You can sift through garage sales and ebay for your the sneakers you wanted when a new pair of sneakers really mattered to you (say, age 14?), but old kicks, even new old stock, are never totally satisfying because sneakers were designed to be disposable: the glue yellows and crumbles, rubber cracks, leather dries out. At best, you can wistfully admire an old pair of Jordans—you certainly can’t wear them for any length of time. Fortunately, shoe companies know you pine for the days when you saved your pennies for new sneakers and regularly revisit old designs; sometimes they get it right, sometimes they don’t. Here’s five models, either true to the originals or updated interestingly, I think are worth your consideration.
1. Vans for J. Crew Sk8-hi ($75 at J. Crew): In my last sneaker roundup I included an wall-white sk8-hi; this black suede on cream version is less a throwback to the Bones Brigade days and more a nod to the 2010s obsession with minimal colors and designs.
2. Brooks Vanguard ($59 at Gilt): Brooks has kept its rep as a serious, innovative running shoe company and only recently started bringing back the 70s designs that helped fuel the fitness craze of that era. I like the simple design and runner’s toe (where the tread wraps up around the front of the shoe).
3. Reebok Ex o Fit ($74.99 at Reebok): Reebok was off my radar for awhile (I mostly associate it with Pumps and Double Dare) but last year’s limited Sand.W.Man Ex-o-Fit design and their Palace models piqued my interest. Those were >$100 and are no longer available, but these gum-soled, wheat Ex-o-Fits will do nicely.
4. Adidas Rod Laver vintage ($80 at Norse Store): Like Stan Smiths but think they’re just too busy, designwise? The Rod Laver vintage is for you. Adidas seems to bring this back every couple of years along with the more modern Rod Laver (which I also like—but much chunkier than this version).
5. eS SLB 23 ($73 at Skate Park of Tampa): Yes, the mid 1990s are now distant enough to be vintage. The modern version of these skate shoes are a little trimmer than the originals, but keep the RL Polo-inspired tongue label and rubber “ollie pad” (where skate shoes wear down the fastest from furious, fruitless attempts to ollie over fire hydrants, etc.).