The Must-Have Sneakers Kids Of The ’80s Will Remember

KangaRoos Sneakers
KangaRoos sneakers, complete with pockets.
Courtesy of Shane + Shawn.

Girls of the ’90s had to have platform sneakers à la The Spice Girls, and boys of the ’90s queued up for LA Gear’s light-up kicks. So what was the sneaker community doing in the ’80s — before the girl-power pop-music revolution and electronic-sneaker technology? They went with what kids these days refer to as “old school.”

The irony is that at the height of these shoes’ popularity in the ’80s, there was nothing “old school” about them. They were the latest, greatest must-have kicks that the youth at the time begged their parents to buy for them — unlike today, when limited-edition retro styles often spark as much frenzy as their latest-release counterparts.

So in the interest of reminiscing about all things the early millennial generation embraced, Footwear News‘ Anna-Lisa Yabsley and Peter Verry have rounded up their picks of the most-sought-after sneakers from the decade. Move aside, big hair, scrunchies, colored mascara and power shoulders — these are the kicks any kid of the ’80s had to have.

AY: Adidas Superstar
I’m pretty sure we can thank Run D.M.C.’s 1986 track, “My Adidas,” for this one. You all wanted them, and most of you purchased them. And they are still one of the most popular sneaker silhouettes to this day.

Original Adidas Superstar sneakers Original Adidas Superstar sneakers. Courtesy of brand.

AY: Keds
Maybe it’s just be me, but when I think “Keds,” I think “Dirty Dancing.” Nobody puts Baby in the corner, and why should they when she so perfectly wears these white laceup sneakers? Female fans of the film most likely thought wearing the shoes would bring them closer to Johnny. While they regrettably didn’t (breaking hearts everywhere), that certainly didn’t slow down sales.

Iconic 80s shoes Baby (Jennifer Grey) dancing in Keds sneakers in “Dirty Dancing.” Facebook/Courtesy of brand.

AY: KangaRoos
Who needs pockets on shoes? Forget carrying a handbag or wearing cargo pants — just get yourself a pair of KangaRoos sneakers. The two-in-one shoe was a hit in the ’80s — kids loved the signature side pocket, though we’re still not entirely sure what they used it for.

KangaRoos Sneakers KangaRoos sneakers — complete with pockets. Courtesy of Shane + Shawn.

PV: Air Jordan
Although the buzz around any Air Jordan release today is palpable, the fanatical behavior surrounding the shoes started in the ’80s. The decade saw four Air Jordan releases, which still fill the closets of sneakerheads today.

Air Jordan 1 sneakers. Air Jordan 1 sneakers. Courtesy of brand.

PV: New Balance 1300
The lifestyle runners of today were the performance runners of the past. That sentiment rings true with the New Balance 1300, which launched the brand’s premium performance 1000 Series, featuring its ENCAP technology for durability and shock dispersion.

New Balance 1300 sneakers. New Balance 1300 sneakers. Courtesy of brand.

PV: Saucony Jazz
Although the brand was founded in 1898, arguably its most popular silhouette was a product of the ’80s: the Jazz. The shoe was aesthetically pleasing then and now — the silhouette is sought after by boutique retailers for collaborations.

Saucony Jazz sneakers Saucony Jazz sneakers. Courtesy of brand.

PV: Fila T1
The Italy-based brand made its presence known in the world of tennis in the ’80s, and no shoe was bigger for Fila than the T1. While its performance features are obsolete by today’s measures and serves more as a lifestyle silhouette than an athletic one, in the ’80s it was the go-to sneaker on the tennis court.

Fila T1 Sneakers Fila T1 sneakers. Courtesy of brand.