Space travel is amazing, let’s face it. Since its inception in the late 1950s with the Space Race, astronauts and exploratory missions to the moon have remained one of the mankind’s greatest achievements. Over the years, the purpose of understanding more outside our own atmosphere has kept many scientists asking the big questions. Now we’ve got the emotional science talk out the way, it’s time to talk about space sneakers!
Over the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic rise in space-themed sneakers. Whether it’s Nike honouring the Apollo 11 crew or adidas giving Kobe Bryant “space Moon boots”, sneakers and space have gone hand in hand. It’s an unlikely inspiration but one that has created some of the most desirable sneakers on the planet. With Elon Musk’s SpaceX launch imminent, we thought it was about time we rounded up some of the best space sneakers on the planet.
We’ll be taking a look at some of the greatest space shoes of all time, explaining the origin and design purpose behind each. With so many classic space sneakers out there, we picked 10 of our favourites. Without further delay, let’s take a look at KLEKT’s top 10 space-themed shoes.
Disclaimer: these are in no particular order!
Premier x Saucony “Life on Mars” (2014)
Kicking off this list with two classic sneakers, we have the Premier x Saucony Shadow 6000 “Life on Mars.” Released in 2014, the collaboration was one of the standout space shoes of the decade. As you can see, there was a clear mission objective when it came to this pack. Inspired by the closest planet to earth, the Life on Mars pack had to make this list, for good reason.
Utilising perforated suede and nubuck, the Life on Mars Saucony Shadow 6000s feature premium materials across the upper. A contrasting sock liner and split colour midsole separate the deep red of the above. Dropping in two colourways, light and dark side, the sneakers quickly sold out on release day. Since then, Saucony space shoes have become a bit of a regular occurrence. Its this pack that kickstarted it all off.
Nike Air Max 90 “Moon Landing” (2014)
In 2014, NASA was celebrating the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. The historic event that happened almost half a decade earlier was and still is, one of the greatest achievements carried out by a living human being. Neil Armstrong’s famous words “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” is a quote that is as iconic as the moon landing itself. In order to celebrate the achievement 45 years later, Nike created the “Moon Landing” Air Max 90.
Featuring a crater print across the entire upper, the “Moon Landing” Air Max 90s were a fitting tribute to the Apollo 11 team. The Nike Apollo sneakers featured a Lunarlon sole, neutral grey laces and an American Flag split across the heel tabs. However, it was the entirely 3M reflective upper that caught many people’s eye. The Nike Air Max 90 “Moon Landing” was an instant success, quickly reselling for almost six times the price. In 2019, Nike repeated the design with the “Mars Landing” Air Max 90s to complete the pack.
ISS National Lab x adidas Ultraboost 20 (2019)
Whilst all of the aforementioned sneakers are space inspired, very few of them will have ever ventured into space. In 2019, adidas unveiled an unlikely partnership with the International Space Station’s National Laboratory. The partnership saw adidas work closely with the ISS National Lab to learn more about its Boost technology. The result was a stripped-back, performance peaked silhouette that created waves in the sneaker community.
Using adidas’ Ultraboost silhouette, the ISS tweaked the Boost ever so slightly and even added TFP to the Primeknit upper. The improved materials meant that the sneaker was lighter than its predecessors, with additional touches like the sturdy 3D heel frame replacing the flimsy plastic. Subtle branding was used on the tongue tag, with the ISS stamp of approval front and centre. Of course, the gradient Ultraboost midsole was also a nice touch too.
Nike SB Dunk High “Mork & Mindy” (2006)
Whilst very few sneakerheads will remember (or even know) about Mork & Mindy, it is a TV show that was vital in turning the late great Robin Williams into a household name. Released in 1978, Mork & Mindy is about a family who lives with an alien called Mork, from the planet Ork. The character was famous for his red and silver suit, something that became an instantly recognisable costume of the era. In 2006, Nike decided to pay tribute to the character with a special SB Dunk.
Featuring the same colour blocking as Mork’s costume, the Nike SB Dunk high used a red leather upper with an eye-catching silver mid panel and Swoosh. A set of white laces and a white sockliner balance the rouge out, whilst the bright red midsole is contrasted by a semi-translucent sole unit bring it together. Selling out instantly on release day, the Mork & Mindy Dunks have remained a serious collector’s pair. With the growing popularity around Dunks growing, you can expect the price on these to rise.
Ministry of Supply x New Balance 574 “MOS NB 574” (2018)
Whilst the New Balance 574 remains one of the most recognisable running silhouettes of all time, it has remained largely unchanged throughout its history. Reinventing a 30-year-old silhouette can be tough, but somehow Ministry of Supply managed to do it back in 2018. Using cutting edge fabrics and technology, MoS managed to create a futuristic New Balance that was inspired by the Moon landing in 1969.
The two worked together to create a story of the moon. Merging MoS’ passion for lightweight materials and technology, the 574 used a grey Lunar suede throughout. A slightly blueish hint can be spotted through the upper, with a set of white laces and a white “N” motif gives the shoe that “dark side of the moon” vibe. Finishing the shoe off was a split coloured ENCAP midsole and Lunar insoles for good measure.
