TikTok, Gen Z’s trend incubator of choice, can’t get enough of Onitsuka Tiger. In recent months, creators have hopped on the app to declare that the Mexico 66 — an Onitsuka signature that debuted at the 1968 Olympic Games pretrials in Mexico — is fashion’s new must-have sneaker.
Akin to Bella Hadid’s beloved adidas Sambas, the Mexico 66 is a simple model bearing striped branding at the lateral. Onitsuka Tiger’s silhouette is slightly more streamlined, thanks to its tapered toe and ultra-thin outsole.
Adding to the Mexico 66’s “it” factor, the shoe comes in a wide range of color combinations. An enduring favorite is Onitsuka Tiger’s “Kill Bill” colorway, a yellow and black iteration that Uma Thurman famously wore in — you guessed it — Kill Bill. Thurman isn’t the only celebrity to don the sporty model: Bruce Lee sported them in 1972’s Game of Death.
On TikTok, the search term “Onitsuka Tiger” boasts over 30 million views, thanks to a slew of unboxing videos showing off the Mexico 66’s many colorways. One video, “liked” over 11,000 times, states with zero explanation: “I think the next it sneaker after adidas sambas will be onitsuka tigers [sic].”
If I may add some exposition: the reign of chunky sneakers like the Balenciaga Tripe S and FILA Disruptor were succeeded by the Nike Dunk and the New Balance 550, sleek models that soured our taste for lug soles and platforms. With its understated look (and Hadid’s co-sign), the adidas Samba is fashion’s most recent posterchild for subtler, vintage-looking footwear — but thanks to the ever-changing trend cycle, the Samba’s time is almost up.
Aesthetically, the Mexico 66 is a cousin of the Samba, rendering the newfound favorite a natural successor to the adidas mainstay. And while Onitsuka Tiger isn’t exactly a small brand, it’s less recognizable than, say, adidas and Nike — Onitsuka Tiger’s “indie” appeal only adds to its cachet.
As a staunch supporter of super-flat sneakers, I don’t need much convincing to board the Tiger train. And hey — if the Mexico 66 is good enough for Uma Thurman and Bruce Lee, it’s good enough for me.