Those shoes that you just can’t live without, that you use for working out, doing yard work, walking, running or just hanging out – the sneaker – has a fascinating history.
The sneaker has been around since the 1800s when the Industrial Revolution took hold on America and rubber began being produced. Sneakers were once called plimsolls when they were first made in the 1800s as a plain rubber soled shoe. Goodyear, now a tire manufacturer, began as a rubber shoe company and in 1892 introduced Keds Ò to the world. The word “sneaker” was also introduced to the world about a decade later when an advertising agent gave these rubber soled shoes the name sneakers because the soles were so quiet and didn’t make any noise on any surface.
Converse was the next company to release a sneaker to the world in 1917. They called it the Converse All Star and it was the shoe worn by basketball players. This shoe – the Converse All Star – later became the Chuck Taylor All Star and became a necessity to basketball players, kids and others for more than 50 years.
Adi and Rudolph Dassler introduced the first shoe used for tennis, or the tennis shoe, in 1931 and the brand name Adidas was born. Soon after Rudolph Dassler teamed with Puma Schuhfabrik to produce the Puma brand shoe for football.
It took until the 1950s for sneakers to be the preferred footwear of teenagers after James Dean was photographed wearing his jeans and white sneakers. Girls and boys wore their sneakers as a symbol of rebellion.
In 1968 the sneaker giant Nike enters the sneaker scene after Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman partner to create Blue Ribbon Sports shoes which was later changed to Nike after the Greek Goddess of Victory. In 1971 the famous Nike swoosh was bought from a graphic design student for a mere $35! In 1979 Nike created the first Nike Air sole shoe claiming a revolutionary air-cushioning shoe. They introduce the first shoe using this technology called the Nike Tailwind. However, one of the most memorable shoe lines that Nike released was the Air Jordan which hit the markets in 1985.
Since then Nike has captured the athletic shoe market. In 2001 they introduced their Nike Shox advanced support technology. This system uses columns of engineered foam to give runners and athletes superior cushioning and support. This was a new revolution in shoe design.
Nike continued to lead the market in 2003 and acquired Converse, Inc. The Chuck Taylor All Star is reintroduced and is again a fashion staple in the lives of teenagers across the country.
Sneakers have come so far that they are not strictly for athletes anymore. In 2004 Reebok formed a partnership with music professionals to create their Sound and Rhythm line. This was done on an attempt to grow and heighten sales and to recognize the growing popularity of the music industry and it’s effect on today’s youth.
Whether you are a professional athlete, casual athlete, music enthusiast or lover of fashion only, there is sure to be several pairs of sneakers in your wardrobe to fit every facet of your life. But did you ever know that this staple item had such an interesting history behind it?