The transition of children’s routines from laboring on the family farm to sitting in the classroom led to a push for more exercise within the school day to ensure students would develop healthy bodies and healthy minds. As a result, physical fitness was incorporated into school curricula, and sneakers became an integral component of children’s dress. The khaki-colored uppers and brown rubber soles of this pair of Perfection high-tops were designed to suit the needs of active children. Dirt and stains would have been camouflaged by the color, and the rubber waterproofing of the seams on the vamps would have helped to keep feet dry. Sneakers like these were clearly created for the rough-and-tumble reality of outdoor play.
Perfection Rubber Company / High Top, early 1900 / Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum / Photo: Ron Wood