Discussion: What Defines a Signature Sneaker?

Discussion: What Defines a Signature Sneaker?


Last weekend we discussed which were the best ‘short lived’ signature series produced by Nike.

Surprisingly, many were more concerned as to why certain sneakers were left out and feel as if the Nike Air Penny line is still going strong, leaving more than one additional topic up for debate. With that, let’s discuss those two topics this time around which came up during our previous thread… what defines a signature sneaker in your opinion?

1)Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley, Penny Hardaway and many more all had quite a few things in common. Nothing more common than the fact that they all represented Nike on court, and soon each got their own signature sneakers after many years of representing the Swoosh. Why was the Air Force 180 left out of the Barkley lineup; the Air Maestro left out of the Pippen lineup & so on? While these were all great performance shoes of the 90’s and seen on the feet of these particular players, they were Nike Basketball products… and worn by other players in the NBA even though they are mostly known for being attached to the aforementioned athletes. They we not signature products, but were made available in multiple PE versions to match with the player’s corresponding team uniform. Take the Nike Hyperfuse for example; Rajon Rondo debuted the sneaker on court during the playoffs… they were even marked with the PE branding featuring his jersey number. Kevin Garnett wore the Jumpman Pro (Jordan’s 1st team model prior to the Jordan ‘Brand’) & Air Jordan XI ‘Columbia’. Barkley wore the Air Jordan XIV as did Reggie Miller after MJ’s 2nd retirement. Does this make those shoes their signature sneakers, in your perspective?

2)The Nike Air Penny had a total of four sneakers plus the Nike Air Foamposite One for those who count that as a signature. In my opinion, a signature sneaker usually comes with the players name followed by a number; Air Jordan 1-23 or Air Penny 1-4, although that’s not always the case. It was mentioned the Air Penny line is still going strong with recent retro releases as well as a couple of hybrid models; The Nike Air ½ Cent and Nike Air Rookie LWP. Again, this is just my opinion which is why this discussion to me seems so intriguing… but those two shoes feature the Penny logo yet is not named after the player. Do you consider this a continuation of sorts of the original Air Penny lineup even though it’s a hybrid model. Can the same be said for the Nike Air Max A Lot which mixes the Air Pippen 2 with the Air More Uptempo, both if which worn by Scottie Pippen. How about the abomination that is the Jordan 6-17-23 which horribly combines two signatures from the Air Jordan line… is that an Air Jordan or is it a Jordan Hybrid? You can even throw in some of the .5 models; Air Jordan 1.5, 5.5, 9.5, 12.5 & 16.5… signatures or not?

Let us know your opinion on the two subjects.

Are you conflicted at all wanting a hybrid to be viewed as a continuation of a previous signature series since it was well executed yet the Jordan hybrids which are typically frowned upon tossed aside and never to be heard from again?

As well as what makes a signature sneaker in general? If a player wears it, does that automatically mark the shoe as being his signature?

  • Big Mase

    First off, I challenge you to find a single image of the OG 180’s–not the air max 180’s–worn by someone other than Barkley. You ask, what makes a signature shoe? Well, If you’ve got a commercial of you specifically rockin’ the shoe I’d say it’s a signature…wouldn’t you? That cartoon commercial of barkley rockin’ those 180’s is one of the top 5 nike commercials of all time if you ask me. I’d also mention that Barkley wore those kicks in the olympics that year. I’d also mention that Scottie Pippen had a super awesome “time warp” commercial for a pair of flight lights that you don’t even mention that everyone I knew–in L.A.–considered to be his signature shoes. How many people are currently rockin’ Kobe’s shoes? Not just on the lakers, but other teams as well. His last two models were rocked by others as well. Does that mean they’re not Kobe’s? How many times did we see STAT wearin KD’s last year? Seems to me that if you’ve got a commercial and your Nike box has your name on the bad boy either one or a combination of both makes a signature shoe. By the way, other people wore jordans when jordan was playing. I mean for real–I say Dee Brown pumps and you know exactly what I’m talkin about. I say the Grandma-ma’s, you know what I’m talkin about.

  • Big Mase

    I still can’t get past this: Who didn’t refer to the 180’s as the Barkley’s both years they came out…are you serious?

