The Most Iconic Sneakers In Movie History
Just as the perfectly chosen trainer can provide a solid foundation for your outfit, in cinema they can do the same for a sense of character.
Think about it. Would Renton from Trainspotting have been the same cynical antihero in a pair of box-fresh Air Force Ones instead of his battered Adidas Samba Supers? Would Forrest Gump have convinced as the humble, American-as-apple-pie doofus if he'd been running around in some Alexander McQueen platforms? Can you imagine Rick Deckard whizzing through dystopian LA in Blade Runner in some chunky-soled Balenciagas? You cannot.
Just for kicks, we've rounded up the most iconic sneakers in cinema history. Let this list be a reminder that picking the pair is an important matter. Let it also remind you of some great films. Win-win.
Forrest Gump's Nike Cortez from Forrest Gump
You might recall Leo DiCaprio smashing up a Lamborghini while wearing a pair in The Wolf Of Wall Street, but the Cortez began life as an altogether more wholesome sneaker before being rebooted as a streetwear essential.
The Cortez was Nike's first track shoe after it changed its name from Blue Ribbon Sports, and became a hit after the 1972 Olympics. American athletes used them there and—obviously—so does Forrest when he heads of on his coast-to-coast jog after being turned down by Jenny. If you were going to do a heartbroken coast-to-coast jog—Forrest covers 15,000 miles or so, by most estimations—you'd want to be doing it in something appropriately classic. The Cortez's lifespan as a New York hip-hop touchstone as well as a California athletics shoe fits the continent-spanning achievement, as well as Forrest's all-American vibe, tidily.
Ripley's Converse All Stars from Alien
The utilitarian sportiness of the All Stars chimes with Ripley's no-bullshit, flamethrower-it-yourself ethos, and you can make a case for the slightly scuzzy Converse and gray boiler suit look being an under-appreciated style touchstone throughout much of the 1980s. Look at Glass Spider-era David Bowie and tell me I'm wrong. Her Reebok Alien Stompers from sequel Aliens are a slightly more acquired taste—though a lot more wearable than the clumpy, self-tying abominations Marty McFly got hold of in Back To The Future II—looking like a cross between a snow shoe and the kind of protective boot you have to limp around with after you've broken your ankle. In a good way.
Renton's Adidas Samba Supers from Trainspotting
Mark Renton's burgundy Samba Supers are as much part of the fabric and feel of Trainspotting as 'Born Slippy,' and set the tone for the whole film: they're the first thing you see as Renton's feet slam into Princes Street and 'Lust For Life' kicks in. They've got a scuzzy charm to them, but somehow never feel completely inappropriate no matter where Renton fetches up: the club, five-a-side football, court appearances. Despite being worn in, there's still a playful look to them—much like Renton himself.
Buggin' Out's Nike Air Jordan 4 from Do The Right Thing
Even for sneaker devotee Spike Lee, this is a film stuffed with insider picks. Mookie's Air Trainer IIIs deserve a shout, but Buggin' Out's box-fresh white Air Jordans are the stars. They also work as a potent symbol of the changing face of New York in the 1980s, when the Boston Celtics fan stomps all over them on the way to his newly bought brownstone. That's the whole film right there. Nike put together some 30th anniversary Air Jordan 4s—with the scuff already on the right toe—a couple of years ago for a select few.
Rick Deckard's Adidas Official from Blade Runner
If you're going to be diving around Los Angeles looking for AWOL replicants you're going to want a straightforward sneaker, and they don't get much simpler than an ultra utilitarian, all-black-everything Adidas Stan Smiths. And if you need further proof that all-black tennis shoes are a tidy all-rounder, look at Harrison Ford giving them an off-duty professor spin with a gray blazer and blue jeans in The Fugitive. These things tend to be easier if you're already Harrison Ford though.
Michael Dorsey's suede Pumas from Tootsie
A low key classic. Before Dustin Hoffman's talented but difficult actor Michael takes on the persona of Dorothy and is still in the throes of being a colossal tit, his conceited and unco-operative nature comes through in a rumpled, artfully disheveled look. Along with his stone-colored slacks, polo shirts, and unkempt hair there are these light grey suede Puma Classics. It's a proto-normcore look, which is tricky to pull off, but airlift these away from the rest of the outfit—and the terminally antagonistic Michael—and you've got a quietly impressive pair of off-duty kicks.
Wayne's Nike Omega Flames from High Hopes
In many ways, Mike Leigh's High Hopes is Mike Leigh at his most Mike Leigh. It's a slice-of-London-life drama looking at class chafing, social mobility and how brill socialism is—all of which is well and good, but not exactly a fertile ground for acquisitively minded trainer fans. And then, out of the blue, Jason Watkins' Wayne is wearing bright orange Omega Flames with his tie-and-jumper combo. "Bright, aren't they?" says Cyril. Yes, Cyril. Yes they are. They're a flash of radioactive brightness in the middle of your dour flat. They're a reminder that finding joy in a pair of trainers is a completely legitimate way to make yourself happy, and they're absolutely class.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.