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. Physical perfection also took on political connotations and was touted as the outward evidence of national and racial superiority. Around the world, citizens were encouraged to exercise in service to the state, and the sneaker became integrated into people’s wardrobes globally. From Japan to Italy, these unsettling ideologies found expression in large outdoor demonstrations of physical fitness and gave a loaded political agenda to competitive games, such as the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. It was in this period of the “politics of perfection”that the sneaker emerged as one of the most democratic forms of footwear.

The post-World War II baby boom only increased the popularity of sneakers, and they soon became part of the uniform of childhood, especially for boys. The postwar period also saw many innovations in footwear for elite athletes and marked the entrance of the German companies Adidas and Puma into the sneaker market.