Ask a person on the street to name the first sneaker brands that come to mind and they’ll start somewhere around Adidas and end near Nike. These brands, while classic and iconic, can often run you over a hundred dollars for their kicks (see: Kanye’s $844 version of the Adidas 350). If you have a thing for exorbitantly priced shoes, keeping them pristine, and collecting/selling them, we salute you. But there’s also a handful of classic alternatives that won’t have you dropping a full paycheck to purchase. These shoes can be had for less than your international roaming charges — $60, tops. And they’re essentials for a reason: despite updates and new colorways, the originals remain in high demand. Grab one, two or three.
Best Croc Alternative: Native’s modern, eclectic shoe offerings somehow also manage to be wearable in their modern fabrics and plentiful colorways. If someone took the classic Jack Purcell, perforated and waterproofed it, this is what it would look like.
Best Summer Shoe: When the Vans Authentic was born in 1966, 12 customers bought them directly from the factory. They became popular within the SoCal skate scene in the 1970s and are now almost synonymous with skate culture. In white, they’re our favorite summer sneaker.
Keds Champion Originals
Best “First”: Keds are about to turn 100. And while they weren’t America’s first sneaker, they were one of the first rubber-soled shoes to carry the name “sneakers”. As with Vans Authentics and Chucks, it’s hard to imagine this silhouette and white colorway going out of style.
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star
Best Original: Converse named their rubber, high-top basketball sneaker the “All Star” in 1920 . Almost 100 years later, people are still wearing these sneakers. They may have recently received a modern (and more expensive) update, but the originals will always be on our list of favorites.
Puma Suede Classic
Best Euro-Luxe for Less: Puma began as a small shoe factory started by two brothers in 1924, and had its first big success providing sneakers to the 1928 Olympic athletes. These classics — with a hint of luxury in the form of suede — are the perfect understated-yet-elevated footwear companion.
Adidas Samba Classic
Best for Pickup Soccer: Bavaria-born Adidas “started in a wash room and conquered the world”. These iconic sneakers are the standard for indoor soccer, and have been since the 1940s. They also go great with a pair of jeans.
Onitsuka Tiger Machu Racer
Best Track Sneaker: Japanese brand Onitsuka, the forerunner of ASICS, has been around since 1949. These low-laying, track-style beauties are light, clean and available in colorways for all wardrobes.
Best ’80s Throwback: Since 1914, Brooks has been making shoes with a focus on fine-tuning sneakers to the specific orthopedic needs of its runners. In 1982, the Chariot was born, utilizing DRB technology to help the runner’s control.
Saucony Jazz Original
Best Performance Meets Style: Saucony has been around since 1898 and was named after the creek on which the factory resided. Saucony’s self-proclaimed “signature silhouette”, the Jazz, was designed in 1981 and still popular today. It’s comfortable enough for everyday wear, but also well suited for activities like hiking.
Best Luxe Sneaker for Less: Gone are the round-toe Air Force I days — here are the pointed-toe, high-sole days. GREATS’ Bab looks like any number of expensive running shoes, but it isn’t marred with any branding.