The Sneaker World Craze

The sneaker is not really an aristocratic shoe. Born out of functionality, it was a shoe of the people, used solely for the purposes of work and athletic play and now is the foremost shoe in the world. This countries athletic shoe market is a formidable industry, bringing in up to 13 Billion dollars worth of revenue every year. Originally sneakers were lauded for their performance ability, and, although sneakers like that still exist, they have become a fashion statement as much as any other shoe.

Youth culture is particularly influential on the sneaker market. From Fast Time at Ridgemont High in 1981 to other movies featuring Keds and Converse in the 1980’s and 90’s, it is clear that youth drives athletic shoe market. Sneakers have come a very long way in the past one hundred years. There was a time where there was no difference between a left and right shoe and they were used strictly for their functional purposes. Keds were the first sneakers on the market and were produced in 1917. They were followed by Converse and later purchased by Stride Rite Corporation in 1979. Shoes have advanced since then to have lights, pressurized air and to be made out of hemp.

The precursor to the sneaker was probably the “plimsoll”, a rubber soled shoes worn in the late 18th century. The first Keds were actually created in 1892 but weren’t mass produced until the aforementioned 1917. Sneakers did not become internationally known until 1924, when Adidas was created by a German man named Adi Dassler. Incidentally, Adi’s brother started up Puma, another famous sneaker company. For some time afterward, sneakers were only used when playing sports. Kids didn’t start to wear them as a fashion until the 1950’s and that’s when the youth culture and athletic shoe culture started to meld and become almost interdependent.

After the kids came the celebrity endorsements. In 1984 Michael Jordan signed on with Nike to promote Air Jordans. The shoes were best sellers long after Michael Jordan retired from the NBA. Even though the first sneakers were simple constructions, the innovations brought forth recently have sky-rocketed the sneaker price to sometimes well over one hundred dollars a pair. This would have been unthinkable to the creators of Keds, a brand that is currently experiencing issues. This much is clear, sneakers are the cross-over artist of shoes and have become wildly popular with a lot more than just athlete.

Author: Dana Bradley -

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