The Nike Huarache and 5 of the Most Influential Sneakers Ever

  • Air Jordan 1
    Air Jordan I

    Before this sneaker came along, the vast majority of basketball shoes stuck to their black and white roots. Clyde Frazier‘s PUMA was really the only thing pushing the boundaries of what players could rock on their feet. When the “Banned” edition of the Jordan I dropped? It changed everything. Forever.

    Between the hype and where Michael Jordan‘s line eventually went, this has to be on any list about the most influential sneakers ever. It’s design was a radical response to all of the old giants (adidas, Converse) that refused to change.

    1 of 5
  • Nike Air Force 1
    Nike Air Force 1

    The best-selling silhouette ever, the Air Force I is a special shoe because of its versatility. In 1982, it was originally introduced as a bulky, high-top performance shoe that could be used on the court. Then later, when it grew out of fashion for ballplayers and the technology was passed over by more improvements, ironically, the shoe gained even more notoriety as a status symbol, a fashion icon. It still looms large over the younger generations today as a sneaker that is a must for any collection.

    Basically everything that’s dropped over the last 20 years or so tried to emulate this shoe in some way.

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  • Converse Chuck Taylor All Star
    Converse Chuck Taylor All Star

    This shoe’s history is similar to the AF1, the only difference being that this one came about 60 years beforehand. What started as a playing shoe eventually transitioned out of basketball and became something that anyone could wear at any time. Nowadays, you don’t see anyone wearing these on the court and yet everyone, from the 35-year-old single guy to the 14-year-old skater girl, wants to wear them. In terms of versatility, these might top everything that’s ever been released.

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  • adidas Superstar
    adidas Superstar

    The first basketball shoe to ever have an all-leather upper when it was released nearly 50 years ago as an offshoot of the Pro Model, this is the sneaker that officially leapfrogged the Chuck Taylor All Star to become one of basketball’s most important and widespread silhouettes. It is probably best known for its shell toe, something that not only had some performance benefits but also looked really slick too — especially once Run-D.M.C. took it to the mainstream.

    In this generation, no one is balling in this, but it’s still a favorite among hip-hop artists and hipsters.

    4 of 5
  • Air Jordan III
    Air Jordan III

    Another Tinker creation, you might’ve heard this by now if you’re a frequent follower of The Drop, but this is the sneaker that probably saved the line that later became the Jordan Brand.

    MJ was ready to leave Nike after the Air Jordan II wasn’t up to par, before Tinker came in and laced him with visible Air, as well as elephant print. The rest is history. A lot of sneakerheads still call these the best beaters of all time. That’s a big compliment. They are just so clean, so fashionable, so comfortable, so perfect.

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  • Air Jordan 1
  • Nike Air Force 1
  • Converse Chuck Taylor All Star
  • adidas Superstar
  • Air Jordan III

There aren’t too many sneakers that managed to change the game immediately. The Nike Huarache, however, was one of them. Releasing in 1991 and designed by the legend himself, Tinker Hatfield, the Huarache not only changed the way we feel in our sneakers, it also went on to dominate much of the inspiration behind Tinker’s later designs, including some fabled Air Jordans.

You have to understand the history behind this one. You know how we’ve been celebrating the Nike Roshe Run as a timeless shoe over the past two years? How it’s flipped the game on its head and how everyone loves it simply because it is simple? How it’s been stripped down to just the bare essentials? Well, the Huarache was all of that. It just came 21 years earlier. At 9.5 ounces, it truly was ahead of its time and had everyone asking, “Have you hugged your foot today?”

Inspired by a water-skiing bootie and, amazingly, Mayan sandals, this shoe made waves with its patented neoprene sock liner and its emphasis on tech rather than the branding. Tinker and his crew toned down the Nike aesthetics and turned up the look of the technology behind it and immediately it had everyone from sprinter Michael Johnson to Jerry Seinfeld on TV rocking them. The Nike Air Mowabb and the Air Jordan VII followed down the road, direct descendants of the Huarache takeover, and ever since then the shoe’s impact has been felt in everything from runners to trainers to basketball shoes.

In the end, it has to be considered one of the most impacting silhouettes ever created, and tomorrow at Champs Sports you’ll be able to cop a few new colorways of the Huarache. These particular shoes are simple and yet stylish enough that I think you’ll start seeing them everywhere this winter. Plus, because of its legacy you know sneakerheads are going to eat it up.

The Huarache is not the only shoe with a storied history. Here is The Nike Huarache and 5 of the Most Influential Sneakers Ever.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney