Six (Plus One) Sneaker Styles Everyone Needs in Their Rotation
Whether you’re new to the world of sneakers, or have been a sneakerhead since the 90s or earlier, there are some styles that are essential. To have a well-rounded and diverse rotation, one cannot simply wear just one style of sneaker. So, here are seven types of sneakers that everyone needs in their rotation.
To make this list as definitive and universal as possible, there are two conditions that must be met:
- These sneakers have to be readily available at retail, ideally all year round. This rules out colabs and limited edition releases.
- They also must be produced in both men’s and women’s sizes.
The Grandfather of Sneakers, aka the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star
At over 100 years old, the Converse Chuck Taylor can be considered a truly timeless shoe. They’ve been worn by just about everybody and are one of the few sneakers that actually pair well with anything. While it’s been a literal canvas for crazy variants and material themes, the core black/white colour always comes correct. They look just as good box fresh as they do beaten to a pulp. Where possible, always get the Chuck 70 variant as it's the more comfortable option.
Over time, leather athletic styles like the adidas Superstar and Stan Smith transitioned from the court to the streets, and the suede PUMA Clyde also joined the party. Inevitably, these ‘tennis shoes’ enjoy a cyclical wave of popularity every few years, but they have always been omnipresent. They’re sneakers that don’t discriminate: regular Joes and Joannes see them as a simple, clean sneaker to wear, while OG sneakerheads appreciate the heritage.
Modern Running Shoe
The ‘Dad Shoe’ fad may go away eventually (here’s hoping) but techy runners like New Balance 990s in grey are here to stay. For the newer generations, it may be some sort of ironic play into chunky athletic footwear, but America’s East Coast, particularly the DMV area, has been on the 990 for decades. For those not ready to commit to the aesthetic, the Nike Air Monarch or ASICS GEL-Kayano series offer solid alternatives.
Old School Basketball
Nike Air Force 1s. Say no more. It’s one of the Swoosh’s best-selling shoes ever. Introduced in the 80s, brought back in the early 90s, then propelled into stardom with Nelly’s blinged-out ode to the sneaker named in reference to the presidential plane. No one is expected to emulate Dame Dash, who allegedly only wore AF-1s once before tossing them, but try to keep them clean. White-on-whites are the default option, and a crispy pair will get anyone hooked.
Consider something like the Air Max 95. Why this model out of every 90s sneaker ever? It sits right in the middle of 90s sneaker style: hi-tech but looks retro at the same time. Old ‘heads will see it as a golden era sneaker, and newer generations should see the retro appeal of a slightly chunky, sporty sneaker. They’re also currently available on Nike iD, so add something to the rotation that no one else has.
Basically, any core style by Vans. Yes, the black and white Old Skool may be the default sneaker of choice for normies, but give the Classic Slip-On (CSO) a go. All the shoes on this list so far have laces. Some days, tying a knot is the last thing anyone wants to do. So, the elastic gussets of the CSO come as a blessing. Keep a checkerboard-patterned pair stashed away in case there is a ska-punk revival.
(Plus One) Beaters
When a sneaker from the above list gets too worn out, too dirty, or just no longer presentable, it becomes a beater. However, don’t consider this as a relegation: the beater is the most reliable sneaker in your rotation. They’re the old faithfuls that you know will do the job time and time again. Just make sure you stock up on a fresh pair of the above styles because, if you’re doing things right, all your shoes will inevitably become beaters.