You probably heard about the popular Adidas Samba trainers taking over everybody’s wardrobe in 2022. If you didn’t, that’s okay! The shoes to know about in 2023 are none other than the Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66

If the name rings any bell, that’s because the trainers have a long story tying them to sports and pop culture. Remember Uma Thurman’s iconic yellow look in the official poster of Kill Bill? Well, she’s wearing a pair of Onitsuka Tiger’s Mexico 66 trainers. And now, the shoes are making a grand nostalgia-fueled comeback.  

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Nike’s Predecessor

As the name suggests, these running shoes were first introduced in 1966 during the pre-trials for the Mexico Olympic Games. The Mexico 66 debuted the signature “Tiger Stripes” trademark, a set of geometric figures that synthesized the animal print motif. When years later, Onitsuka Tiger merged to become Asics, the brand retained the Tiger Stripes and introduced them as a recurrent detail. 

However, prior to the launch, the Japanese brand Onitsuka Tiger had already made a name for itself as a sports brand worn by Olympic champions and teams. With important technical innovations, Onitsuka Tiger had previously provided the shoes for the Etyphian champion Abebe Bikila and the Japanese team competing in the Tokyo 1964 Summer Olympics. The brand even exported shoes for Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman’s Blue Ribbon Sports (later renamed Nike), eventually creating the Nike Cortez design inspired by the Onitsuka Tiger shoes. 

From a Pop Culture Cult Item to Gen Z’s Favorite Sneaker  

Combining design and functionality, the Mexico 66 design attained pop culture relevance through onscreen appearances in films such as Game of Death and, later — as an homage to the martial arts classic — Kill Bill. Worn by Bruce Lee and Uma Thurman, the Mexico 66 left a lasting imprint that many Gen Z icons are reprising in 2023. Celebrities such as Kaia Gerber, Addison Rae, and Suki Waterhouse are loyal fans of these kicks. 

Now, their vintage appeal has put the Mexico 66 back on the fashion radar. The shoe has been particularly well-loved in 2022 and 2023, fueled by the rise of the blokecore trend. During summer, as it coincided with the FIFA Women’s World Cup, many opted for combining their Mexico 66 with football (soccer) jerseys, baggy jeans, and long skirts. 

The Most Versatile Kicks

Others have chosen to remain loyal to the design’s origin as a running trainer. On platforms like TikTok and Instagram, people style their sneakers with track jackets or hoodies paired with mini skirts, jeans, and even dresses. Accessories such as mini bags and headsets seem pretty popular for some fashion aficionados wearing the Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66.      

But the real allure of these sneakers is versatility. Despite their sportive appearance, the shoes can be easily paired with elevated staples. In fall, celebrities and influencers are layering warm-toned knitwear and denim looks with trenchcoats, blazers, or structured outerwear and adding a pair of Mexico 66 for contrast. 

Color-wise, the kicks’ yellow and black iteration might be the most famous, but Onitsuka Tiger has other equally popular colorways. From a black version with white stripes to a full white version, the shoe is bold or lowkey as you want it to be. True to their name, the trainers also come in a red and green model that nods at the Mexican flag. 

Now that you know everything about the most coveted sneakers of the year, do you find the appeal? Would you jump in the Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 craze?