What Are Those?! – 6 Memorable Pairs of Shoes that Defined My Childhood


In honor of the “what are those” viral craze, I’ve decided to take a look back at some of the memorable shoes that defined my childhood.

Table of Contents

Sometimes parents get it right, and sometimes they get it way wrong when it comes to kids and their ever-changing, increasingly expensive trends. Pass or fail, shoes are a part of everyone’s lives and can either afford you the adoration of your peers or jeers from the cool kids’ table in the lunchroom. With that said, let’s take a look back at 6 pairs of the most memorable shoes from my childhood—the good, the bad, and the ultra-poop.

Hush Puppitos — Versatility Isn’t Always Pretty

Face it, every kid had a pair of the original red-bottoms; rough suede uppers, pinkish-red bottoms, cardboard shoestrings… These things were put to work by parents everywhere. Fortunately and unfortunately I had cords and cardigans to pair these babies with every day to school for the first 2-3 years of elementary. #urkel

Voit (Knock-off Jordans) — Why Do My Parents Hate Me?

Speaking of “what are those”… I cringe every time I think about the Voit sneakers I had. Now, mine weren’t quite as fashionable as the ones pictured here, nor were they accepted as ‘cool kid’ attire by my peers at school. So, as you can imagine, I was clowned heavily when I walked into class for the first time rocking my Voit kicks that looked eerily similar to the Jordan IX that had been released that year.

Parents, rule number one: if you’re going to buy bargain clothes or shoes, don’t think you’re doing your kid a favor getting anything that looks like or resembles a more popular item, if that item isn’t the genuine article. You’re just putting a target on your kid’s back to be ridiculed, effectually and fervently. I know I was, but in the Adams’ house, you wore shoes until you couldn’t wear them suckers anymore. #coldword

Pro-Keds — Keds Are for Girls

I got these babies somewhere around the 4th or 5th grade and boy were they something! Aside from the known fact that Keds were only for girls only (not actually but as stated in the schoolyard style code of ethics rule 2B section 7-5). Being the tiny kid that I was, when I put them on they came all the way up to just past my knees (almost literally) and had straps on the top (not pictured). Did I mention they were something called Pro-Keds?

I can NOT tell you the ‘splaining’ I had to do when I shuffled (from their sheer weight and volume) through the double doors of Bessemer Elementary with these bad boys on — wearing, yes, a knit cardigan and turtleneck… #smh

British Knights — Foreign Imports

I ain’t gonna lie… BK’s were legit back in the day. When I got my first pair of British Knights I was feeling myself something serious. When I took my walks through the halls I made sure to keep my stroll a good distance away from the ‘kids with Jordan’s’ crew but not too far from the ‘I’m still wearing Payless’ crew and needless to say, I got mad love. I finally had a pair of shoes that I could own and not feel completely ostracized in. #thanksmom #shegetsit


Ewing’s – Unappreciated Classics

I’m pretty sure I was too young to appreciate what the Ewing’s were to the sneaker scene. When I got these I kinda thought they were “just okay” and didn’t really know how to feel wearing a brand that wasn’t what all the other kids were wearing at the time. If you ask any sneakerhead now, these boys are lauded as gems to the game. Either way, I remember my brother and I, in our turtle necks and cardigans, walking up to the yard with these classic shoes and feeling rather froggy. We were coming up in the game. #status

Barkley’s – I’ve Arrived!

The Barkley Air Force 180 was my very first Nike shoe. I got it in like 1st or 2nd grade and felt like a king when I wore them. I had the all black ones with red, orange, and purple accents and I wore the brakes off of them. You couldn’t tell me anything. These would go well with my cardi and cords combos. #balling

Honorable Mention: LA Gear – But They’re Not the Light Ups Though…

When LA Gear hit the scene in the early 90s, it “lit” up the sneaker world and created a whole new lane for athletic fashion. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a pair until well after the wave had peaked and fizzled into sea foam. I was the kid with the retro LA Gears—and they didn’t even light up… Sigh… #missedthewave

Throwback Thursday – LA Gear Lit Up Sneaker & Pop Culture in the 90’s
Read More


  1. Jeff Wro Avatar

    This article made me laugh. My parents pulled the same shit with the Voit sneakers. Voit Air Thunders. I actually am interested in seeing what they look like again and I can’t find an image anywhere.

  2. Kwame Som-Pimpong Avatar
    Kwame Som-Pimpong

    British Knights. Wow, that took me back. Kwadwo and I were foolish and insisted on calling them BK Knights. Nobody told us there was only one K.

    1. Dexter Adams Avatar

      BRO!!! HAHAHA We called them the same thing! You literally just blew my mind. HAHA!