From Nostalgia to Fashion: Embrace the Revival of Retro Sneakers in 2023

If your sneakers have seen a few summers, festivals or road trips – maybe it’s time for a fresh set. With many retro styles having a major comeback, we reveal the top sneakers trending for 2023 and the history behind them that will have you put your best foot forward.

Retro sneaker trends for 2023: adidas samba worn by bella hadid

Image Source: Getty Images

Adidas Samba

History: First produced in 1949 for soccer, it was a mid-top shoe made from kangaroo leather – specially designed for athletes in icy conditions. In 1950 it found the hearts of many Brazilians as it was popularised during FIFA World Cup and officially titled Samba, after the popular Brazillian dance and music genre. Over the years, it was designed and eventually found its way to its current design. 

Now: Showcasing Adidas’s iconic three-stripe logo, Samba’s are a slim design (taking a steer away from the oversized dad sneakers we’ve seen in previous years) with timeless appeal. Since late 2022 it’s been spotted on the feet of Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Bieber and Kaia Gerber and has risen to be the number-one trending shoe for 2023. According to Google Search data, ‘Adidas Samba’ searches have increased by 343%! For a timeless style that pairs with everything, the Samba is an easy choice.


Tretro sneaker trends for 2023: Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 in yellow

Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66

History: In the same year as the creation of Adidas Samba, Kihachiro Onitsuka founded his athletic shoe brand – Onitsuka Tiger. However, it took years before he hit gold, and in 1966 came up with the Mexico 66 – designed for track runners. Mexico 66 had its showcase moment at the Olympic Games, sealing its iconic name forever. Legends like Bruce Lee and Jim Kelly were known for sporting their Onitsuka Tiger’s – further adding to the popularity. 

Now: The Mexico 66 is inarguably the most popular design from Onitsuka, featuring a slim silhouette and its iconic criss-cross pattern. Its pattern over the side matches that of Asics, as they have the same ownership. Over its resurgence, the yellow colourway is clearly predominating – a good choice if you need to switch up from the basic white sneaker. 


Retro Sneaker trends for 2023: Adidas gazelle x Gucci collaborator in green and pink

Adidas Gazelle

History: Not to be confused with the Samba, the Gazelle introduced suede performance footwear to the world in 1966. Initially, the Gazelle was available in red and blue colourways, with red being intended for outdoor use and blue for indoor. Looks-wise, the Gazelle has a classic silhouette, Adidas’s signature three-stripe logo, and a low-top design. By the 1970s, the Gazelle had become one of Adidas’s most iconic styles. Over the years, the Gazelle has undergone several revamps and collaborations, leading to its current popularity. 

Now: Today, the Gazelle plays the role of the Samba’s colourful Aunty, available in many colours – from emerald green to bright pink. Again, we notice a trending departure from the traditional white sneaker. If you like the Samba’s but want to spin the colour wheel – Gazelle’s are for you. 


Retro sneaker trends for 2023: Nike Shox in Nova White

Nike Shox

History: Nike Shox is an eccentric sneaker that stands out from the crowd with its innovative technology and distinct appearance. Its first design concepts date back to 1984, when the designer of Air Force 1, Bruce Kilgour, conceived a novel cushioning system for shoes. Later, designers continued to work on the design, polishing it to its current. Its glory moment came in the 2000 Olympics when NBA player, Vince Carter, slam-dunked over a 2.18m player while wearing his Nike Shox BB4s.

Nike brought out several more models, some more successful than others. However, all featured their futuristic appearance.

Now: Today, Nike Shox continues to surprise and impress, whether you’re a fan or not. Thanks to collaborations with Supreme and Martine Rose, Nike Shox are back in the spotlight. For something outwardly different, Nike Shox are worth considering (if you can find them online – they’re notoriously hard to get hold of).

Retro sneaker trends for 2023: New Balance 550 worn by Em Rata

Image Source: Getty Images

New Balance 550

History: The history of New Balance spans back to 1906, creating footwear for track runners, tennis, boxing and baseball. In came the 550 in 1989, following the low-top basketball style at the current time and designed by sneaker legend Steven Smith. As years went on, the 550 became outdated and was eventually forgotten.

Now: Teddy Santis, the Creative Director of a New Balance sub-line, found in the NB archive, images of the 550. After searching through shoe collectors, they found a pair and began reconstructing the 550. The shoe was released in 2020 in four different colourways and quickly gained popularity. Celebrities like Em Rata, Hailey Bieber, Kendall Jenner, and Laura Harrier were seen wearing the shoe, which has a chunky profile and a retro basketball design from the 80s. While the 550 peaked in 2022, its timeless appeal ensures it will remain a closet staple for years to come.



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