The Art of the Kicks: The Rise of Sneaker Culture as an Art Form


Sneaker culture has gone from a niche subculture to a million-dollar, mainstream art form. Here’s everything you need to know about the rise of sneaker culture.

Footwear has come a long way since the days when shoes weren’t designed exclusively for the left or right foot. These shoes had rubber soles, like today’s sneakers, but were previously known as plimsolls.

Before shoemakers put rubber in the bottom of their shoes, walking around was a noisy activity. Afterward, however, people could literally “sneak” around. Many people credit the U.S. Rubber Company by bringing sneakers on the market.

Nowadays, there are far more sneaker brands than just Keds. To learn more about how the sneaker culture has evolved into a fashion staple, check out the information below.

The Beginning

It’s no surprise that the first sneakers were a far cry from the timeless designs from Givenchy. These 18th-century designs were simply a utilitarian article of clothing to protect the feet. As previously stated, they weren’t even differentiated for the left foot and the right foot.

Near the end of the 1800s, the U.S. Rubber Company developed a more comfortable model — Keds. It didn’t take long for Marquis Converse to diversify the sneaker market with his Converse brand.

The Sport Factor

When Chuck Taylor, a well-known basketball star, endorsed Converse sneakers, sneaker culture took off. Since then, famous athletes have helped specific brands dominate the market.

For example, where would Nike be if Michael Jordan never introduced his unforgettable Air Jordan line? Even skateboarders have influence, specifically with the Nike Dunks and Nike SB lines. All of these types of shoes have become major collector’s items that sell for hundreds of dollars.

Hip Hop Influence

Athletes aren’t the only ones advancing sneaker culture. Hip hop is just as influential. Who can forget Run DMC’s iconic “My Adidas” song? Hip hop blew up in the 80s, and everything hip hop artists said or did became a new trend.

Some brands have even produced sneakers named after music artists. Vans created a Metallica Sk8 Hi, Nike has a Wu-Tang Clan SB Dunk, and Reebok collaborated with Kendrick Lamar.

Even today, rapper and producer Kanye West’s line of Yeezy sneakers are highly popular. They are also very expensive.

Streetwear Trends

Streetwear has been a common fashion style since the 1990s but really started to take off after 2010. It evolved from a comfortable, casual style for Californian skateboarders and surfers, into a fashion statement curated by luxury brands.

Of course, sneakers are a huge part of streetwear. They are comfortable and casual as well, making them the perfect footwear for this style.

More on Sneaker Culture

Sneaker culture is a phenomenon that shows no sign of stopping. Although everyday brands like Nike and Adidas have dominated the sneaker world for years, recent streetwear trends have motivated high street luxury brands to join the market as well. Now, you can find sneakers from companies like Balenciaga and Gucci worth thousands of dollars.

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