Ask someone 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.
Additional contribution by Grant Tillery.
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.
Puma Suede Classic
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.
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.
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star
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.
Adidas Samba Classic
Keds Champion Originals
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.
PF Flyers Sandlot Center Lo
PF Flyers gained popularity in the 1950s with its iconically chunky, rugged sneakers — which are still produced today, and with the same crowd-pleasing Posture Foundation insert that provides ample comfort and support.
Superga 2750 Cotu Classic
Italian shoemaker Superga has made the classic 2750 sneaker since 1911. After being perfected for over a century, this clean canvas sneaker is the epitome of affordable, lean luxe.
Reebok Classic Nylon
The ’80s never die with the shiny nylon on this classic Reebok. It’s tempered by soft suede, which balances out the two-toned body without losing the spirit of the revered and reviled decade.
Saucony Jazz Original
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.