Most Expensive Classic Sneakers Are Still Popular
Sneakers aren't just comfortable pairs of shoes. They are part of a lifestyle, an organized subculture where who you are is expressed by what you have on your feet.
This sneakerhead culture exists throughout the planet, as evidenced by the high prices people from Argentina to India are willing to pay for their kicks.
These are the most expensive classic sneakers, ranked by their highest global price, and they all are still extremely popular around the world.
Bottom Line: Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars
For over a century, Converse has managed to stay in the style game, generation after generation.
Its first celebrity sneaker is the classic Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Chuck Taylor was a famous basketball player who went around the country promoting Converse as the perfect sports shoe. In fact, the sneaker was the shoe of choice for many athletes until the 1970s, when it was dethroned by shoes with better arch support and cushion.
As we all know, that was far from the end of Converse, which quickly pivoted to be the sneaker of the youth around the world. Its relative affordability, timeless look and highly collectible nature make it a classic sneaker that has withstood the winds of time.
Converse Used to Be the Official Basketball Shoe of the Olympics
For more than 30 years, all Olympic basketball players wore Converse. During World War II, the shoes also became the U.S. armed force's official shoe for athletics.
Athlete Who Loves Converse: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard has a deal with Converse and is constantly seen promoting the sneakers on and off court.
6. Puma Suede
Price in the U.S.: $70
Highest price worldwide: $111.69, Denmark
Year debuted: 1968
Bottom Line: Puma Suede
Remember how we said Converse got displaced by newcomers around the 1970s? Well, one of these newcomers was the Puma Suede, which was then known as the Crack.
The shoe was debuted in the 1968 Mexican Olympics, being used by track runners as well as basketball players.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Puma cemented its status as a classic sneaker when it was eagerly adopted by B-boy crews, hip-hop artists and skateboarders.
The sneaker company claims it uses suede to be able to more easily dye the shoes, thus producing the countless variations that make the model a coveted collector's item.
Walt 'Clyde' Frazier Was Puma's First Big Celebrity Endorser
Hall of Fame basketball player Walt Frazier is a big reason for the Suede's wide array of colors. That's because "Clyde" reportedly wanted to use different colored shoes in every game of his NBA career.
It is said that Frazier sported around 390 different colors during his contract with Puma.
Athlete Who Loves Puma: Usain Bolt
Widely considered the fastest man alive, Usain Bolt signed with Puma when he was only 16 years old, before he started breaking records mere mortals can only hope approach, if not defeat.
5. Adidas Superstar
Price in the U.S.: $85
Highest price worldwide: $147.15, India
Year debuted: 1969
Bottom Line: Adidas Superstar
Another newcomer that dethroned Converse as a basketball shoe was the Adidas Superstar.
Made as a sports shoe, the sneaker was adopted by hip-hop culture during the 1970s, which then made it cool for mainstream youth culture.
Fifty years later, the Adidas Superstar still dominates global fashion as one of the most popular classic sneakers.
In 1971's Famous Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier Fight, Both Boxers Wore Adidas
Muhammad Ali, arguably the most famous boxer of all time, had his first loss as a professional fighter in 1971, when he got in the ring with Joe Frazier.
Touted as the "Fight of the Century," the bout was watched by a record 300 million people worldwide on closed-circuit and free television, which was great news for Adidas, since both Ali and Frazier wore the brand's shoes during the event.
Athlete Who Loves Adidas: Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi is one of the best soccer players in the world. Wherever Messi goes, athletes and crowds follow.
Though he doesn't use the classic Adidas Superstar during games, Messi does have his own line of soccer shoes with Adidas.
4. Adidas Stan Smith
Price in the U.S.: $85
Highest price worldwide: $178.07, Argentina
Year debuted: 1965
Bottom Line: Adidas Stan Smith
Before the Adidas Superstar, there was the Adidas Stan Smith, or the Adidas Robert Haillet, as it was first known, named after a French tennis pro. The name was changed after Haillet retired in 1971.
Released in 1965, the now-classic sneaker was the first leather tennis shoe ever, a distinction that helped propel it to almost instant fame. Named after American tennis player Stan Smith, the shoes sometimes feature Smith's face on the tongue.
