There is a wide range of consumers when it comes to sneakers. Some people may only own a single pair and then there has long been a class of diehard “sneakerheads” who boast impressive collections of the latest, greatest and rarest editions.
Most of us fall somewhere in the middle, but this style of footwear once reserved for athletics has only been booming in popularity in recent years.
If you’re looking to add more options to your sneaker collection, but you’re not sure where to start, here is a quick breakdown of the differences between tennis shoes, running shoes, classics and other styles.
As the name implies, tennis shoes were designed for tennis. These days, though, it’s more of a generic name for all sneakers. There are some actual tennis shoes that have become common for everyday wear, like the Adidas Stan Smiths. Of all the shoe silhouettes that exist, few are more well known and respected than these classics.
The Stan Smiths are far from alone. They join other purpose-built sneakers that have made the transition from sports equipment to daily fashion. These include the Adidas Superstar, Converse Chuck Taylors, Nike Air Jordan, Saucony Shadow Original and Nike Air Max.
Then, of course, there is are the Nike Air Force 1s. These all-time classics have been so popular in streetwear from the very start. Eventually, they became known as “Uptowns” in New York. This was due to just how many people in Harlem wore them every day. Also, it refers to the direction you had to travel to find stores with the latest releases.
Some people do use the term “running shoe” for any sneaker. However, modern versions represent a different class and usually feature the most cutting-edge shoe technology that exists. There are the classics, like the Nike Cortez, but today we’re more talking about a space race for the most innovation — something Nike pushed so far that its Vaporfly model was initially banned in sanctioned competition.
There are crossovers as well. Kanye West helped popularize the now-iconic Adidas Ultraboosts in the mid-2010s. Thus, the trend was born for making comfortable, performance running shoes into lifestyle wear. Many styles, like the Nike Air VaporMax, can now be seen in casual situations as often as they are on the track.
Some sneakers naturally don’t fit into any of these categories. They may not have been designed specifically for a sport, like walking shoes, or they may have been built for any sport, like cross-trainers. Some companies, like New Balance, ostensibly make running shoes, but they are mostly just for day-to-day comfort, like the company’s 574s.
Then there are fashion sneakers. High-end luxury brands, like Gucci, make their own sneakers that really aren’t for athletics, as do mass-market companies, like Steve Madden. At the end of the day, many of these are unclassifiable in any sports-based sense. Moreover, the designs just keep changing year by year with the trends.
Picking the Best Sneakers for You
We all love sneakers and are drawn to different styles. Ultimately, most of it just comes down to personal preference and how they fit on our feet. Whichever you chose, there is really only one rule: wear them with confidence and always enjoy what you put on your feet.