Sneaker History has served up some jaw-dropping moments – some for the right reasons, while others not so much. The ‘wow’ moments have been well documented, but it’s often those ‘WTF’ releases that we just can’t get out of our heads – despite wishing we could (for the most part)! Some moments simply can’t be forgotten, and we’re here reminisce about these wild, wacky, and downright wrong sneaker memories from years gone by.
adidas Micropacer (1984)
The world's first notable computer-infused sneaker – the adidas Micropacer – was blessed with a space-age look and an 'advanced' microprocessor, which collected data on everything from distance travelled to calories burned. It may seem a little archaic by today's standards, but considering digital wristwatches were still 'technologically advanced' at the time, this sneaker really set the pace in the sneaker tech race.
PUMA RS Computer (1986)
Just over a year later, PUMA did their best to out-tech their long-time rivals by releasing their very own computer-infused crep, unveiling the aptly named RS Computer. The chunky computer-chipped heel unit was perhaps a precursor to the modern 'dad' movement, but this oversized add-on actually went for function over form. It was essentially a basic Fitbit on your feet, measuring data as you ran. It also plugged into a computer, so you could analyse your performance data. All you needed besides the sneakers was an Apple IIE, Commodore 64, or IBM PC – and probably a fairly large disposable income for the time.
Marty McFly's Nike Air Mags (1989)
When the world first saw Marty McFly rocking self-lacing Nike Air Mags in 1989's Back to the Future Part II, the concept of that kind of user-friendly technology in a sneaker was pretty much reserved for science fiction. Fast-forward to 2020, and the self-lacing sneaker concept is basically yesteryear's news! The idea may have lost its WTF-factor in recent times, but Marty's Mags undoubtedly provided sneaker designers a muse for many years to come.
Michael Jordan Wears Penny Hardaway’s Nike Air Flights (1995)
If you thought Michael Jordan only ever wore his signature lineup during his illustrious career, you'll be surprised to find out he laced up a pair of Penny Hardaway's Nike Air Flights during the 1995 Playoffs. After sporting the Tinker Hatfield–designed Air Jordan 11 in Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against Penny's Orlando Magic, His Airness opted to switch to the Air Flights after he was fined $5,000 by the league. The reason: the AJ11 colourway didn't match his teammates' black shoes in the first two games of the series. In true MJ fashion, he had Penny's '1 Cent' graphic taken off the heel.
adidas Kobe 2 (2001)
The adidas Kobe 2 was perhaps the most notorious signature sneaker ever created, taking the Kobe 1's Audi TT–inspired aesthetic, and dialling it up to levels no one could've expected. Aptly nicknamed the 'Toaster' by fans, the shoe undoubtedly contributed to the burning of Kobe's long-time adidas deal. It wasn't all bad news, though – we did get The Mamba's sneaker free agency period, as well as ensuing deal with the Swoosh in the years to follow.
Latrell Sprewell's Dada Supreme Spinner (2004)
The big brands weren't the only culprits when it came to fugly sneakers in the early-2000s. Entering the twilight of his career, former NBA star Latrell Sprewell sent the sneaker world into a spin when he teamed up with streetwear label Damani Dada to release the Supreme Spinner signature. Featuring an adornment inspired by the 24-inch spinning rims seen frequently on Cadillac Escalades, the sneaker has developed somewhat of a cult following in recent times – due to cheer tackiness, we suspect!
Balenciaga Triple S (2017)
The chunkified dad-shoe era reached its zenith when luxury label Balenciaga unleashed the Triple S to the world. Demna Gvasalia’s ginormous creation went on to dominate runways and IG feeds, selling out at boutiques across the globe – despite its equally hefty $900+ price tag. It may have been a footwear flash in the pan, but the Triple S is a reminder of the ever-changing nature of the sneakersphere, and a prime example of when hype and high-fashion collide.
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