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Where Are Our Beloved Shoe Brands of the '90s Now?

Photo: ABC Productions

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This week, we here at Racked are celebrating all things shoe related. From the world's wackiest heels to the sneakers of our dreams, we'll be exploring the highs and lows of footwear. Welcome to Shoe Week 2013.


Dr. Martens: The preferred shoe of the small and big screen in the '90s?

Of all our wonderful and inexplicable style choices in the '90s, the most wonderful and inexplicable started at the very bottom: Shoes. If it was several inches thick or looked like it could break through most doors, then we would put it on our feet. If you tried to explain arch support, we would exclaim, "As if! Arch support is for nerds!" as we slipped on our lace-ups. Don't blame us; it was a more innocent time.

But how have the footwear brands of the internet's favorite decade fared since our childhoods? Have they adapted to changing times, or do they remain relics of a bygone age? Below we explore the pretty recent past of Steve Madden, Sketchers, Fluevogs, and more in this edition of Where Are They Now.

Dr. Martens
Tai paired silver versions of them with overalls while trying to woo Elton; Clarissa sported them while explaining it all; My So-Called Life was basically an ode to them. Dr. Martens were everywhere. Also, '90s teens were so grounded and had exceptionally toned calves on account of the shoes' combined weight of like 20 pounds.

The whole grunge renaissance thing within the last few years brought the combat boots and chunky sandals back. Socialite-about-town Alexa Chung sports them regularly and model Agyness Deyn is the face of the spring collection plus has her very own clothing collaboration. There are a lot of eyeball prints involved. But if you haven't shopped the shoes since the first Clinton administration, you might want to give the site a once over. There are hundreds of styles that recall the chunkiness of footwear in the '90s without falling onto the cheesy side of retro. Nirvana soundtrack optional.


Sketchers
In 1999, we learned what love is thanks to Skechers and Ten Things I Hate About You. In case you missed the lesson, Bianca explains: "There's a difference between like and love. Because, I like my Skechers, but I love my Prada backpack." And if you love your Skechers like Chastity? "That's because you don't have a Prada backpack."

Prada backback or no, Skechers were street, they were cool, they were...wildly inappropriate. Apparently the brand shilled its tennis shoes with pop-star themed, soft-core porn, but it's a testament to '90s innocence that these ads went right over our heads.

Now in 2013, we're totally on to their game: Kim Kardashian couldn't make us believe that Sketchers Shape-Ups would actually tighten our bums and the Bureau of Consumer Protection Federal Trade Commission wasn't fooled either. The company shilled out $40 million just last May for the exaggerated fitness claims. Thank goodness we only like them, or else we would have felt totally betrayed.


Image via Fluevog
Fluevogs
Part platform, part Victorian throw-back, the Fluevog "Munster" shoe terrorized red carpets and MTV in the early part of the decade. Here's a brief history on Fluevog's own website: "Made famous first by Lady Miss Kier who wore the iconic platforms on the cover of Deee-lite's debut album World Clique, then by Madonna who wore the sexy [Ed Note: Sorry what?] 4" Louis IV heel in Truth or Dare, the Munsters have long become the symbol of the '90s House/Club underground DJ scene." Interest re-piqued? You're in luck. The company re-released several version last fall in honor of its 40th anniversary. We've yet to see it take hold again. Maybe Hedi Slimane's fall runway was a missed opportunity.


Why? via 90smonkey.tumblr.com
Steve Madden
Platforms on the bottom, spandex jersey up top: These shoes were the most comfortable eyesores in wardrobes everywhere. And that's saying a lot because, again, it was the '90s, and Steve Madden also made loafer platforms.

As for the brand, it rose from cult status to fast fashion giant starting in 1990, then fell through some troubled times when Steve Madden, the man, was sentenced to jail time for his money laundering scheme. Now, he's making a cameo Martin Scorsese's upcoming movie The Wolf of Wall Street, which is about Jordan Belfort, the former stockbroker who was convicted for fraud and money laundering in 1998. Madden, who's involvement in the scandal forced him to resign as CEO of the brand to do time from 2002 to 2006, will not play himself in the film. That job is going to Dustin Hoffman's son Jake Hoffman.

All that aside, the company is still kicking and owns Betsey Johnson brand, anything involving shoes and the Olsen twins (ShoeMint, Elizabeth and James and Olsenboye) as well as Stevies, Big Buddha Shoes, Madden, Report, and Superga. Whew. But if you want to shop the old-school platforms, just check Etsy and eBay.


Reebok pumps
Having never owned a pair, we can't attest to the actual point of pumping the little basketball on the tongue of these shoes, but—shoot!—did it look fun (See the video above for instructions on how to use them as told by basketball players circa 1990.)

Because sportswear isn't immune to retro come backs—in fact, it's often on the cutting edge—Reebok has also brought back the line. They sell ATR and The Pump 2.0, which automatically pump as the user walks because it's 2013 suckers. Also, for the record, Rick Ross never repped them.

Adidas Sambas and shower shoes
Adidas is and has been one of the world's most popular athletic footwear brands since they outfitted Olympians in pre-World War II days, so it's hardly fair to claim the shoes for the '90s. But what boy between the ages of seven and seventeen did not have a pair of sambas from like 1993 onward? Some of them even played soccer.

The second ubiquitous style was the unisex slide shower sandal with a sole made of tiny black massage nubs that allegedly sooth foot aches after sports. They did not sooth foot aches; They were just uncomfortable in a pinching sort of way. But everyone just went along with it for a few summers, and when they wanted to be extra offensive, wore socks with them. Shudders.

Both three-striped styles of Adidas are still widely available should you be interested. And if you need inspiration for styling the shower shoes, might we point you in the direction of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who wore them so much in his rise to uber-success that the shoes make a cameo in the The Social Network on the feet of Jesse Eisenberg who plays Zuckerberg (see below). They will most likely stay within in the uniform of the multi-billion dollar nerd until somebody else culturally relevant braves the painful, painful "massage" flops regularly.


Image via CoolSpotters

LA Gear light-up shoes
A hit among the pint-sized '90s folk, light-up shoes were like a rave under your foot. Who knew they could have been deadly? In 1994, LA Gear paid a settlement of $70k after trace amounts of mercury were found in the lights, but they reformulated and still sell them in a variety of colorways today. Also, a bunch of brands who make footwear that double as flare signals continue to be popular among the tiny.


Moon Shoes
Not exactly a fashion shoe, but Moon Shoes were the height of at least one Christmas or birthday in the latter half of the decade if you were really, really good and/or super lucky. They're still sold in new, sweet colors at stores like Toys 'R' Us but they're almost $50. So that's crazy, but still. Moon Shoes.
· What Are Our Beloved Beauty Brands of the '90s Up to Now? [Racked]
· How Have the Fashion Brands of 'Clueless' Fared Since 1995? [Racked]