In June this year, hundreds of Australian shoppers queued – some overnight – to buy a pair of Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Black Static Adidas sneakers the moment they went on sale. Before lining up, customers had to register and go into a draw to determine whether they could buy a pair. The shoes Nike Air Max 720 Dame sold for a few hundred dollars but are now being traded for up to A$3000.
This quest to obtain limited edition sneakers designed by rapper Kanye West is not an isolated phenomenon. People have long gone to extreme lengths to get their hands on the latest kicks.
There have been reports of sneaker violence since the 1980s.
For Nike Air Max 95 Damen those wishing to form a more orderly queue, the internet has responded with news services and dedicated message boards to help people get the latest kicks. Other sites treat sneakers like stock market commodities.
But how does society’s sneaker love tally with our awareness of the environmental and human cost of consumerism
The first sneakers appeared in 1830s England, when Nike Air Presto Womens Liverpool Rubber bonded a canvas outer onto a vulcanised rubber sole, creating the original sand shoe for the Victorian middle Nike Air Max 270 Mujer classes to wear on the beach.
Different styles of the shoe were developed in the UK and the US throughout the 19th century to respond to athletic pursuits like running, tennis, jumping and sailing. The term “sneaker” was coined in the US in the 1870 to describe the shoe because it was noiseless. Athletes in Paris wore sneakers at the first modern Olympic Games in 1900.
The American pro-basketball player Charles H. Taylor, passionately promoted the sneakers designed by Marquis M. Converse in 1917. By 1923, Taylor’s improvements had been incorporated into the shoe, his signature added to their design, and Converse “Chucks” have remained unchanged since.
Adidas was founded by the Dassler brothers in Germany Nike Air Max 95 Womens in 1926, and Puma was founded in 1948 when the Dassler brothers split. Onitsuka Tiger (ASICS) were founded in Japan in 1949 and Reebok started making sneakers in 1958. New Nike M2k Tekno Femme Balance started creating their “Trackster” sneakers in 1961, and Nike was founded in 1972. At every point, sneakers were created to support athletes, but also to promote lifestyles that connected leisure with physical activity.
Since the 1970s, sneakers have been linked to skateboarding and hip-hop culture, including break dancing; urban pursuits that require a high degree of comfort and ease of movement. The explosion of hip-hop from the mid-1980s and its global dominance in the 1990s meant that sneakers quickly became a visual symbol of hip-hop and a symbol of its separation from the mainstream.
Run DMC’s 1986 track, My Adidas was as much about the Adidas Superstar Damen band’s love for sneakers as it was about how quickly people judged black youth who wore sneakers to be troublemakers.
The combination of rarity, and the myriad cultural meanings embedded in sneakers creates an emotional pull for Adidas Superstar Femme collectors like DJ Jerome Salele’a that ties them to sneaker, hip-hop, skater and rave communities around the globe.
The ultimate sneaker is a comfortable vehicle for the body to move through the world that expresses the wearer’s desires, dreams and aspirations and crosses social, geographic and language boundaries.