Basketball

Basketball, one of the most important sports in sneaker culture, was invented in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts, the very same town where Charles Goodyear had developed vulcanized rubber fifty years earlier.
Image courtesy Converse Archives

Body Politic

After the devastation of World War I, media put a greater emphasis on cultivating physical beauty, encouraging many to exercise. At the same time, advances in sneaker production dramatically lowered the price of sneakers, making them widely available.

Air Jordans

Beginning with Nike’s signing of Michael Jordan in 1984 and the appearance of the first Air Jordan the following year, Air Jordans have revolutionized the sneaker industry.

Rubber Revolution

The origin of the sneaker begins in the forests of Central and South America where for centuries the sap of the "weeping wood" tree was used by the indigenous peoples to make rubber balls, waterproof cloth, and footwear.
Photo: Josiah Mackenzie

Running and Jogging

In the 1970s, the self-focused Me Generation rapidly embraced running and jogging as part of a larger exercise craze, and sought expensive athletic footwear as a means of flaunting their status.

Sneakers & Fashion

By the mid-20th century, sneakers were embraced not only for their promise of enhanced sports performance but also as a means of conspicuous consumption.

Sneakers & Urban Culture

In 1986, the Nike Air Force 1 redefined the role of sneakers in urban culture. White-on-white Uptowns, as they came to be called, quickly became the footwear of many urban drug dealers who wore them in pristine condition as signifiers of wealth and status.