No matter what the industry, over time certain styles and brands stick around. Be it the popularity of the product, its groundbreaking innovation, or alluring design, certain benchmark products become so ubiquitous as a representation of the brand as a whole that they become timeless in nature. Sneakers are no different. In fact, sneakers are a defining example of this phenomenon; representing not only a time period but recalling a unique individual story for the nostalgic wearer. As a vehicle in and of themselves, classic sneakers transport us back in time to different eras, when life was easier, the wife was just a girlfriend, and a gallon of gas didn’t cost more than a gallon of milk.
That’s the beauty of the sneaker. No matter what, these partners in crime stuck with us through thick and thin; the good times and the bad. They weren’t there to judge, just to make sure we made it to our destination in style: our buddies, compadres, comrades. Whatever you want to call them we get it, because we’ve been there too. That’s why we scoured both our memories and the internet to present you with the 20 best classic sneakers for men. So go ahead, bust out the flannel and acid-washed jeans and take a stroll down memory lane.
Vans Authentic Canvas Skateboard Sneakers
Vans took off as the essential sneaker of the surf and skate culture in ‘60s Southern California, elevating through the Dogtown years. Within this scene, the name “Authentic” say it all, and their simple, stylish, and effective design has kept pace for generations. Why change what works?
Adidas Samba Classic
For decades the Adidas Samba has stuck to its guns in design for these classic shoes. I mean it’s kind of hard to tamper with perfection. Each shoe features a soft leather upper and a low-profile gum rubber outsole to give the indoor player precise control over their movement.
Keds offers classic tennis shoes for fans both on and off the court. It’s a canvas sneaker with a cool, clean, and crisp style supporting the notion of necessity for anyone looking to enhance their wardrobe. The Champion has a lightweight canvas super, treaded outsole, and removable cushioned footbed for additional comfort.
Adidas Superstar II
Since the ‘70s, the Adidas Superstar shoe has been recognized as the supreme ruler of the sneaker world. Here’s a true tribute to this legacy in a full grain leather upper, serrated 3-stripes, and authentic rubber shell toe. The Superstar II is full of old school charm and will certainly bring back some valuable memories of days past.
Since 1968 PUMA Suede’s have delivered old-school looks and functionality. The smooth suede, offering streetwise style, helped define these kicks as PUMA’s most admired icon of their sports-inspired design. The cushioned midsole also provides plenty of comfort while the lace-up closure ensures a secure fit no matter what.
Saucony Jazz Original
The Jazz Original is the classic retro running shoe for the quality athlete of all ages. A design that was first solidified in 1981, they remain relevant in the sneaker world thanks to their throwback appearance. There’s a comfort-contoured EVA midsole adding superior wearability to its stylish nylon and suede design.
PF Flyers Center Hi
PF Flyers are an authentic classic – and favorite of any Sandlot fan. Boasting a true 1950s design, these retro sneakers marry high-quality craftsmanship with classic materials. Featuring a breathable upper, toe bumper, lace-up front and diamond patterned sole, the classic sneaker contributes a causal look to any weekend R&R.
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Classic
This list wouldn’t be complete without the Chuck Taylor All Star. Arguably the most iconic sneaker in the world, they’re recognized all over for their shape, style, and cultural relevance. They’ve been worn by all matter of individuals from rebels to rockers to rappers. It’s a timeless shoe that’s certainly here to stay.
Converse Chuck Taylor Hi Monochrome
It’s probably the only silhouette that deserves a spot on this for both the low-top and hi-top version. For those who enjoy all black everything here’s a good-looking take on the All Star Hi-Top. These kicks fit into whatever the occasion may be and look good in the process. They’re 100 percent authentic with a rubber outsole and feature a canvas upper for durability and comfort no matter where you wear them.
Tretorn borrows the classic tennis style from decades prior and adds bicycle tow stitches along with their Gullwing logo in these throwback sneakers. As always, they’re canvas with a rubber sole and EcoOrthoLite insole, keeping things simple in their design and presentation.
Vans Old Skool
These are the original shoes from the bygone era of the skating counterculture. They were the first to host the iconic side stripe and have a low-top lace-up silhouette with a durable suede and canvas upper mated to a padded tongue. They’re a timeless sneaker for any nostalgic individual, and you can expect them to stay relevant for years to come.
In a rebellious, innuendo fashion that only Vans could pull off, the SK8-Hi legendary lace-up high top was inspired by the classic Old Skool from the era. They feature a durable canvas and suede upper with a supportive and padded ankle, because of course they are made for skating. You’ll also notice the original Vans vulcanized signature Waffle Outsole.
Adidas Stan Smith
Throw it back all the way to 1972 with these classic low tops. Named after the famous tennis player Stan Smith, these are on of the few Adidas silhouettes that doesn’t feature the classic 3-stripe branding. They do, however, feature the original, artful leather build with a low-profile capsule and clean trim. They’re the shoe that’s been the hallmark of the Adidas franchise for decades now – and it’s remained mostly unchanged to this day.
New Balance 574
The 574s represent a pastime for a multitude of runners from over the years. These classic models feature a suede and mesh upper offering a premium look and ENCAP middle for additional support during those longer treks. And thanks to their original look, they’ll get you where you’re going in retro style.
Nike Cortez Leather
Released in 1972, the Cortez was the first track shoe produced by the sneaker outfit. Their later success indeed set Nike up for its later global success in the sneaker industry. Even today they carry along a hip vibe and comfortable fit thanks to their low-cut collar and traditional lacing.
Seavees Hermosa Standard
Originally conceived using excess BF Goodrich rubber (alongside Jack Purcell’s and PF Flyers), this ’60s Southern California sneaker was defunct for nearly a half century before being revived in the mid-2000’s. Back in the day, they were a favorite wear for skaters in the SoCal scene and even hosted several skateboard contests in Hermosa Beach. They feature a classic style and fit with Navy textured linen uppers and a vintage wash finish.
Onitsuka Tiger Asics California 78 Vintage
These Onitsuka Tiger Vintage sneakers scream classic ‘70s California style. Each pair hosts a soft nylon upper with suede inserts for comfort and durability while a padded collar contributes to a comfortable and snug fit for both runners and athletes. There’s also a reflective strip for visibility in low light conditions.
Converse ‘Jack Purcell’
More than likely, this is what your grandfather’s favorite pair of athletic shoes looked like from the ‘30s. Designed by famous badminton player Jack Purcell for BF Goodrich in 1935 (utilizing the brand’s rubber), the trademark was later sold to Converse in the 70s. They’re the classic Converse style, updated with a removable cushioned insole, and the iconic “smiley” toe cap. Running long and narrow, the ‘Jacks’ stay true to the familiar Converse fit, and look smooth in the process.
Nike Blazer Hi Suede
Talk about a basketball shoe that’s lasted over the years. Here’s a classic athletic shoe with plush suede adorning a mid-top profile that rehashes the loved throwback style and built to last. While they’re more likely to be found in the concrete jungle than your local gym, the rubber outsole with herringbone patterns provide durability and traction both off and on the court.
Nike Air Max 1
The year was 1987 when Nike first introduced this shoe with visible air within its heel, giving fans a more visible representation of the classic Air-Sole comfort. It set the stage for the later generation Air Max 90, a hit for athletes and collectors alike, and many more Air Max releases since.