The first thing you learn in Fashion101 is that all trends are cyclical in nature. It’s why ’90s footwear was huge this decade and why many expect sportswear companies to bring back their best ’00s footwear over the course of the next 10 years. But if there’s one decade of footwear design that reigns supreme, it’s got to be the ’70s.
So many sneakers we see in stores or on our Instagram feeds are influenced by what footwear designers dreamed up in the ’70s. That decade gave us the Nike Waffle Trainer, the Stan Smith (although it existed since 1965 as Robert Houllirt’s signature sneaker), the PUMA Clyde, and a whole range of Vans sneakers including the Era and the Old-Skool.
All of those sneakers still exist today, having been brought back into circulation at some point between their discontinuation and now, while other, contemporary sneakers are heavily influenced by the aesthetic of ’70s footwear. The New Balance 327 is perhaps the best example. The model became the hit of the summer thanks to a tasteful collaboration with Parisian label Casablanca and features hallmark design details from the ’70s.
In an interview with Highsnobiety, 327 designer Charlotte Lee explains that the ’70s were a pivotal decade for New Balance, as that was when the N logo was introduced on the 320. “We were seeing seventies as an emerging trend on runways, from a lot of brands, and some fashion brands specifically,” she said. “There’s more to come, and I think the seventies trend as a whole isn’t going anywhere any time soon.”
One such fashion brand is Guillaume Philibert’s Filling Pieces, who recently dropped its Crease Runner, another contemporary take on ’70s footwear design. The sneaker was designed by Martin Sallieres, who wanted to pay homage to the waffle outsole from that decade by extending it over the midsole and onto the upper for an exaggerated ’70s aesthetic.
“This era of footwear (in terms of innovation) is the essence of nowadays sneakers,” he tells Highsnobiety. “So essentially we see these references and elements in every modern release. Whether it is colour, material or shape-wise.”
Other examples of brands taking inspiration from the ’70s are Lanvin’s Bumper sneaker or Acne Studio’s Barric. Both are very classic approaches to the aesthetic and are more traditional options when compared with the aforementioned New Balance 327 or Filling Pieces Crease Runner.
As both Lee and Sallieres have said, the ’70s aesthetic is arguably the pinnacle of footwear design and its influences are here to stay. Thankfully, there is an abundance of options if you’re looking to add a bit of ’70s flair to your late summer/early fall rotation.
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