Iconic Pop: The Greatest Boy Band Sneaker Moments
Boy bands tend to get a bad wrap in most social circles. Yes, sometimes they're music can be corny, but you still can't get it out of your head. Yes, with the benefit of hindsight, some of their outfits are cringeworthy. However, by definition, they're styled to be bang on-trend. And, after all, they are always precisely manufactured to appeal to the masses, so they try not to ruffle too many feathers.
Nowadays, they don't have quite the same stigma, as K-Pop takes the world by storm, and streetwear goes mainstream. So, you're more likely to see them stunting in Supreme than in no-name sneakers.
With so much change in the pop style landscape, we've taken a look back at what's been on the feet of our favourite boy bands over the years.
Quit Playing Games with My Kicks
The Backstreet Boys were the quintessential 90s boy band. With their over-sized shirts, choreographed moves, and earworm-level bangers, Brian, Nick, AJ, Kevin and Howie D fitted the mould perfectly.
Back in the day you would more likely see them in matching white leather dress shoes than sneakers, but they did have their moments. Keep a keen eye on Brian in the 'As Long As You Love Me' video, and you'll see him careening around in the Nike Foamposite 'Royal'.
These days, the boys have left their cookie-cutter boy band personas in the past and, four or five comebacks later, they've developed some middle-age cool. AJ always had the most street cred, and he definitely has the best rotation now. Whether he's busting moves in 'Black Toes', strutting in 'White Cements', or boogieing down in Bape NMDs, he brings some much needed drip to the mid-40s crooners.
Cop the Feelin’
Like all the best 90s groups, 5ive were catapulted to fame by an enterprising exec who saw a gap in the market – in this case it was a post-Spice-Girls-pre-American-Idol Simon Cowell). Britain’s answer to BSB, they were the bad boy antidote to saccharine hits like ‘All I Have to Give’ and ‘I Want It That Way’. Couldn’t you tell? Two of them rapped, and one even had an eyebrow ring.
In terms of sneakers, England in the 90s was all about Air. And 5ive’s A&R men followed suit. Whether Richie was slam dunking the funk in Air Max Metal, Abz was turning the lights out in Air Max 120s, or shooting his shot in ‘Team Orange’ Air Max 98s, they brought that special boy band steez to the other side of the pond.
Buy Buy Buy
We know 2019-JT is a sneaker tragic, but what was he like back in the *NSYNC days? Sure, most of the time they stuck to their bootcut jean and chisel-toe leather shoe combo, but they did flash some gems every once in a while. Most notably, Joey Fatone and co went matchy-matchy and rocked the Air Jordan 14 'Indiglo' in the 'Bye, Bye, Bye' film clip.
Of course, these days it's all about Justin, and he doesn't waste any time busting out the bangers and stunting in his latest Jays.
Sneakers and Cream
Probably most famous for getting thousands of people to clap their hands to show that they’re sexy, 112 knew what was up when it came to sneakers.
Their 2001 tune ‘It’s Over Now’ saw them all rocking the patent-swathed, icy-soled goodness of the Air Jordan 11 Low. And nearly 20 years later, they still look killer.
The West may only now be opening its eyes to the K-Pop phenomenon, but it’s been big news in Asia for years. From pop star boot camps to fandoms akin to Beatlemania, the K-Pop industry hones its stars made-to-order.
And former Big Bang member turned solo star G-Dragon is about as big as it gets, and pretty much single-handedly revived a Vans classic. Partial to a Jazz Stripe, the Korean superstar was rarely seen without a pair of Old Skools or Style 36s, so much so that Marshmallow/Red 36s were dubbed G-Dragon shoes (and demanded hefty resell prices for a good long while there).
Oh, and that fold-the-back-of-your-Vans-down thing – that was him too.
Blood, Sweat and Sneakers
If you’ve been paying any attention of late, you’d know that BTS are taking K-Pop global.
They were the most mentioned celebrities on Twitter in 2017 and 2018, their chart success is second only to Drake, and in 2018 the Hyundai Economic Research Institute named them as one of seven positive influences in the Korean economy. This is superstardom on a whole different level.
With their coiffed boy band image to uphold, and cash to spend, it’s no surprise that they’re often rocking Supreme Uptempos and the like, but the icing on their sartorial cake is locking down a PUMA Basket colab and signing on as global Big Cat brand ambassadors. There’s no doubt about it: BTS are taking over the world.