Vintage Trainers and their Modern Day Versions

Trainers have been around since the 18th century. The story behind their creation dates back to then, when poorer people would wear rubber soled shoes (plimsolls) which were made without a left or right foot – one standard plimsoll was made to fit all.

To fix this somewhat painful issue a US rubber company called Keds produced a canvas top shoe, tailored for each foot and subsequently provided what we would now call the very first trainer.

Trainers are changing all of the time and the evolutions are remarkable, here are some of our picks of ‘vintage’ trainers and their modern day comparisons.

The Nike ‘Waffle’ Trainer

The Nike Waffle Trainer was the first of its kind, and dated back to 1971 where Nike’s co-founder Bill Bowerman and his wife came up with the ingenious idea of using a waffle iron as a mold for a running shoe and the rest, as they say, was history.

Nike Waffle trainers at the Wellcome Collection

But what about it’s modern day version? The best lookalike was found in JD and goes by the name of the Nike Airmax 90 Essential.

Over 40 years of evolution has played remarkably in to the hands of Nike and the result has been some world class trainers, which do you prefer?

Classic Vans Slip Ons

Classic vans slip ons are an exemplar of a shoe that does what it says on the tin, a classic style that never grows old, and evidently – history seems to agree well with it. Vans was founded in the mid-60’s with the purpose of providing stylish trainers to skateboarders, since it has developed into a universally acknowledged company with a wide range of versatile products.

Here’s how the classic vans slip on shoe looked when it first came out in 1982…


And here’s how they look now…

Surprisingly this isn’t a game of spot the difference, simply the appreciation for a classic shoe that seemingly never grows old.

BF Good Rich PF Flyer

This tongue-tying trainer was first produced in 1938 and is one of the first of its kind. The canvas shoe was made by BF Goodrich and Hood Rubber Co. The PF stood for ‘posture foundation’ as the trainer was alleged to put a bigger “spring in your step”. The brand is now owned by New Balance, but we think they look more familiar to a different kind of shoe…

We think that the early BF Good Rich may have been an inspiration for the famed canvas shoe brand Converse, as their shoes embody some starling similarities.

Here’s the most similar pair we could find, as sold in JD.

What do you think? Are you a vintage lover or do you prefer your trainers fresh and new? If it’s the latter, head over to JD at Runcorn Shopping City and treat yourself to a well earned new version of the classics.

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