A classic pair of Air Jordans and a basketball

The Ultimate Guide To Vintage Nike Sneakers

First thing's first, if you do not own a pair of Nike shoes, you need to do that expediently! Not only are they incredibly sought after, but they are both stylish and durable, so you get your money's worth.

Since we have embarked on this preloved and sustainability journey together, what better way to start with a good pair of well-kept sneakers? 

Since we have embarked on this preloved and sustainability journey together, what better way to start with a good pair of well-kept sneakers?

 Sneakers are a fashion essential for any wardrobe. They add character and charm to any outfit and allow you the freedom to bounce between chic, casual and street style seamlessly.

Nike Sneakers

I dare say that they are the cornerstone of any great wardrobe.

Yes! I said it. But the key is to have versatile sneakers that you can wear on multiple occasions and with various outfits. But no, that does not necessarily mean that you are only limited to white, black or neutral shoes. 

You have options, and the secret is in the confidence anyway. It depends on how you dress the sneakers up. 

As I send you on your way to search for your next best pair of sneakers, there are a few things you need to look out for when you are on the hunt.


What You Need To Know

Sourcing sneakers is by no means for the weak, and shopping for vintage sneakers is not for the faint of heart. 

But you know what it is? It is the best way to shop because you find such gems, and the thrill of the find makes it all the difference.


The first thing you need to know when going on this vintage treasure hunt is to know your stuff. For example, knowing your sneakers is the best way to spot whether or not a pair of sneakers are counterfeits or authentic.

Nike sneakers have managed to evade having as many fakes as other brands, but certain styles of Nike sneakers - especially the higher-end sneakers and designer collaborations - tend to fall victim to being counterfeited.

When looking for vintage sneakers, it helps to know how the authentic sneakers look brand new so that when you do have to find a vintage pair of that identical shoe, you can have a base to compare to. Here, you need to be aware of such as:

Nike Sneakers


Does the signature Nike tick 'swoosh' to the right?


Is there a label on the tongue of the sneakers, and is there labelling on the in-sole of the shoe?

Shoe Manufacturing

Is the stitching on the sneakers the same throughout the entire design

Retail Value

Another way to ensure you have the right shoe is if you know the original retail value of the vintage sneakers you want to buy. 

The general rule of thumb is that the sneakers should be about 30-50% more than the original value of the highly sought-after shoe.

You know vintage Nike sneakers are fake if they are lower or close to the original retail value.

The whole point of shopping for vintage sneakers is that you are extending shoes' lifespan.

Supporting a counterfeiter will not slow down the fashion production cycle if the demand for fake shoes is still high. 

So know your sneakers and the numbers because the numbers will help you spot the difference between the real deal and the fake.

Colourful Nikes

What Style to Look For

Nike has been a brand that has been around for a while, and so have its designs. Over time, there Nike has developed a few signature shoe styles that have stood the test of time.

Lucky for you, your Fashion Fairy Godmother and fellow Sneaker Lover has got your back. I curated a list of some of Nike's most sought-after sneakers, including Air Forces, Air Maxes, Air Jordans and Dunks.

CLASSIC Nike Sneakers

Nike Air Force 1 1995

The original classic, vintage Air Force 1's from 1995 are one of those timeless gems. They were originally released in 1982 and named after the U.S. presidential aircraft, and since have become a staple feature in sneaker culture.

 The original sneaker was a timeless black-and-white colorway with a tan rubber sole.

The shape has not changed significantly over the past few years. This particular design on this sneaker is typically slightly more difficult to find, but other similar styles come in all shapes and sizes.

Nike Dunk High Summit White Pure Platinum

Every minimalist's dream sneaker is the Nike Dunk High Grey White! This pair's stone grey leather base has a  sophisticated monochromatic color scheme. 

Also, a smooth perforated toe box to the midfoot area and changes to a pebbled texture at the collar.

The off-white overlays at the mudguard, eye stays, ankle, and heel create a beautiful subtle contrast. Add these versatile sneakers to your wardrobe, they can be found here in South Africa at Story, based in Cape Town.


