Sneakers

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Nike Air Jordan XI sneakers Air jordan XI space jam.jpg
Nike Air Jordan XI sneakers
A pair of Converse sneakers Black Converse sneakers.JPG
A pair of Converse sneakers
Stride Rite sneakers designed for kids Stride rite sneakers 10101.jpeg
Stride Rite sneakers designed for kids

Sneakers (also called trainers, athletic shoes, tennis shoes, gym shoes, kicks, sport shoes, flats, running shoes, skate shoes, or runners) are shoes primarily designed for sports or other forms of physical exercise but that are now also widely used for everyday casual wear.

Contents

Since their popularization by companies such as Converse, Nike and Spalding in the mid 20th century, they have become attire, with variety growing in many global markets exponentially. Like other parts of the global clothing industry, manufacture of shoes is heavily concentrated in Asia with nine in ten shoes produced in that region. [1]

Contemporary sneakers are largely made from synthetic materials, and the materials and manufacturing process produce, on average, about 14 kg (31 lb) of CO2 emissions. [2] [3] Some companies are trying to substitute more sustainable materials in their manufacture. [3] About 90% of shoes end up in landfills at end of life. [4]

Names and etymology

Reebok sneakers Reebok Royal Glide Ripple Clip shoe.jpg
Reebok sneakers

The shoes have gone by a variety of names, depending on geography and changing over the decades. The term "sneakers" is most commonly used in Northeastern United States, Central and South Florida, [5] [6] New Zealand, and parts of Canada. However, in Australian, Canadian, and Scottish English, running shoes and runners are synonymous terms used to refer to sneakers; with the latter term also used in Hiberno-English. Tennis shoes is another term used in Australian, and North American English.

The British English equivalent of sneaker in its modern form is divided into two separate types - predominantly outdoor and fashionable trainers, training shoes or quality 'basketball shoes' and in contrast cheap rubber-soled, low cut and canvas-topped 'plimsolls'. In Geordie English, sneakers may also be called sandshoes, gym boots, or joggers; [7] while plimsolls may be referred to as daps in Welsh English.

Several terms for sneakers exist in South Africa, including gym shoes, tennies, sports shoes, sneaks, and takkies. [8] Other names for sneakers includes rubber shoes in Philippine English, track shoes in Singapore English, canvas shoes in Nigerian English, Camboo in Ghana English meaning Camp boot and sportex in Greece.

Plimsolls (British English) are "low-tech" athletic shoes and are also called "sneakers" in American English. The word "sneaker" is often attributed to American Henry Nelson McKinney, who was an advertising agent for N. W. Ayer & Son. In 1917, he used the term because the rubber sole made the shoe's wearer stealthy. The word was already in use at least as early as 1887, when the Boston Journal made reference to "sneakers" as "the name boys give to tennis shoes." The name "sneakers" originally referred to how quiet the rubber soles were on the ground, in contrast to noisy standard hard leather sole dress shoes. Someone wearing sneakers could "sneak up", while someone wearing standards could not. [9]

Earlier, the name "sneaks" had been used by prison inmates to refer to warders because of the rubber-soled shoes they wore. [10]

History

These shoes acquired the nickname 'plimsoll' in the 1870s, derived according to Nicholette Jones' book The Plimsoll Sensation, from the colored horizontal band joining the upper to the sole, which resembled the Plimsoll line on a ship's hull. Alternatively, just like the Plimsoll line on a ship, if water got above the line of the rubber sole, the wearer would get wet. [11]

Plimsolls were widely worn by vacationers and also began to be worn by sportsmen on the tennis and croquet courts for their comfort. Special soles with engraved patterns to increase the surface grip of the shoe were developed, and these were ordered in bulk for the use of the British Army. Athletic shoes were increasingly used for leisure and outdoor activities at the turn of the 20th century - plimsolls were even found with the ill-fated Scott Antarctic expedition of 1911. Plimsolls were commonly worn by pupils in schools' physical education lessons in the UK from the 1950s until the early 1970s.[ citation needed ]

British company J.W. Foster and Sons designed and produced the first shoes designed for running in 1895; the shoes were spiked to allow for greater traction and speed. The company sold its high-quality handmade running shoes to athletes around the world, eventually receiving a contract for the manufacture of running shoes for the British team in the 1924 Summer Olympics. Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell won the 100 m and 400 m events, kitted out with Foster's running gear. [12]

A pair of white athletic Nike sneakers with pink accents EVD-tenis-050.jpg
A pair of white athletic Nike sneakers with pink accents

This style of footwear also became prominent in America at the turn of the 20th century, where they were called 'sneakers'. In 1892, the U.S. Rubber Company introduced the first rubber-soled shoes in the country, sparking a surge in demand and production. The first basketball shoes were designed by Spalding as early as 1907.[ citation needed ] The market for sneakers grew after World War I, when sports and athletics increasingly became a way to demonstrate moral fiber and patriotism. The U.S. market for sneakers grew steadily as young boys lined up to buy sneakers endorsed by football player Jim Thorpe and Converse All Stars endorsed by basketball player Chuck Taylor.

During the interwar period, athletic shoes began to be marketed for different sports, and differentiated designs were made available for men. Athletic shoes were used by competing athletes at the Olympics, helping to popularise athletic shoes among the general public. In 1936, a French brand, Spring Court, [13] marketed the first canvas tennis shoe featuring signature eight ventilation channels on a vulcanised natural rubber sole.

Adolf "Adi" Dassler began producing his own sports shoes in his mother's wash kitchen in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, after his return from World War I, and went on to establish one of the leading athletic shoe manufacturers, Adidas. [14] He also successfully marketed his shoes to athletes at the 1936 Summer Olympics, which helped cement his good reputation. Business boomed and the Dasslers were selling 200,000 pairs of shoes each year before World War II. [15] [16]

Post-War

A large pile of athletic shoes for sale at a market in Hong Kong Shoes and Fruit (p365 20).jpg
A large pile of athletic shoes for sale at a market in Hong Kong

During the 1950s, leisure opportunities greatly expanded, and children and adolescents began to wear sneakers as school dress codes relaxed. Sneaker sales rose so high, they began to adversely affect the sales of conventional leather shoes, leading to a fierce advertising war for market share in the late '50s. In the 1970s, jogging for exercise became increasingly popular, and trainers designed specifically for comfort while jogging sold well. Companies also started to target some of their products at the casual fashion market. Soon, shoes were available for football, jogging, basketball, running, etc. Many sports had their relevant shoe, made possible by podiatrist development of athletic shoe technology.

During the 1990s, shoe companies perfected their fashion and marketing skills. Sports endorsements with famous athletes grew larger, and marketing budgets went through the roof. Sneakers became a fashion statement and were marketed as a definition of identity and personality rather than simply athletic aids. [17]

From 1970 (five models), to 1998 (285 models), to 2012 (3,371), the number of sport shoe models in the U.S. has grown exponentially. [18]

Use in sports

Road runners New Balance 750v1 after marathon event New Balance 750v1.jpg
Road runners New Balance 750v1 after marathon event

The term 'athletic shoes' is typically used for shoes utilized for jogging or road running and indoor sports such as basketball, but tends to exclude shoes for sports played on grass such as association football and rugby football, which are generally known in North America as "cleats" and in British English as "boots" or "studs".

Attributes of an athletic shoe include a flexible sole, appropriate tread for the function, and ability to absorb impact. As the industry and designs have expanded, the term "athletic shoes" is based more on the design of the bottom of the shoe than the aesthetics of the top of the shoe. Today's designs include sandals, Mary Janes, and even elevated styles suitable for running, dancing, and jumping.

The shoes themselves are made of flexible compounds, typically featuring a sole made of dense rubber. While the original design was basic, manufacturers have since tailored athletic shoes for their specific purposes. An example of this is the spiked shoe developed for track running. Some of these shoes are made up to unusually large sizes for athletes with large feet.

Running shoes

Running shoes come in a range of shapes suited to different running styles/abilities. Generally, they are divided by running style: the majority are for heel-toe joggers/runners which are further subdivided into 'neutral', 'overpronation' and 'underpronation'. [19] [20] These are constructed with a complex structure of "rubber" with plastic/metal stiffeners to restrict foot movement. More advanced runners tend to wear flatter and flexible shoes, which allow them to run more quickly with greater comfort.

According to the NPD Group, one in four pairs of running shoes that were sold in the United States in 2016 were bought from an online retailer. [21]

Notable brands

As of 2020, brands with global popularity include:

A pop-up athletic shoe retailer in Florida, United States. Pop up athletic shoe retailer.jpg
A pop-up athletic shoe retailer in Florida, United States.

