While there are so many sneakers on the market right now that we want, there’s something about the nostalgia we get for the ones we wore when we were young. Do you agree? You remember your parents getting them for you. You remember rocking them on the first day of school. Now you’re reminiscing. Now you remember that old adage: “You don’t know what you’ve got it until it’s gone.” Now you’re on eBay overpaying for Travel Fox. And that’s all because of this article. Sorry. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Most memorably worn by MC Hammer and Derrick Coleman, the British Knights brand was known for its prevalence in the urban and art communities. Driven by hip-hop endorsements, “BK Knights,” as they are informally referred to, took pride in being sold as a fashion brand first, performance second. But, as Coleman wore the shoe and found success, the brand’s popularity skyrocketed.
You might still catch these at Payless, if you really want a pair. But, when the shoe first debuted in 1979, it took the market by storm thanks to its athletic shape, comfortability, and “iconic” side pocket—a pocket large enough to hold change or keys. It was something never seen before. The hype was short-lived, though. The sneaker market shrunk in the mid-80s and ROOs fell out of favor.
“Jox: the shoe named after you.” This one sounds like the making of a Saturday Night Live sketch. The Jox shoe by Thom McAn was a lifestyle sneaker with the build and weight of a performance shoe. You could head to the mall, hoop after and still look good—per ’80s style standards.
Brooks still has a hand in the sneaker industry, though it’s in high-tech running shoes. But, in the ’80s, Brooks was atop the basketball sneaker hierarchy. They secured endorsement deals with Dominique Wilkins and David Russell. Their original “Rejector Hi” sneaker may have even inspired the Off-White “Off-Court 3.0” and Fear of God “Leather Basketball Sneaker” silhouettes.
Travel Fox is a poorly named, long-forgotten luxury sneaker brand. They were the original “high-fashion” sneaker. The shoe was made with the finest Italian leather with printed text and stitched logo-work. Their accents are reminiscent of more modern styles like Common Projects and the label-like text on Off-White brand sneakers.
Hi-Tec’s 1989 ad for the “Badwater 146” is one of the most iconic running ads ever run (pun intended). The “fresh from our lab” slogan caught on as an innuendo for runners needing a fresh pair and needing to be outdoors. The muddy, once-white sneaker’s silhouette maps out a trek from sea-level to Mount Whitney and proves, by its appearance, that it made the trek with ease. The sneaker, out of the box, is damn good looking and worthy of a return. See for yourself.
LA Gear endorsed a long list of athletes during their peak days: Hakeem Olajuwon, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Wayne Gretzky, and Joe Montana. And, the deals weren’t only made with athletes—international superstars like Michael Jackson and Paula Abdul signed on with the brand. Their endorsements and their “LA Lights” kids shoes kept the brand atop the market for a couple of years. Their “Leap Gear” line was the brand’s last notable effort, a technology that lit the heel of the shoe up when the athlete took off. Nike and adidas followed suit in the years after and LA Gear fell into obscurity.
Latrell Sprewell and Dada collaborated on a pair of basketball sneakers with “spinner” rims on the side. They aired a successful run of commercials and shocked the world with their release. Sprewell even dropped 35 in them once. Now, Sprewell claims the shoes are coming back. We sure as hell hope so.