Smells like teen spirit

The 1990s - the decade of platform sneakers and Birkenstocks

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1990s Converse

Special Edition Kurt Cobain Converse

Sole Nirvana

The sneaker shoe storm of the 1980s saw brands like Nike, Adidas, and Reebok dominating the sporty shoe market. However, by the beginning of the 1990s, another shoe label began to sneak out from under the pile. This label was Converse and its shoe – namely Hi-Top Converse All Stars – became the most iconic sneaker of the decade. Starting life as a basketball shoe, Hi-Tops rapidly became the must-have subculture shoe. Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain donned a pair of Hi-Tops on the band’s MTV Unplugged session in 1993 which prompted grungers everywhere to rush out to get their very own pair (which they then wore for the entire decade until the shoes disintegrated around their feet).


Thankfully the 1990s wasn’t all grunge. Fashionable footwear for women included penny loafers, mules, canvas flats and playful plastic sandals. Shoes often had metallic finishes and were decorated with charms, chains, wood or glass beads, rhinestones, and buckles. As the decade progressed, soles became thicker and platform boots and shoes were resurrected. Young girls began, like their parents before them, stomping around in chunky wedge-heeled shoes and boots.

Girl Power

Popular bands of the time like The Spice Girls helped bring platform shoes back into fashion and they also promoted the striking phenomenon of the platform sneaker. This height-defying shoe was the lovechild of the platform trend of the 1970s and the athletic shoe trend of the 1980s… slam them together and you have a huge platform sneaker!


Those who wanted to keep their feet a little more firmly on the ground could opt for trendy Birkenstock sandals – Birkenstocks saw an exponential increase in their popularity in the 1990s. According to “The New York Times”, Birkenstock had been in America since the 1960s but the company sold more shoes between 1992 and 1994than it had in the 20 previous years combined (wow!).


Find out the real reason behind the Spice Girls’ break-up in the video below!

1990s Platforms

The Spice Girls


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