Types and number of models

Sneaker culture

Exhibition The Rise of Sneaker Culture at the Brooklyn Museum DIG E 2015. Brooklyn Museum.The Rise of Sneaker Culture.jpg
Exhibition The Rise of Sneaker Culture at the Brooklyn Museum

Sneakers have been an important part of hip hop (primarily Pumas, Nike, and Adidas) and rock 'n roll (Converse, Vans) cultures since the 1970s. Hip hop artists sign million dollar deals with major brands such as Nike, Adidas, or Puma to promote their shoes. [22] [ citation needed ] Sneaker collectors, called "sneakerheads", regard sneakers as fashionable items. Sneaker companies encourage this trend by producing rare sneakers in limited numbers, often at very high retail prices. Artistically-modified sneakers can sell for upwards of $1000 at exclusive establishments like Saks Fifth Avenue. [23] In 2005, a documentary, Just for Kicks , about the sneaker phenomenon and history was released. [24] [ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

Shoe Durable type of footwear worn in most cultures

A shoe is an item of footwear intended to protect and comfort the human foot. Shoes are also used as an item of decoration and fashion. The design of shoes has varied enormously through time and from culture to culture, with appearance originally being tied to function. Though the human foot is adapted to varied terrain and climate conditions, it is still vulnerable to environmental hazards such as sharp rocks and temperature extremes, which shoes protect against. Some shoes are worn as safety equipment, such as steel-soled boots which are required on construction sites.

Footwear Garments worn on feet

Footwear refers to garments worn on the feet, which typically serves the purpose of protection against adversities of the environment such as ground textures and temperature. Footwear in the manner of shoes therefore primarily serves the purpose to ease locomotion and prevent injuries. Footwear can also be used for fashion and adornment as well as to indicate the status or rank of the person within a social structure. Socks and other hosiery are typically worn additionally between the feet and other footwear for further comfort and relief. Cultures have different customs regarding footwear. These include not using any in some situations, usually bearing a symbolic meaning. This can however also be imposed on specific individuals to place them at a practical disadvantage against shod people, if they are excluded from having footwear available or are prohibited from using any. This usually takes place in situations of captivity, such as imprisonment or slavery, where the groups are among other things distinctly divided by whether or whether not footwear is being worn. In these cases the use of footwear categorically indicates the exercise of power as against being devoid of footwear, evidently indicating inferiority.

Converse (shoe company) American shoe company

Converse is an American shoe company that designs, distributes, and licenses sneakers, skating shoes, lifestyle brand footwear, apparel, and accessories. Founded in 1908, it has been a subsidiary of Nike, Inc. since 2003.

Adidas German multinational corporation

Adidas AG is a German multinational corporation, founded and headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Germany, that designs and manufactures shoes, clothing and accessories. It is the largest sportswear manufacturer in Europe, and the second largest in the world, after Nike. It is the holding company for the Adidas Group, which consists of the Reebok sportswear company, 8.33% of the German football club Bayern München, and Runtastic, an Austrian fitness technology company. Adidas' revenue for 2018 was listed at €21.915 billion.

Puma (brand) German clothing and consumer goods manufacturer

Puma SE, branded as Puma, is a German multinational corporation that designs and manufactures athletic and casual footwear, apparel and accessories, which is headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, Germany. Puma is the third largest sportswear manufacturer in the world. The company was founded in 1948 by Rudolf Dassler. In 1924, Rudolf and his brother Adolf "Adi" Dassler had jointly formed the company Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik. The relationship between the two brothers deteriorated until the two agreed to split in 1948, forming two separate entities, Adidas and Puma. Both companies are currently based in Herzogenaurach, Germany.

Skate shoe Type of footwear designed for use in skateboarding

Skate shoes or skateboard shoes are a type of footwear specifically designed and manufactured for use in skateboarding. While numerous non-skaters choose to wear skate shoes as they are popular in fashion, the design of the skate shoe includes many features designed especially for use in skateboarding, including a vulcanized rubber or polyurethane sole with minimal tread pattern or no pattern, a composition leather or suede upper, and double or triple stitching to extend the life of the upper material. A low, padded tongue is often included for comfort. The most important aspect of skate shoes is that they have flat soles which allow the skater to have better board control.

Chuck Taylor All-Stars Canvas and rubber shoes (sneakers)

Chuck Taylor All-Stars or Converse All Stars is a model of casual shoe manufactured by Converse that was initially developed as a basketball shoe in the early 20th century. The design of the Chuck Taylor All Star has remained largely unchanged since its introduction in the 1920s. The shoe consists of a stitched upper portion, a toe cap that is usually made of white rubber, and a sole that is usually made of brown rubber. Although Chuck Taylors are made of various materials such as leather, the original and most widely known version of the shoe is made from cotton canvas. The innovative detail of the original shoe was the "loose lining" of soft canvas that was intended to provide flexibility and prevent blisters.

Football boot Footwear worn when playing association football

Football boots, called cleats or soccer shoes in North America, are an item of footwear worn when playing association football. Those designed for grass pitches have studs on the outsole to aid grip. From simple and humble beginnings football boots have come a long way and today find themselves subject to much research, development, sponsorship and marketing at the heart of a multi-national global industry. Modern "boots" are no longer truly boots in that they do not cover the ankle - like most other types of specialist athletic footwear, their basic design and appearance has converged with that of sneakers since the 1960s.