  • Sneakergeek

    What about the players snaker logo? Doesnt that count as a name. Jordan’s jumpman symbol is associated and always will be with his name. Penny had the 1 cent symbol just like c webb had the cw symbol that looked like a hoop but we know it was his shoe and if the lwp were not pennies’ why would nike take them and fuze them with other penny hardaway shoes? The foamposite 1 was pennies shoe his number was on it, his symbol was on it, only came out in his team’s color (royal blue) and Eastbay advertised it as penny hardaways signature shoe when first released. I remember because I took the book to school with me and let all my friends see them on my feet just so they knew what I had on. Kevin Garnett debuted the jumpman pro for jordan it had his name on the shoe, Garnett was in every advetisment for the shoe. You really can’t say jordans are the same as nike tho now that it’s its own corporation. And why wasnt Ken Griffey Jr. mention for his signature shoes that are still popular til this day I have a few pair myself his shoes have been going strong for a while now and he’s retired and still endorsed by nike it’s that something jordan did? He’s like jordan for baseball give my man some credit lol. But all in all I see your point but still if they are still making different shoes with his name it’s his signature. Barkleys are just being retroed so you can’t include him because they have not made a new show with his name on it. They did with penny call them mash up or fusion what ever it’s new has his name on it and it says it on the box penny 1/2 cents got the 1 cent sign on the back can’t argue that. Every jordan that comes out is Jordans signature shoe “Air Jordan” 2011, Air Jordan Flight 45, Air Jordan Spizike, Air Jordan Dub Zero, see what I’m saying can’t compare nike and Jordan because he’s a living person with his own company nike is just a company

  • Big Mase

    Go on any of the good shoe sights: Marquee sole, PYS, et al. Key word: Barkley and tell me what you see……

  • Big Mase

    As a matter of fact, just google image search: “barkley 180” and tell me what you see.

  • justmyjs

    The 180s were at nike stores advertised as a fab five shoe, the black ones, also. I think mase needs to read the questions before getting bent out of shape when this says discussion. I clearly read in your opinion as a question honestly. To answer the question tho, I think that certain shoes are going to always be remember by a certain person wearing it but it doesn’t mean its a sig shoe. Nike has logos of players on the hyperfuse and fly bys like amare and brandon roy but the shoes is just a shoe and not they sig. Same goes with comercials. Lots of nike players are in the comercials to advertise the shoe because if he’s your fav player you will want the same shoe as him. Just my opinion and great points were made by sneakergeek. This is a hard one and can be agrued about forever.

  • Cheapsoles

    Just because a player does a commercial doesn’t make it his shoe. Tim Hardaway did Air Rais spots with Spike Lee but they aren’t a Tim Hardaway signature shoe. Rasheed wallace rocked AF1’s but thats not his signature shoe. Unless the players name or nickname in the case of Gary Payton and “The Glove” model it isn’t a signature model. The key word is “Signature” as in “your name”. Association does not mean signature. And whoever made the Kobe and KD argument is just dumb. Of course those are Kobe’s and KD’s signature shoe no matter who wears them, it has their names on the boxes in the title of the shoe. The Air Bakin is considered a KG shoe by some and a Tim Hardaway shoe by others but it’s just a NIke Basketball they used both players to promote.

  • Big Mase

    First of all, to justmyj’s, I specifically said I was talking about the OG 180’s…that barkley wore in the olympics. NOT the air maix 180’s–get it right dude. And to cheapsoles, I suppose the robinson pumps arn’t the robinson pumps either right? Even though he is the ONLY player that ever wore them–either of the two models. Right? I mean gimmie a break. Who wore the Air Raids besides Timmy? Why would you pay player to do a commercial if you did not specifically want your target audience to associate your product with said player. What sense in the world does that make. What do you think marketing is? By the way, google image search “robinson pumps” and tell me what you see. Although I’d bet ya’ll would tell me it’s the air command force and air command force 180….whatever. Any way, how is it that the two shoes i just mentioned didn’t make the cut? They are like the two sickest shoes ever that apparently arn’t going to ever be retro’d. I’d love to have another pair of the teals. It mad me sick when nike put out the hyperdunks or fuses–whichever–and referred to the two nasty coloy ways as the billy hoyle and sidney versions of the white men can jump pack. Billy wore the lime robinson pumps…errrr….i mean the neon nike air command forces…….

  • Big Mase

    And yes, Robinson did a commercial with payton when he was a rookie in which robinson was wearing his original pumps in case ya didn’t know. It was funny as hell if I remember right, something about robinson making payton wash his car i think.

  • seuok720

    tough arugment

  • bighec

    i think what makes a sig shoe is if when the shoe is general released it has that certain palyers name or number on it. but i dont think a commerical means thats there shoe. i mean air jordan 2011 isnt wades sig shoe right

  • Storm Shadow

    The 2 that pop out instantly for me are:

    Air Flight One: Definitely should be considered a Penny signature model. Easily.

    Air Dynamic Flight: For sure a Pippen signature model. The breds had a #33 on the side. Matched well with the AJVIII Mike wore that season.

  • 100pair

    A signature shoe should be designed for that player. Designed around their style, attributes,and personal influences. People too often confuse a P.E. with a signature line.

  • trent

    In my book every sneaker that has the player logo on it should be considered a signature shoe.

  • Dreezy

    This is a great topic, albeit a little dated given that I used to argue about this same topic with sneaker buffs in the early to mid 90s…however, I will would love to address at least the question about what makes a signature shoe.

    Many of friends or classmates would automatically think that since one, or very few players, wore a particular shoe on the court, it was therefore a signature shoe. I would STRONGLY disagree and proceed to launch into a tirade about why they were wrong. A signature sneaker, I would protest, needed to be more than JUST ONE PLAYER WEARING A PARTICULAR PAIR OF SHOES at a particular time. If we were to try to and formulate a comprehensive definition for what a signature sneaker was, I think we could use the most established (and non-debatable) set of signature sneakers as a model for comparison.