Nike SB Dunk Low Pro Be True

When these shoes dropped a few years ago, they quite literally broke the internet and sold out almost instantaneously. The design of these shoes was ingenious.

To celebrate the LGBTQI+ community, Nike took their classic, all-white Dunk design and tweaked it in the best way possible. Because no two people are alike, the color of the sneakers changes ever so slightly to show that uniqueness. 

The laces are also two different colors, and a beautiful rainbow embroidered "Be True" label is on the sneaker's sides. White sneakers are always a YES and can be sourced locally from Court Order.

Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG Brotherhood

Air Jordan is a well-known and established style of Nike that honors renowned basketball player Michael Jordan. 

These beauties, in particular, draw inspiration from the Omega Psi Psi crest and are well-designed with a vibrant gold, purple and white classic leather construction.

This color-blocking style is simple yet bold enough to make a statement but also to dress it in an understated way. These signature shoes are also available locally on  La Familia, which also ships nationwide.


Nike Dunk Low Retro Sun Club Multi 

The Nike Dunk Low Nike Sun Club takes the classic Nike Dunk Low's timeless design and adds a dash of sunshine. 

The toe box is animated by a cool blush tone, and the side panels have a sea blue colour on the medial face and a darker salmon-pink shade on the lateral side.

The heel is lime green, continuing the rich colour scheme. The design is cheerfully finished with mocha tumbled leather overlays, lemon-yellow swooshes, pink laces, and a smiling sun Nike emblem at the heel.

An understated outsole in pastel green completes the look. These one-of-a-kind multi-coloured pastel gems can be sourced locally from South Africa's favourite marketplace Wisi-Oi.

Nike Air Max 1 Kasina Won-Ang Orange

This legendary collaboration honors tradition and legacy by giving the shoe that introduced 'Air' to the Nike space and the rest of the world. 

These sneakers have a marital touch with the colorful top containing a colorful Won-Ang embroidered on the heel and a pattern of two ducks coming together underneath the translucent outsole.

The Won-Ang, or Mandarin ducks, symbolize unity and love. Every day becomes a special occasion because of the rich texture and velvety suede, while unique accents like the Won-Ang key chain and wooden dubrae. You can source this one-of-a-kind sneaker from Story in Cape Town, South Africa.


Nike Dunk Lemon Twist

This retro basketball sneaker is given a sunny pastel makeover. This design takes the classic high-top dunks and adds a "twist". The leather top features a crisp white base with pink forefoot and heel overlays, lavender eye stays, and lavender eye stays.

The recognizable swoosh is given a neutral cream finish. The woven tongue tag and sock liner are adorned with typical Nike branding. A sturdy rubber cupsole supports the high top with a sticky traction pattern that Nike initially created for college hardwood. 

You can do so much with this unique shoe, and you can get it through the Wisi-Oi Marketplace.

Nike Jordan 1 Mid Noble Red

Air Jordans are always a must-have in any sneaker lover's wardrobe. The classic high-top style lets you style this signature sneaker with almost everything.

 The mid-top Air Jordan features white leather on the toe and Swoosh with Black leather overlays on the toe, side panels, and upper collar.

These Noble Reds are used around the heel, completed with a solid White rubber sole. Fantastic and really durable shoes will have exceptional support. 

To find more of these, browse Wisi-Oi's marketplace.


Final Thoughts

Wherever you source your vintage Nike sneakers, keep these points in mind when shopping. 

With this guide, you should be ready to purchase your first or second pair of vintage Nike sneakers.

1 comment

  • Danielle Hamilton

    I bought Nike shoes in the 1990s from The Finish Line store in Atlanta, GA thatI cannot find a picture of anywhere and I was hoping you could help me identify them. Tbey had two satin flaps that folded over the laces to conceal them. Leavi g the shoe looking sexy & sleek. Two satin covered flaps that folded left then right over the top of the laces concealing them entirely. Can you help me?

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