Plimsoll shoe

A pump is a type of athletic shoe with a canvas upper and rubber sole developed initially as beachwear.

Court shoe

A court shoe, or pump, is a shoe with a low-cut front, or vamp, with either a shoe buckle or a black bow as ostensible fastening. Derivating from the 17th and 18th century dress shoes with shoe buckles, the vamped pump shape emerged in the late 18th century. By the turn of the 19th century, shoe buckles were increasingly replaced by black bows, which has remained the contemporary style for men's formal wear, leather or patent leather evening pumps ever since. This latter style is sometimes also called an opera pump or opera slipper.

KangaRoos

KangaROOS is an American brand of sneaker originally produced from 1979 through the 1980s, with a later revival that continues in present. They were notable for having a small zippered pocket on the side of the shoe, large enough for a small amount of loose change, keys, etc.

High-top

The high-top is a shoe that extends slightly over the wearer's ankle. It is commonly an athletic shoe, particularly for basketball. It is sometimes confused with the slightly shorter mid-top, which typically extends no higher than the wearer's ankle. High-tops also should not be confused with shorter-length boots such as ankle boots, since high-tops usually refer to athletic shoes, although can also refer to other above-ankle shoes such as some hiking boots.

Volley (shoe)

Volley, formerly known as Dunlop Volley is a brand of athletic shoes manufactured by Brand Collective. Formerly, it was produced by Dunlop Sport (Australia), a sports equipment subsidiary of Pacific Brands, which separated the Volley brand into its Brand Collective Pty Ltd which was sold to private equity firm Anchorage Capital Partners in November 2014.

Reebok Footwear and clothing company

Reebok International Limited is a footwear and clothing manufacturer that has been a subsidiary of American management company Authentic Brands Group since August 2021. From 2005 to 2021, the brand was owned by German sporting goods giant Adidas. Reebok produces and distributes fitness, running, and CrossFit sportswear, including clothing and footwear. It is the official footwear and apparel sponsor for CrossFit and Spartan Race.

Adidas Superstar superstars

The Superstar is a low-top athletic shoe manufactured by German multinational company Adidas since 1969. The shoe was originally released as a low-top version of the Pro Model basketball shoe. Nicknamed the "clamtoe", "shelltoe", "shell shoes", "shell tops", and "sea shells" the iconic design is known as one of the major influences in the sneaker culture.

Sneaker collecting is the acquisition and trading of sneakers as a hobby. It is often manifested by the use and collection of shoes made for particular sports, particularly basketball and skateboarding. A person involved in sneaker collecting is sometimes called a sneakerhead.

Onitsuka Tiger is a Japanese sports shoes brand started in 1949 by Onitsuka Shōkai, a sports shoes company founded by Kihachiro Onitsuka. Onitsuka Shōkai changed its name several times before changing it to ASICS Corporation in 1977. Since 1977, Onitsuka Tiger has been sold as one of the sports shoe brands of ASICS.

Cleat (shoe) Projection on sole of shoe

Cleats or studs are protrusions on the sole of a shoe or on an external attachment to a shoe that provide additional traction on a soft or slippery surface. They can be conical or blade-like in shape and can be made of plastic, rubber or metal. The type worn depends on the environment of play: grass, ice, artificial turf, or other grounds.

Nike, Inc. American athletic equipment company

Nike, Inc. is an American multinational corporation that is engaged in the design, development, manufacturing, and worldwide marketing and sales of footwear, apparel, equipment, accessories, and services. The company is headquartered near Beaverton, Oregon, in the Portland metropolitan area. It is the world's largest supplier of athletic shoes and apparel and a major manufacturer of sports equipment, with revenue in excess of US$37.4 billion in its fiscal year 2020. As of 2020, it employed 76,700 people worldwide. In 2020 the brand alone was valued in excess of $32 billion, making it the most valuable brand among sports businesses. Previously, in 2017, the Nike brand was valued at $29.6 billion. Nike ranked 89th in the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.

Reebok Zig

Reebok Zig is an athletic footwear technology and collection of shoes designed by Reebok. ZigTech debuted in January 2010 and was first introduced with the ZigPulse later that year. ZigTech includes a zigzag foam sole that is designed to push athletes forward. The design assists in energy return to the wearer by absorbing impact at the heel and dispersing the energy through the zigzag composition which propels the athlete forward and also reduces stress on the shins. Reebok has released various styles of ZigTech designs that are compatible across a variety of sports.

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