    For example, what were the most obvious signature sneakers of the 90s? First, clearly, would be the Jordans. What about second? Compared to the Jordans, this is a tough answer. I would say that the following are all in a second place tie: 1) the Iverson's (at least the first few versions), 2) Grant Hill's Fila's; 3) Larry Johnson's Grandma Ma's; 4) Shaq's ugly shoes (all versions); 5) Shawn Kemp's (e.g., Kamikaze's); 5) Kobe Bryant's sneakers (both the Addidas and Nike versions); 6) Penny Hardaway's shoes; 7) Charles Barkley; and of course at 8) Lebron's Sneakers.

    Btw, for now we will just say that A SIGNATURE shoe and a SIGNATURE SERIES of shoes are the same. So whether a player only had ONE signature shoe (Larry Johnson) or a series (Grant Hill), we can use those terms interchangeably.

    So, with that, here is the criteria for which we can determine if a shoe is a signature shore or not:

    1. Name of shoe (Must be the player's name)
    If the shoe is NOT in the player's name, it will NOT be a signature shoe.

    2. Player-specific symbol or emblem on shoe that indicates it was made specifically for player
    Must have some sort of symbol that directly relates to the player such as the Jumpman logo, or Shaq's two-hand dunk symbol, or Penny's number 1 circled by a ring, or Lebron's LB with and crown with the number 23.

    3. Colors of team
    Shoe must represent the color of the player's team like Jordan's red, black and white motif or Iverson's original colorways (red and blue).

    4. Commercial
    Player must either have a commercial or advertisement where it is clear that the shoe they are promoting is just for them. Examples are Jordan's commercials, Kobe Bryant's commercials (especially during his Addidas campaign), Charles Barkley's commercials ("I am not a role model"), David Robinson's ("Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood"), and the mother of all signature shoe commercials: Penny Hardaway's "Lil Penny adds" voiced by Chris Rock and Lebron's "the Lebron's" commercials.

    5. Only worn by one player (NOT A STRONG INDICATOR)
    This is not a strong indication but for certain signature shoes it can be critical. A perfect example is Allen Iverson who ONLY wore his "Question" before they were released.

    With that, let's see who makes the cut and who doesn't…

    Below is a list of all the players that HAD a signature shoe:

  • Dreezy

    1. Allen Iverson (how bad did you want a pair?)
    2. Grant Hill (remember how sexy the first two were?)
    3. Larry Johnson (remember the Grandma Ma's?)
    4. Shaq' (all of his ugly shoes — google "Shaq and sneakers")
    5. Shawn Kemp (e.g., Kamikaze's — they weren't ever cool but they were recognizable — what the hell was Reebok thinking with these designs????);
    6. Kobe Bryant (both the Addidas and Nike versions — oddly enough, his Addidas commercials were better than his shoes in my opinion)
    7. Penny Hardaway (so fucking hot — from those weird stripped ones to the Foamposits that Bibby wore during Arizona's championship run)
    8. Charles Barkley (while some looked the same, they were all so fresh)
    9. Lebron James (Second pair are absolute classics)
    10. Gary Payton (Had the name of his shoe, symbol (glove), had a commercial with Evan Hollyfield and Vince Carter)
    11. Scottie Pippen (He did not have a commercial advertising JUST his shoes but he did have the All Red flight shoes for the all star game and had two more sneakers that were named after him with a Scottie Pippen emblem or sign).
    12. Vince Carter — JUST BARELY. Although he had a shoe line named after him (Shox VC), there was an entire shox line that had nothing to do with Vince. And yes, he had commercials but they were commercials for Shox in general, not necessarily Vince Carter's Shox.

    Players that DID NOT have a signature shoe:
    1. Chris Webber — although "his" Air Max Sensations had a CW on the back (some pairs), the shoes were not named after him and he did not have a commercial. Does not make the cut.
    2. Jason Kidd — This one was tough because everyone associates the "zoom flighs" with Jason Kidd's name but they were not named after him. While he had commercials, they were generally commercials about players that were signed by Nike — not necessarily about sneakers. Also, no Kidd symbol and the original colorways had nothing to do with his team.
    3. Eddie Jones — Not named after Eddie Jones, no commercial, no symbol. Done.
    4. Tim Duncan — When he was with Nike, he had no name, no symbol and only a few small commercials. However, he did have a signature shoe with Addidas.
    5. David Robinson — Did not have his name on sneakers but had commercials. Did not have colorwary of spurs and did not have specific D Rob symbol. This one is debatable but I don't think that his "pump shoe" did NOT make the cut.

  • whoopy

    a signature shoes is a shoe personalize to the person who will wear it and named after that person that’s all simple sigh!… for other shoes that rides on the name is just another by product that’s up to you if you want to buy it…. nothing to discuss.