From Utility to Notability: An Evolution of Sneakers
When sneakers were first mass-produced, there wasn’t much consideration given to their brand or aesthetic — comfort and utility were the concern.
It was back in 1924, when Converse released the Chuck Taylor All Stars, that the sneaker landscape began to change. They weren’t only being sought for function — young boys would line up to buy these sneakers for the endorsement alone.
The Converse shoe would rule the collaboration universe for some sixty years until Nike teamed up with basketball star, Michael Jordan, in 1984 and dropped the Air Jordan. Jordan paved the way for future athletes (and pop icons) to become real players in the sport and streetwear game.
Today there are countless athletes, musicians, and pop culture characters representing sneaker brands of all kinds. LeBron James and Stephen Curry; Rihanna and Travis Scott; Barbie and Harry Potter (no, seriously).
While there are now more endorsement deals than ever, design collaborations are not just limited to the rich and famous. There is an entire culture dedicated to the personalization of Chuck Taylor All Stars (and, yes, we’re going on 100 years since they first hit the market). Everyday creatives will purchase a pair off the rack, decorate them, and sell them online for big money. You can even design your own All Stars right on the Converse website.
Other e-commerce sites forego brand names altogether and focus solely (no pun intended) on individuality and creative expression. Websites like Inner Art World collaborate with artists worldwide to offer exclusive designs that are printed directly onto different styles of sneakers, giving the wearer a sense of true uniqueness.
Whether you rock a pair endorsed by a favorite athlete or something else altogether, sneakers have become so much more than rubber attached to a piece of fabric: they’ve gone from completely utilitarian to coveted fashion statements. Sneakers are now canvases — a way to express originality (or normality, if that’s what you’re after).
As Christian Louboutin once said: a shoe is not only a design, it’s part of your body language. And now what you say to the world is entirely up to you.