ARTICLE BY Boon Mark Souphanh

The All-Time Greatest Beater Sneakers

Beat up Air Jordan 1s
via Rob Mata/Nice Kicks

Being a sneakerhead can be contradictory at times. On one hand, we see sneakers as art – something more than just a shoe. On the other hand, we also stress that sneakers are meant to be worn, not just admired as ornaments. This juxtaposition has led to the emergence of the ritual rotation filler otherwise known as a ‘beater’.

Coveted creps are special, we know that better than anyone. However, classic knockabout sneakers have managed to carve an idiosyncratic place in our hearts, and on our feet. Some silhouettes are perennial crowd-pleasers that never break the bank, while others have outgrown their humble origins to become Grails.

Wear ‘em and tear ‘em! Here are the all-time greatest beater sneakers!

Converse's Canvas ClassicsConverse's Canvas Classics

To many, the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star is the greatest sneaker on earth. However, for most, it encapsulates the everyday canvas sneaker.

Just like its badminton-court cousin the Jack Purcell, Chucks as they are affectionately known, are the sneakerspheres ultimate chameleon. Created during the formative years of basketball, the sneaker has evolved over the last 100 years, worn by Harlem Globetrotters in the 1950s, California’s ‘beach boys’ of the 1960s, and modern-day streetwear icons like Virgil Abloh and Tyler, The Creator – stalwarts of contemporary cool. Not to mentioned just about all of us, too!

Chucks will always be the All Star when it comes to beater sneakers.

converse all-star old

Off The Wall, On Our Feet Off The Wall, On Our Feet

From one canvas connoisseur to another, Vans have embraced a similar design ethos to Converse, creating some of most iconic, beloved skate silhouettes we’ve ever seen. Beaten up everywhere from local skate spots to seedy nightclubs, sneakers like the Old Skool and Classic Slip-On embody a distinct laissez-faire attitude, while also being adaptable to any sartorial situation – well, almost any.

We all know someone who rocks their old pair of Vans so often it’s almost like an extension of their being. Once you’ve worn them in, they certainly feel that way, that’s for sure. 

,vans dirty on foot
via Unsplashed

A Spent Force A Spent Force

Perhaps a controversial choice on the list, the iconic Nike Air Force 1 has versatility rivalled by few in the sneakersphere. That said, how heads have rocked their Uptowns over the years has been varied to say the least.

When DS, theres arguably nothing that looks cleaner than a fresh pair of AF-1s, especially if theyre all-white. So, understandably, many try to keep their pairs in pristine condition. Dr. Dre has an entire closet full of white AF-1s for this very reason. On that other hand, however, many choose to wear the s*** outta their pairs – to the point where the sneaker has become meme-worthy.

We’re not here to judge you on how you want to rock your kicks, but one thing’s for sure: the Air Force 1 looks killer, no matter how new or old they are.

air force 1 on foot
via @nike_airr

Team Cosy Forever Team Cosy Forever

Lets rewind slightly to a bizarre time in sneaker history, one where the Three Stripes’ bounce-blessed BOOST soles reigned supreme. A time where OG heads sold off their Jays to fund the latest UltraBOOSTs and NMDs... Hard to believe this was less than five years ago.

Well, the #boostvibes era did happen for a reason – and it wasn’t just because Kanye wore ‘em. BOOST is comfy AF, and that can’t be disputed. The game-changing tech was originally designed for pavement pounding, but became one of the most prominent street-style silhouettes we’ve ever seen.

The soles may have yellowed on many of our pairs, and the collaborations might be drying up, but the UltraBOOST continues to provide lightweight, low-key bounce to countless sneakerheads across the globe.

dirty ultraboost adidas
via Reshoevn8r

From Beater to HeaterFrom Beater to Heater

It may be one of most coveted creps nowadays, but that wasn’t always the case for Michael Jordan’s first signature sneaker: the Air Jordan 1.

Hard to fathom for modern hype fiends, the AJ1 used to be one of the most readily-available sneakers on the market back in the 80s when it debuted. This made it a favourite among ballers, casual sneaker wearers and, notoriously, skateboarders. The toe box and sidewalls made ollieing and flick tricks a breeze, while the leather was rugged enough to withstand hours of thrashing. Its availability, affordability, and skateability made it a staple for riding the maple, famously worn by many of the sport’s pioneers.

While Nike SB have collaborated with Jordan Brand on wear-away AJ1s harking back to that storied era of skating, it’s unlikely you’ll find anyone at your local skate park carving up a collaboration.

The crease police may disagree, but there’s definitely something special about a beat up pair of 1s.

air jordan 1 banned on foot
via Rob Mata/Nice Kicks
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