conversation starter, consider these three oft-overlooked but still iconic throwback sneakers.
Nike Air Max 95
The Nike Air Max 95 is the sportiest of the bunch and also the most timeless. The shoe remains in production as of the fall of 2013 and its looks don’t date the shoe one bit. Even though this running shoe’s looks stand the test of time, there is no denying that it evokes nostalgia for the mid-’90s when it was a very progressive design. The cascading shades of color along the Air Max 95’s sides make it an easy shoe for color matching. Keep things casual when sporting these running shoes as their construction and design lean toward the more athletic end of the retro sneaker spectrum. Matching a primary or secondary color from a tee-shirt is a solid way to make your Nike Air Max 95 outfit pop. A custom-made NIKEiD pair can even be created, allowing you to represent your favorite sports team from head-to-toe on game day.
The 1989 release of the Reebok Pump was not greeted with as much fanfare as most Nike Air releases, but the shoe remains a vital part of pop-culture and its popularity is still thriving in the throwback shoe scene. For retro sneaker purists, there is the original white high-stop with blue accents and the signature orange basketball pump mechanism. Those who want to put a new spin on the classic style of the Reebok Pump basketball shoe also have a choice of many newer color schemes. The Reebok Pump is by no means a dress shoe, but it isn’t nearly as casual as the athletic Nike Air Max 95 design. The fashion-forward retro sneaker fan can absolutely sport this throwback basketball shoe with dark denim and a deconstructed sport coat or blazer. The primarily white coloring of the original Reebok Pump high-tops makes it extremely versatile in terms of color matching. Tuck those jeans behind the Reebok Pump’s tongue to let that orange ball show and give your throwback sneaker outfit a bit of a “Back to the Future” look. The look borders on hipster but the overall aesthetic still gives a solid enough nod to early-’90s fashion to keep you from being confused for Animal Collective’s biggest fan.
The Bally Animal is the dressiest, most expensive, and hardest to find of the throwback sneakers on this list of classic retro tennis shoes. Bally Animals might not be a household name in the same way as the Reebok Pump or Nike Air Max 95, but these Swiss-made luxury sneakers from the early-’90s were all the rage in the New Orleans hip-hop scene back in the day. The popularity of the Bally Animal was solidified when New Orleans-based rapper Bust Down dropped “Put Ya Bally’s On” in 1991 and was later reaffirmed when Lil’ Wayne waxed nostalgic about them. The flat sole of the Bally Animal and the distinctive soft leather uppers give them a dressier appearance than most sneakers. Bally made the Animal shoe in an array of primary colors, making it a true statement shoe for those who like their footwear to pop. Due to the prominence of the shoe’s coloring, it might be best to match the shoe to a secondary color in your outfit like the color of your shirt’s Polo logo, for instance.
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