In the recent generation times, all activities almost come to a halt for a while when an iconic fashion brand drops a new sneaker and the news hits the streets. Right from the famous 80’s, the sneaker has undergone major transformations through the streets into fashion runways, sports and has also been associated with the pop culture. The major food for thought however, is how did it get there?
The sneaker history begins way before the world wars; back in 1917 when the U.S. Rubber Company produced the first ever canvas shoes which are now well known as “Keds”. These went viral but were quickly overtaken by Converse’s renowned “All Stars” and OG sneakerheads, which were approved by Chuck Taylor. The sneaker revolution went worldwide in 1924 with an increase in production caused by the naissance of The Puma and Adidas brands by the German – native Adi Dassler together with his brother.
As we see further into the 80’s when sports and hip hop had began becoming a culture and Nike was producing great athletic kicks for the sportspersons. September 1984 marked a new dawn for sneakerheads with the introduction of Nike’s iconic Jordan 1’s, which paved the way for more iconic brands to follow, including the Airmax 1s, Air Force 1s , Adidas Shelltoes among others. With the rise in hip hop culture and many brand producers like Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Puma and others around this time, the sneakerheads grew very influential and were owned by almost everyone especially in the suburbs who could lay their hands on them.
The late 90s saw the interest of large and small fashion houses in the “streetwear”, a move that was introduced with very unclear reactions. The major drawback was said to be the lack of distinguished connection between the designers and the “street cultures” they were trying to copy from. The perspective – changer for “streetwear” designs were reputable brands like Fubu and Roca Wear. They created a mainstreaming platform where young designers could easily and directly interact not only with their target audience but also with their cultural origins. In this way, younger designers based their clothes and shoe designs to match their audience’s rich cultures.
Sneakerheads stopped being “just a brand” but people were now trying to center their dressing styles on these brands. This was seen evidently by the difference in styles amongst skater kids, basketball diehards, and tennis balers, among others. In support of these subcultures, Nike products never disappointed its markets. The flow of style was rather reversed here, instead of coming from runways to the streets now inspiration and designs came from the streets. As a result, these brands ultimately gave birth to extraordinarily victorious streetwear legends like Supreme, which merged the gap between “Streetwear” and “Fashion”.
Early 2000’s saw the popularity of sneaker fashions grow at a point that any release from the legendary brands was almost treated as a worldwide event; for example in 2005 there were riots over limited release of the Nike “Pigeon” Dunk SB and it made national headlines in the states. Skate shoes like Nike SB and Vans among others also resurfaced into the mainstream during this period.
This brought about numerous collaborations between iconic Fashion Houses and their sneaker counterparts, like Palace involving Reebok, M.I.A. partnering with Versace, everyone associating with Converse and so on. Different designers like John Varvatos are incorporating major sneakerheads into their pieces. The combination of limited versions of sneakerheads and fashion brands has set the “oldschool” sneakers back to the “fashionable” shelves sector.
With the rapid advancement in technology, we just wait and wonder what next to expect from the sneaker world. With their humble background, sneakerheads have managed to influence different cultures worldwide by in their sense of style. They are truly a fashion statement, which is not going away any time soon. They are unarguably here to stay.