The 10 Greatest Years in Sneaker History

1. 1987

Let there be light. Starting in the late '70s, technology was finding its way into sneakers like never before. All sorts of cushioning systems had been implemented — many of them by adidas alone — and athletic footwear had reached a point where it was being treated as advanced athletic equipment. "Cross-Training" was invented as a category, basketball shoes were huge in every sense of the word. At the same time, the merging of sneakers and street culture was becoming not only noticed, but sanctioned by the companies themselves, as Nike turned out the Safari and adidas made their partnership with Run-DMC official. Also, smaller companies like Diadora were making their impact felt with shoes like the Maverick. But 1987 was really about one thing — Air Max. Nike had developed their Air cushioning back in the late '70s, but in 1987 Tinker Hatfield's Air Max runner let the tech burst from the midsole and be exposed to the world. Talking about a revolution.

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