In celebration of our three-month pop-in shop at Fred Segal in Los Angeles beginning tomorrow, October 17, we're celebrating the most "LA" sneakers of all time. From the Nike Cortez, to Kobes, to LA-centric collaborations, here are 25 pairs that any self-respecting Angeleno should own at least a couple of.
No sneaker is more synonymous with Los Angeles than the Nike Cortez. First released in the early days of Nike as one of the brand’s first running shoes, the simple model was adopted in the ‘80s and ‘90s by LA gangs, and it’s been worn by pretty much everybody else in So-Cal, too.
One of the first basketball shoes ever produced, the Chuck would later become the most iconic sneaker of all time. Thanks to its breathable canvas upper and laid-back wearability, it’s also the perfect shoe for all those sunny LA days, worn by those from all walks of life. Even more LA than the average Chuck is this Fear of God edition by local Jerry Lorenzo.
Esteemed Los Angeles streetwear boutique Union LA has been among the premier destinations on the West Coast for those seeking a tightly curated mixture of streetwear, sportswear, and men’s contemporary fashion. Owner Chris Gibbs used trips to the flea markets and original 1985 Air Jordan 1 detailing to outfit his collaborative two-colorways-in-one Air Jordan 1.
Kobe Bryant’s fourth signature performance basketball sneaker with Nike ranks among the top sneakers of the line’s impressive resume of releases. The highly sought after “Carpe Diem” colorway of the Kobe 4 originally released back in 2009 and dropped again to the delight of both Kobe fans and sneakerheads in 2019. Sporting a black and yellow color scheme, the low-top “Carpe Diem” is LA through and through.
A friends and family exclusive limited to only 72 pairs, the militaristic Undefeated x Air Jordan 4 never received an actual retail release. The scarce design is regarded by most as the greatest design among the Los Angeles boutique's rich history of collaborations.
Famed LA graffiti/tattoo artist Mark Machado, A.K.A. Mister Cartoon, created his adored Air Force 1 series in 2005 that pays homage to his Mexican-American and Los Angeles roots.
Another silhouette from the adidas Yeezy imprint, the Powerphase pays homage to the LA County city of Calabasas, which is the residence of Kanye West's family.
The Air Jordan 1 SB “LA to Chicago” is a collaborative sneaker between Jordan Brand and Nike SB that dons a Los Angeles Lakers-themed purple and gold colorway that when worn away, morphs into a classic “Chicago” black and red color scheme underneath.
As West Coast as it gets. The Vans Era, complete with its durable suede and rubber construction, fits into any sneaker rotation imaginable thanks to its low-top silhouette and use of both practical and outlandish color schemes.
Nike SB and Diamond Supply Co. teamed up back in the mid-aughts for a frenzy-inducing collaboration on the Dunk Low. The “Tiffany” colorway still ranks among the greatest releases in the Nike SB Dunk lineage.
Designed by the late Nipsey Hussle before his untimely passing, the PUMA California “TMC” features branding from his inspirational The Marathon Continues clothing line.
Aleali May, a Los Angeles native known in streetwear circles as a forward-thinking stylist and model, fuses streetwear and high-fashion elements on her Air Jordan 1 collaboration. The classic high-top features an LA vibe thanks to its Raiders-esque black and silver colorway.
Eric Koston’s love for the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant shines through on the his inaugural design with Nike SB. The Lakers-leaning colorway, with design elements of the Nike Kobe 6 baked into its DNA, ranks among the most coveted Nike SB releases years after its release.
One of the more scarce Nike Air Force 1 colorways to ever exist, this sneaker trickled out back in 2006 as a promotional pair made exclusively for Turtle of the "Entourage" television show. The bold design features a laser-cut detailing by another Los Angeles staple, Undefeated.
You knew there had to be more than one Mister Cartoon sneaker on this list. The legendary Los Angeles tattoo and graffiti artist took his allegiance to LA one step further in 2017 as he applied his signature graphics to LA’s reigning sneaker champion, the Cortez.
When Kendrick Lamar jumped from Reebok to Nike back in 2017, fans of the famed Los Angeles rapper anxiously waited to see which Nike design he would reinterpret as his own. He ultimately stuck to his roots and remixed the Nike Cortez, a fixture in LA streetwear circles dating back to the 1980s. For his fourth take on the LA icon, he turned the Cortez into another LA staple, the house shoe.
Headlining the 20th anniversary celebration of the Nike Air Max 97 in 2017, LA’s Undefeated created a luxe take on the iconic runner featuring tonal black and white colorways with shining patent leather and repeating logos. An alternate olive green version was produced in even more limited quantities.
Undefeated created a pack of the remastered Nike Kobe 1 in camo-covered ballistic nylon uppers that released as part of a surprise collection for Kobe Bryant Day on 8/24/2018 (8 and 24 were Bryant's numbers with the Lakers). Obviously, none scream “LA” more than this Lakers-colored edition.
Once extremely rare player exclusive colorways created just for Kobe Bryant during his “sneaker free agency” season in 2002-03, the Lakers-colored Air Jordan 3 and Air Jordan 8 were released by Jordan Brand as a just-slightly-less-rare pack to celebrate the Black Mamba’s final NBA season.
In 2006 Stussy teamed with Nike to release a special four-pack of the Dunk High for the streetwear brand’s “Stussy World Tour” project. The limited edition set was created in premium embossed leather constructions for New York, London, Tokyo, and LA, the latter which you see here in black and purple.
Designed by the late DJ AM, this rare Nike Dunk High combines the celebrated musician’s love of sneakers and music. The premium construction features a red leather base with black patent leather overlays. Die-cut circles on the heel with a reflective underlay represent the pattern on the edge of DJ turntables.
Besides being a respected So-Cal based sneaker and streetwear boutique, Blends is known for their “Bones” editions of Vans classics, including the Sk8-Hi. The concept is simple yet creative: replace Vans’ standard “Jazz Stripes” with bones, and build each shoe in premium materials.
Undefeated followed up its Kobe Bryant Day collection of the Kobe 1 Protro in 2018 with a set of the Kobe 4 Protro in 2019, featuring colorways for various “Team Kobe” players currently in the league. The set included this LA-centric colorway for Lakers star Kyle Kuzma.
Converse Weapon "Magic Johnson"
LA Lakers legend Magic Johnson introduced this shoe in its original Lakers colorway with the "Choose Your Weapon" campaign that also featured cross-country rival Larry Bird. The white, gold, and purple, version of the classic hoops shoe is still its most iconic look.