Athletic shoes have made their mark on the way we dress, in our style, and as well as in our lives. Many names have been used to describe them. We call them trainers, kicks or sneakers. These shoes have developed and become part of our daily clothes since its invention in the 18th century. In fact today you an find whole basketball shoe reviews sites focused on past and upcoming highly anticipated releases of the major basketball shoe brands.
During the late 18th century, people wore rubber-soled shoes called “plimsols.” Plimsols have no right or left foot. In 1892, the United States Rubber Company came up with rubber footwear divisions. The U.S. Rubber Company manufactured footwear brands with many comfortable shoes using canvas tops under the name “Keds” in 1916. It was mass produced in 1917 as the first flexible rubber-sole. They got the name “sneakers” because the shoes were quiet that a person wearing them could be able to sneak up on someone.
Sneakers now trend in fashion, thanks to the people who made it famous either by endorsing it or just by using it. There are now different brands of sneakers that have become popular. Let’s start with the famous Chuck Taylor.
After the World War 1, governments realized how people are physically unprepared for battle. The governments prompted a large-scale push for fitness. People then rushed to the gyms and opportunist industrialists take the big chance.
Industrialists started mass producing sneakers with lower prices. Since then, it democratizes what had been once a wealth status. The Converse Rubber Shoe Company wants to set themselves apart. They want to improve their basketball shoe – All-Star – so the company drafted a basketball player to stand out among the rest.
Charles “Chuck” Taylor is an Indiana Hoops star. In 1920s, he offered some design changes to Converse focusing the development in the sports basketball. The All-Star was the world’s first high-top extending the canvas all the way around the ankle. It provides the same support as a boot but with a grip and lightweight. Since then, the design has remained mostly the same for over 90 years.
Chuck Taylor endorsed the Converse All Star brand in 1923. The shoes are much known as the “Chuck Taylor All-Star” and the shoes are started being worn by basketball players. Now, we can see kids and teens wearing Chucks everywhere. Chuck Taylor All-Stars are the best top selling sneakers of all time.
The All-Star began to take hold in the sneaker making around the United States. While in Germany, German brothers named Adolf “Adi” Dassler and Rudolf “Rudi” Dassler created a sneaker in 1924. They persuaded the United States sprinter Jesse Owens to use them at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Jesse Owens won four gold medals. Unfortunately, the two splits in 1948 creating two different shoes manufacturing company.
Adi Dassler named his company after him calling it “Adidas.” While Rudi named his company “Puma.” Since the split, the two companies had a fierce and bitter rivalry.
The town, Herzogenaurach, where the Dasslers started their business was divided because of the issue where people looked down to identify which shoes the strangers wore. The town had a nickname, “the town of bent necks.” Soon, both companies became among of the most popular athletic brands in the world.
Marlon Brando and James Dean
Sneakers were most popular as sports shoes and it is rarely seen on the streets. However, in the 1950s, actors Marlon Brando and James Dean wore sneakers to incorporate to their on-screen personas in their movies. After the actors were seen on their respected films, kids and teens started wearing sneakers as fashion statements. Sneakers started to be seen as part of fashion and as a streetwear.
Michael Jordan is a basketball star from Chicago Bulls. He signed a five-year endorsement deal in 1984. He was just a rookie shooting guard at that time. His contract includes an exclusive new shoe for him to wear and promote, it is called “Air Jordan.”
The sneakers were colored red-and-black to match his basketball uniform. But it was initially banned by National Basketball Association(NBA) commissioner David Stern. Stern mandated that shoes should be majority white when worn on the basketball court. Jordan didn’t stop in wearing it and Nike paid the 5,000 dollars fine after each game.
The shoes were released in 1985 and helped established the modern sneakerhead culture. Sneakerhead culture is a community of sneaker collectors who follow new releases of sneakers with dedication. Air Jordan paved the way to sneakers’ status as a cultural icon.
Air Jordan was the most famous sneaker ever made. Air Jordan continues to be best sellers even when Jordan retired from the NBA.
As the shoe companies competed, they changed the way how their sneakers look. They added wild colors and began to produce sneakers for every sport such as basketball, skateboarding, “cross training”, and more. The sneakers transcended the bounds of practicality and became part of fashion. Athletic shoes transformed from specific purpose to street wear to being one of the basic clothing options worldwide.