Nike SB Dunk “Jedi” (2004)
Nike has always loved referencing cultural icons in its sneakers, even if it sometimes gets into trouble. For us, it just means that the rebellious approach to sneakers is still alive. After the backlash surrounding the Nike SB Dunk “Heineken” in 2003, Nike had to get a little bit more creative. Taking one of the most iconic film franchises of all time, Nike experimented with a number of colours and materials to create the “Jedi” Dunk.
Just like the Heineken Dunks, this was another respectful tribute, so to say. Using the Star Wars characters a reference, the sneaker is a fitting homage to a certain Master Jedi. Green leather overlays are accented by soft tan suede and a brown leather Swoosh. Furthermore, neon green laces and stitching, as well as a brown midsole and translucent outsole make this one of the best SB Dunks of all time. As you would expect, the prices have skyrocketed since Travis Scott has brought the silhouette back.
Nasa x Vans Old Skool “Space Voyager” (2018)
Official collaborations with NASA are certainly hard to come by. As one of the most prestigious organisations on the planet, convincing it to let them make space sneakers may have been tough. However, it seems like Vans was the luckiest company in the universe in 2018. After the success of the previous NASA x Vans collaboration earlier in the year, the two joined forces again to create a “Space Voyager” pair of Old Skools.
Taking inspiration from the white spacesuits that are synonymous with space travel, Vans decked out the Old Skool in premium white leather accented by tonal stitching. A large “John F. Kenndey Space Center” stamp is on the mid-foot, with additional details like “Shuttle Mission” tags on the tongue, a removable velcro American flag patch and a schematic print sole all adding to the sneaker. Whilst it may not be a desirable pair of Old Skools, it’s certainly eye-catching.
Nike Air Foamposite One NRG “Galaxy” (2012)
There was no way we could go through this list without mentioning the Galaxy Foamposites. Released during All-Star Weekend of 2012, the Nike Air Foamposite One NRG “Galaxy” created a level of hype not seen since the Air Yeezy launch. Featuring a paint job that depicted the cosmos, a light blue sole and a tag that said “Remove Before Flight”, the sneaker was an instant hit. Of course, this also meant that it was ridiculously difficult when trying to cop.
Launched around the world on February 24th, 2012 the Galaxy Foamposites are one of the most memorable shoe releases of the 2010s. Assigned to very select stores globally, campouts began happening days before the release. Carrying a retail price of €250, this was not a cheap sneaker. However, the reselling price quickly rose to almost 10 times that price. In fact, one Reddit user was willing to trade his car for a pair.
This is one of the most iconic Nike Air Foamposites all time. The fact that it’s space-themed just makes it all that better.
David Z x ASICS Gel-Lyte III “Vader”
Though this may be a David Z collaboration, it’s really Ronnie Fieg’s work. As many sneakerheads will know, Fieg worked at his uncle’s eponymous shoe store in New York before founding Kith. Starting out as a stock room boy before eventually heading up the creative and marketing side, Ronnie Fieg was the man responsible for bringing back hype around ASICS Gel-Lyte III. This “Vader” iteration is exactly the reason why.
Taking inspiration from the infamous Star Wars villain Darth Vader, the sneaker features a perforated leather upper and black patent leather throughout. Splashes of red on the eyelets, as a well as a tricolour midsole, give the shoe a subtle hint of the inspiration. Quickly selling out in 2008, the sneaker has since become a cornerstone of Ronnie Fieg’s work with ASICS. If you’re looking to get your hands on these, good luck. Pairs rarely come up and if they do they’re not cheap.
Tom Sachs x Nike Mars Yard 2.0 (2017)
Closing this list off, we have arguably the greatest space sneaker of all time: the Tom Sachs x Nike Mars Yard. Inspired by Tom Sachs years of art inspired by space, Nike worked with the American contemporary artist to create a sneaker fit for the universe. Using a simple cream, tan and red colour combo, the sneaker was distributed to select people at the end of a Tom Sachs space camp. Since then, it’s taken on a hype of its own.
Whilst this may not be the original, the slightly improved version just outweighs its predecessor. Nike and Tom Sachs revisited the silhouette in 2017 to give it some much-needed updates. Firstly, the Vectran upper, though light, was susceptible to fatigue over time. The insoles were also replaced and the midsole unit underwent some changes. The Tom Sachs x Nike Mars Yard 2.0 is a perfect combination of space and sneakers. With a 2.5 on the way, we can’t wait to see what’s in store.
We hope you enjoyed this piece on the top 10 space sneakers! As you can imagine, there were a lot of sneakers to choose from. Some honourable mentions include the Kobe VII “All-Star”, Nike LeBron 9 “Big Bang” and the Kobe adidas Space Shoes. If you’re looking for a new pair of sneakers and don’t want to scour the galaxy, then head over to KLEKT! We’ve got enough sneakers to kit out the entire NASA squad.