CREDIT TO: Wow! DREW BREES HIT WITH $7 MIL BOMBSHELL IN JEWELRY WAR! BY: CHARLIE THOMAS
It started with two words. “adding basketball” [sic] was the ground-breaking statement Kanye West fired off to his legion of Twitter followers in July 2018. Although far from his most philosophical of tweets, it was the one to get sneakerheads rabid with excitement. He was of course referring to the latest Yeezy line of trainers, confirming the two-year-old rumours that he’d been working on a basketball shoe, to be released in 2019.
Is this the first time a luxury brand without a sporting pedigree has turned its hand to the basketball silhouette? Of course not. Off-White, Fear of God, Hender Scheme, Valentino, Berluti and Buscemi are just some of the names that have made them in recent years, none of which come below £500. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. There’s nothing fashion hasn’t appropriated. Can we even call them basketball shoes when they don’t have the tech to actually make them wearable on court? Who knows.
What we do know is, there’s no other sport that has such a grip on fashion, and particularly the sneaker industry. Air Jordans have been dominating the sneaker game since the first pair came out in 1984, and are arguably responsible for the market as we know it today, as well as the popularity of endorsement deals. In 2017, the Jordan brand’s wholesale revenue was at $3.1 billion, so it’s little wonder fashion brands want to cash in.
And then of course there’s the matter of style. Just as many people purchase basketball shoes to be worn off court as they do on, and with good reason.
Forget the chunky trainers of today, basketball shoes were the first statement sneaks, and some of the most iconic sneaker designs ever hailed from the hardwood – we’re talking Converse All Stars, Nike Air Force Ones, Air Jordan 1s. Naturally they pair well with streetwear-inspired looks, loud colourways working with bold logo tees and wide-leg chinos or jeans; whereas muted all black or white versions can complement more minimal outfits. And their popularity is set to rise too.
Enter Kanye and his plans with Yeezy’s big release. Could 2019 be the year of the basketball shoe? The Chicago native has been on the ball so far in his life as a designer – he was a major catalyst for the longline tops, oversized jackets and chunky trainers trends, after all. Until then, here are some of the top basketball shoes you can buy right now, in terms of style, performance and affordability.
The Best Fashion Basketball Shoes
Nike Air Force 1 Mid
The OG basketball sneaker. Yes, the Converse All Star was the actual first and remains a style classic, but the Air Force 1 really revolutionised the athletic shoe market. And yet, because of its popularity today people too often forget the AF1’s hardtop roots. While it wouldn’t hold up quite as well today in performance terms as it would when it was launched in 1982, the Air Force 1’s classic design ensures its style game is unparalleled.
BUY NOW: £79.95
Air Jordan 3 Retro
Air Jordans are often reissued but regularly sell out, meaning you have to act fast if you want a pair in a wearable colour. These 3s boast an iconic design, imitated by many, bettered by none, and come in white with a subtle baby blue sole – mimicking Jordan’s North Carolina college colours.
BUY NOW: £164.95
Converse All Star Classic High-Top
Like the Air Force 1, the All Star’s widespread popularity has meant the shoe’s original purpose is often forgotten. It was a basketball shoe first and foremost, but is a wardrobe staple today. Wear it with anything – from your tracksuit to your business suit – and it’ll look the part.
BUY NOW: £70.00
Fear of God Basketball High-Tops
Despite a wholly unoriginal design which borrows heavily from the AF1 and the Converse Weapon of the ‘80s, these Fear of God sneakers still demand a price tag of £800. Why? Because fashion. They are, naturally, made from high-quality calf leather and are assembled by hand in Italy, but more importantly they signal the next potential direction the luxury sneaker is heading.
BUY NOW: £800.00
Hender Scheme MIP-01 High-Tops
Rather than try to swerve its design inspirations, Japanese brand Hender Scheme offers all-out replications of the most famous sneaker styles of all – three guesses for where this one turned to. Constructed from a beautiful vegetable-tanned leather and with all branding stripped away, this is more like a work of art than a basketball shoe, which is reflected in the price tag.