Their most distinctive feature, however, is the lack of the signature three stripes that mark Adidas as a brand. Instead, the stripes are replaced by three perforated lines.
Adidas Stan Smith Broke a Guinness World Record
Stan Smiths are one of the best-selling sneakers of all time. And in 1988, it was the best-selling tennis shoe of the year, making the "Guinness Book of World Records" after it sold an astonishing 22 million pairs.
Even more impressively, the kick's sales have gone up since then.
Athlete Who Loves Adidas: Von Miller
NFL outside linebacker Von Miller can often be seen sporting Adidas from head to toe during games.
3. Nike Air Jordans I
Price in the U.S.: $90
Highest price worldwide: $187.65, Argentina
Year debuted: 1985
Bottom Line: Nike Air Jordans I
Today, a celebrity-branded sneaker is the norm, but back in 1985, Nike's idea to make a shoe model just for Michael Jordan was revolutionary. In fact, the idea is what convinced Jordan to sign with Nike instead of Adidas.
The company expected to sell around 100,000 pairs in the year it debuted. Instead, it sold more than four million pairs. Jordan's illustrious career only cemented the now-classic kicks as a must-have item for any sneakerhead.
Given their success and legendary status, the model continues to be retroed, constantly selling at high prices, even in the secondhand market.
Michael Jordan Wore the Shoes in His Final Game at Madison Square Garden With the Chicago Bulls
Michael Jordan made the Chicago Bulls so famous, even people who aren't into sports recognized the team.
In 1998, Jordan played his last game with the team at Madison Square Garden. For this very special occasion he — to no one's surprise — wore an original pair of his signature Nike Air Jordans 1.
Athlete Who Loves Nike Air Jordans: Kylian Mbape
French soccer player Kylian Mbape is often seen with "Jumpman" gear. The Jumpman logo was created for the Nike Air Jordan brand using Michael Jordan's silhouette.
2. New Balance 574
Price in the U.S.: $79.99
Highest price worldwide: $188.03, Russia
Year debuted: 1988
Bottom Line: New Balance 574
A relative newcomer in the world of classic sneakers, the New Balance 574 broke out in 1988, when many of its competitors had already been established for years.
Unlike most of the sneakers listed here, the New Balance model was not originally a basketball shoe, but rather a running one. During the '80s and '90s, chunkier, non-flat shoes were in style, which helped the model quickly migrate to a must-have streetwear item.
New Balance 574 Was Originally Marketed as an Economic Sneaker
When it was first released, the New Balance 574 was meant to provide an economic and accessible option for runners who couldn't spend three figures on running shoes.
Retailing at around $80 in the United States, they continue to provide nonprofessional runners a good workout shoe that is less expensive than many of its counterparts.
Athlete Who Loves New Balance: Stephanie Twell
New Balance officially sponsors Stephanie Twell. The Olympic athlete uses the brand in both her training sessions and in pro races.
1. Nike Air Force 1
Price in the U.S.: $90
Highest price worldwide: $204.26, Argentina
Year debuted: 1982
Bottom Line: Nike Air Force 1
Nike Air Force 1s are largely credited for bringing Nike into the basketball shoe scene. Before then, the brand was relatively unknown in the national athletic sneaker scene. This seems ironic considering how popular the brand is now with both athletes and non-athletes.
In 2002, rapper Nelly released a song titled "Air Force Ones," and he is far from the only singer to mention the kicks in a song. Though the model has gone in and out of style since its release, it has always remained one of the most iconic classic sneakers in history.
The Air Force 1s Were Discontinued in 1984
In 1984, two years after their release, the Nike Air Force 1s were discontinued. Fans of the shoe, however, were not happy, putting pressure on the company to bring the beloved model back.
In 1985, Nike tested the waters by re-releasing the Air Force ones only in three stores in Baltimore. It took only a couple of days for the 3,000 pairs to be sold, convincing Nike to bring back the shoe for good and giving Baltimore the right to say it was the city that saved the Air Force 1s.
Athlete Who Loves Nike: Naomi Osaka
Professional tennis player Naomi Osaka is signed with Nike.
In the 2021 summer Olympics in Tokyo, she wore Nike Air Force 1s as she carried the torch at the opening ceremony.