The 12 best shoes of the 90s

We've already established the 90s style icons you were totally going to dress like and your favorite t-shirts of that same decade, so just like an adidas Superstar— reliable, yet slightly ubiquitous— here's another prodigious shovel-full of that sweet, sweet '90s nostalgia you so crave with our latest rundown: the best '90s shoes.

90's style icons you were totally going to dress just like

Reebok Pumps

For some ludicrous reason, your parents spent, like, $100 on a pair of pump-able sneakers when, a) you could barely clear a 6' vertical leap, b) you'd grow out of them in 4-5 months, and c) every time you pumped them up, a Footlocker would be destroyed


35 million pairs of these indoor soccer training shoes have been sold worldwide, which makes sense because all the athletic bros wore them every day whether they actually played soccer or not.


Before Kenny Powers owned 51% of K-Swiss stock, the Cali company’s kicks could be seen on jabronis with a penchant for wrist/head/ankle sweatbands and playing basketball in khaki cargo shorts.


These were pretty chill back before they ended up on every shelf at Payless. The skate rat persona they helped you project was necessary— no one knew you owned Curly Sue on VHS and rewatched it bi-weekly, and you intended to keep it that way.


They’re actually having a pretty big moment right now, but no way comparable to when they reigned supreme in the early 90s and shoed thousands of crunchy Hootie & the Blowfish fans, you know, before Hootie got all weird, became a cowboy, and changed his name to "Darius". 


If you can remember, there was a time way back when, before all this Shape-Up bullsh*t, that these kicks were marketed equally to men and women with help from all the hot tweenager celebs. You probably bought a couple pairs of them right alongside a value pack of Wite-out and a pencil box while back-to-school shopping with your mom at Target because these hijacked designs were always under some kind of two-for-one deal. Stay thirsty, Skechers.

adidas Superstar

Aptly nicknamed the "shellltoe," or "shell shoes", because they were worn chiefly by prebrobecents who rocked puka necklaces, frosted tips, hemp anklets, and mediocre hacky sack skills. 


Also known as “brothel creepers” because ex-soldiers after WWII would wear these crepe-soled shoes to haunt London nightspots, their 90s legacy is a little more “Hot Topic goth kid” than their origin suggests.

LA Lights

These light up sneaks debuted in 1992 and went on to be heavily endorsed by a slew of celebrities including, but not limited to, NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Joe Montana, Wayne Gretzky, and Paula Abdul (obviously). Fat Andy, who always wore his sweatpants over his jeans to gym class because he didn’t like to change, loved them but mostly because his mom wouldn’t spring for the $150 Pumps. Sometimes you wonder what ever happened to that guy...

Doc Marten

Invented by German doctor Klaus Martens during World War II, the yellow-stitched stompers get their "fu*k authority" authority from their roots in the punk and mod skinhead cultures of the 50s. Their popularity amongst reality biting fine art majors grew with the grunge scene and has remained synonymous with nonconformist conformism since.

adidas Slide Sandals

These famous three-striped sandals were first developed in 1963 in response to a demand for a locker room shoe. Allegedly the plastic nubs that line the bottom of the “Santiossage” style are meant to massage after-sport foot aches. They don’t, but you definitely convinced yourself that the hundreds of little red pockmarks on the soles of your feet were therapeutic. Changing out of your cleats into some flops and socks before heading home to watch Global Guts was the best part of your JV soccer season. 


Never as much fun as you anticipated, but the commercials are an ace.