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25 Classic Kicks

FN counts off the sneaker styles that defined the times, made reputations and empowered generations of fans.

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Puma Clyde

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Puma Clyde

The low-cut kicks Puma called the Clyde have become one of the most recognizable shoes of all time. Created in 1973 for legendary New York Knicks point guard Walt Frazier, the shoes honored Frazier’s desire for a wider fit, and with their grippy outsole and suede upper, they became the newest thing in basketball shoes. Embroidered on the side was “Clyde,” a nickname other players had given Frazier for his outlandishly sharp outfits and on-court ball steals, both of which put his fellow players in mind of high-style gangster Clyde Barrow. The style made waves off-court as well, becoming the first non-canvas sneaker to emerge from basketball as a legitimate leisure style. Embraced by hip-hop — and those who liked to spray paint the sides of subway cars — the Clyde was also the progenitor of personalized kicks. Fashion-savvy Clyde wearers were known for customizing their pairs by coloring in the wide band of leather that served as the Puma logo and matching up new laces. Puma, like other athletic brands, would later create a design-your-own program that built on what the Clyde wearers had started. But fans of the low-profile style will still have to break out the markers if they can’t find the right color combo among the many Puma offerings: The Clyde isn’t currently on the customize-your-own menu.

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