Legend has it that then-unknown NBA rookie Michael Jordan was poised to endorse the Sonic Spotbilt sneaker. Though this anecdote remains an intriguing if unverified bit of sports history lore, it’s interesting to consider where the basketball sneaker could have gone.
Though Saucony is known as a running shoe company, it spent the 1980s focused on basketball with several high-profile basketball deals, including the Hangtime and Xavier “the X-Man” McDaniel’s X-Press Pro-model silhouette.
The Spotbilt Sonic was integral to that era, made with leather sourced from India and rubber from Vietnam and styling typical of the times.
The Wolverine-owned label dropped the throwback Sonic Spotbilt as the first sneaker to kick off Saucony’s 125th anniversary and the Spring/Summer 2023 season.
“The difference is huge in the sense that we can innovate through our heritage and bring [the Spotbilt] back from the archives with the strong authenticity of the brand,” Andrea Rogg, vice president and global general manager of Saucony Original, said, regarding the original sneaker and new release. “We are able to really create the connection with the consumers since we are 125 years [old] with strong roots.”
The Sonic Spotbilt by Saucony is available in its original colorway, in both high and low top editions in unisex sizing, with a perforated vamp and quarter for breathability. The shoes are being produced on-demand and are not a limited-edition release.
Nostalgia is a powerful element for brands reviving old favorites or simply harkening back to a romanticized past.
In 2020, a capsule collection with Polish streetwear brand MISBHV celebrated Reebok’s ’80s fitness era with a range of decade-themed sportswear. In December, Grammy Award-winning R&B singer-songwriter SZA collabed with Crocs on ‘90s-inspired faded denim allover print sandals and clogs.
And old-school sneakers seem to be back in vogue as well.
Last October, Reebok announced the return of its BB 4000 II, a lifestyle basketball sneaker from the brand’s 1980s “BB” footwear range. In 1986, following the company’s successes in tennis and aerobics, Reebok introduced its “BB” footwear series which—throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s—put forth disruptive court sneakers and irreverent ads that injected new energy into basketball culture. In 1989, Reebok would release the BB 4000 II, an evolution of its low-cut BB 4000, one of its first basketball sneakers to cross over from court to street.
In 2021, Puma debuted the second iteration of J. Cole’s signature basketball sneaker, The Dream 2 “January 28,” a mid-silhouette meant to be worn on and off the court. A 2021 FILA collaboration with Grant Hill played homage to the former NBA star iconic Sprite commercials during his ‘90s heyday.
Founded in 1898, Saucony is a global running lifestyle brand that fuses performance, innovation and style to create footwear and apparel with its recognized brands, Saucony and Saucony Originals.
The Sonic Spotbilt is available online and at select boutiques such as Le Bon Marché in Paris and Beams Japan in Tokyo, with prices ranging from $110 to $140.