Most Popular Sneakers in Turkey

Sneakers in Istanbul

When it comes to sneakers, the Turks have excellent taste. Sneaker stores don't go brand crazy and carry any sneaker style just to represent a brand, they select their sneakers based on the going style -- which is predominately based on basic classics. Crazy styles with ballistic colorways don't suit their fancy. Instead, they like retro vintage sneakers, with sharp, sleek colorways. Though Adidas and Puma are popular in surrounding countries, Asics, Nike, Converse, and New Balance reign Turkey. Onitsuka Tiger has more visibility and shelf space than any other brand. Next to it, is New Balance.

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Asics Onitsuka Tiger

Almost all hipster fashion stores carry Onitsuka Tiger sneakers and boots somewhere near their entrance as you walk in. Styles you don't find in the west can easily be found in Turkey. For instance, I saw a lot of Asics high tops, and Asic snow boots in various models with pom-poms that I've never seen in the States. Also, their sneaker color schemes are way cooler than what is found in America. The Ultimate 81 is the most popular sneaker model, followed by the Mexico 66, Fabre, and Asics Serrano Classic. Again, Turks like very simple classic sneaker styles. Somewhere along the Turkish fashion history timeline, Asics replaced Adidas.

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New Balance

The coolest variety of New Balance sneakers can be found in Turkey. In the United States, stores usually try to stay current with new models, but in Turkey, classic styles are eternal. So retro is the way to go and forever stay. For this reason, those that truly love sneakers for style versus athletic purposes, will LOVE the store inventories in Istanbul. Instead of chunky or "high-tech" kicks, the Turks like sleek sneakers that are versatile, simple, and universal in style. The most popular models found in the big cities are New Balance 420, 574, 410, 996, and the 1300.

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Converse are not that visible during the fall or winter in Turkey. However, during the summer, they are seen all over the place. Just take a simple trip on any metro in the country and you will see what I mean. Teens and women love the Chuck Taylors in highs or lows.

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Often found gracing the walls of rural Turkish stores is the local brand called Jump. Sold for roughly $30, the kicks are considered the standard street shoe for those with no style taste or brand preference whatsoever. If a Turk is looking for a simple sneaker that will get him from point A to point B, then this is his pick.

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If you ask a Turk, what are your favorite sneakers, he/she will say, "Nike or Adidas". However, the truth is, Nike and Adidas are the LEAST visible sneakers on the streets -- and in the stores! I'm positive the answer would change if the question was asked by a native Turk rather than an American. I'm also positive the common answer was intentionally skewed simply to demonstrate their knowledge of western style, because the real truth can be seen on the streets, and in the clubs where the real street culturati and urban fashionistas come out to play. After covering several cities in Turkey, it is very safe to say that Nike is rarely visible. Even in the hip-hop and graffiti scenes, where the fastest MC in the world reigns, very commercial skate brands like Etnies are preferred over Nike or Adidas. Let's just say, that Nike only has store space to fit an image -- one that shows that Turks are on top of the sneaker scene and know Nike. But Nike's steep price tag is often 70% higher than other sneakers, including Nike sneakers in America, making them the least "street-friendly". And by commanding high prices for Nike imports, sneaker stores usually are forced to offer a very slim selection. I only included Nike on the list to show how it weighs and differs in terms of regional brand preference; otherwise, they really don't belong on it.