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There are some shoes in the world of fashion that are positively unmistakable, and adidas makes a whole bunch of them. The adidas Superstar — one of the most iconic shoes of all time — is one of those few unmistakable styles. All the more impressive is that it is a simple, low-top sneaker. The shoe is usually done up with a white leather base, three contrasting stripes on the side, and a signature shell toe. The adidas Superstar shoe is low-key at heart, and its subtle nature is all part of its charm and popularity, transcending various styles through decades of changes.
Nowadays, you can come up with just about any take on the Superstar and there’s a chance you’ll find one you like. The simple construction means it’s easy to play with. Maybe the leather upper is swapped out for something perforated, or the basic black stripe coloring is swapped for an iridescent pink. The shoe has come a long way since it first dropped as a basketball sneaker in 1970. Without historical context, you might not know that the Superstar was born as a basketball sneaker. This is both a testament to how long the Superstar has been around — and how drastically athletic technology has changed. The Superstar was the sneaker that came up to challenge the Chuck Taylor. This isn’t hard to imagine, but what is hard to imagine is ever having played basketball in Chuck Taylors. They were (and are) made of canvas with flat bottoms and slippery outsoles. The high top collapsed upon impact or got in the way during quick movements. As far as basketball sneakers went, the performance details needed work.
The Superstar came into the mix with a more protective and supportive leather upper, heels made to absorb impact from high jumps, and hexagonal outsoles for maintaining traction during fast-paced games. Famed basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar signed with adidas in 1976 and began to push the Superstar to superfandom. In the ’80s, Run-D.M.C. brought them into music and hip-hop culture. These big names catapulted the sneaker out of sports culture and into the streets.
Over the years, the Superstar has remained popular, partly because it’s so easy to wear. It might have gotten its start as an athletic shoe, but it doesn’t look like a basketball sneaker, as far as current standards go. Plus, they’ll never look out of place with clothes of any kind — athletic performance gear, athleisure, workwear and all. Just take a look at Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wears them to bike ride in sweatpants, or the members of Run-D.M.C. who wore them with full adidas tracksuits. Superstars are are also shoes that pair excellently with any kind of outfit, from casual weekend attire to full-fledged work meetings.
If you’re dressing up any sneaker, including the Superstar, the key is to keep the sneaker as the most casual part of your outfit — any other piece that also leans sporty may make the vibe feel overly informal. And maybe that’s fine for your workplace culture, but if your office runs a bit more conservative, keep the rest of your clothes a little more elevated.
Superstars also look great with a pair of jeans and a blazer, one of Gigi Hadid’s go-to outfits. Gigi’s sister and Superstar extraordinaire, Bella Hadid, also wears them with jeans, but often plays with the proportions, wearing the sneakers with dramatically wide jeans and a cropped top. Katie Holmes styles hers with jeans, too — in fact she sometimes leans into a full-denim outfit.
For something even more pulled together for, say, the office, pair them with a refined collared shirt or skirt. Lorde wore them with a long dress — a cool juxtaposition that’s always in style — and Olivia Wilde dressed them up with a midi skirt and sweater. They look just as good with tailored pants (wide legs welcome here) and a white t-shirt as they do with a custom suit.
While the main gist of the shoe has stayed the same, adidas has dropped fresh colorways over the years so that you can always get a pair that suits your personal aesthetic. The classic option is the white upper with black detailing, but you can go for an easy swap with a simple color change, like a turquoise or red detail palette instead. Alternatively, you choose a shoe that displays a black or gray upper, a tortoiseshell toe, or flowered embroidery.
Plus, this classic shoe is now a vital part of adidas’s commitment to sustainability. Some versions of the Superstar are made with materials that come from production waste scraps, which are then turned into materials. This is generally a more sustainable way of constructing the shoes (and limiting the carbon foot print) than using brand-new materials. It’s an iconic shoe that has kept the stylistic elements that have made it special, while still evolving to be a shoe for all occasions and for all times.