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Article: The history of Sneakers

L'histoire des Sneakers

The history of Sneakers

The term "Sneaker" comes from the English verb to sneak, meaning "to move silently". This feat is made possible thanks to the rubber soles !
Rubber was discovered in the 15th century, it was applied much later to the shoe design process. It was not until 1839 that Charles Goodyear developed the vulcanization of rubber. This is the process by which vulcanized rubber is obtained. The goal is to achieve a chemical reaction by adding sulfur (and other elements) to natural rubber. It is then heated to around 120º for a set time. The material becomes flexible and water resistant !
At the beginning of the 20th century, different brands started designing shoes using rubber. We first think of the United States Rubber Company, which manufactured the very first basketball with a flexible rubber sole in 1916. It is called the “Keds”.
The brand is still not alone on the market and it is then Converse who will follow this movement. Since 1917, the American brand has been manufacturing trainers with a sole made entirely of rubber, with the famous rising part that has made it famous today !


Originally, sneakers were designed for sports, but over time they have become everyday shoes. They are now evolving very quickly and using advanced technologies !
  Less than 8 years after the creation of the Keds, German brothers Rudolf and Adolf ("Adi") Dassler joined the competition by designing shoes for athletes from their mother's laundry room. While they were intended for sporting activity, sneakers are beginning to gain ground and are also worn for style.

Jesse Owen's success in winning four gold medals wearing shoes designed by the Dasslers marks a turning point in their history. Although they separated in 1947, the decision was similar for the two brothers and each became the head of two basketball giants. Adolf then creates adidas, while Rudolf launches the Puma brand.
From the beginning of the 1950s, America launched a new fashion with the appearance of the famous pair of jeans and sneakers ! This combination is popular among the stars of the time, which accelerates its democratization. This is how we find, for example, Marilyn Monroe, displaying herself proudly with sneakers on her feet.
In addition to a new style and in the era of time, the sneakers make it possible to display its rebellious character, shifted compared to the standards of society. They are then displayed as a symbol of protest against segregation, with in particular the Puma Suede will become the emblem of this battle against racial inequalities. 

During the Mexico Olympics in 1968, Tommie Smith shattered the world record for the 200 meters, becoming at the same time the first man to set a time of less than 20 seconds over this distance. He steps onto the podium in socks and black gloves, his fist raised and his pair of Puma shoes placed next to him. This action, supporting the fight against racial segregation in the United States, earned him a life ban from the competition.
In 1963, Bill Bowerman, an athletic trainer at the University of Oregon, and Philipp Knight, an accounting student and middle-distance runner, began importing athletic shoes from Japan. These are resold cheaper than elsewhere and the business begins to take over the years. They then set up a company shortly after and specialize in the Tiger model. The company will then be renamed Nike and experienced real development in 1971. The name of the brand pays homage to the goddess of victory in Greek mythology, and the shoes are intended to help improve athletic performance.

Although very popular for their increasingly developed designs, sneakers have a strong place in sport. We then discover an Adidas / Puma rivalry in the world of basketball, a fight won by the brand with the 3 stripes. At this time, 75% of NBA players wore Adidas sneakers. Finally, Nike makes everyone agree with the launch in 1982 of its legendary Air Force 1.

It was in 1985 that the launch of the partnership with Michael Jordan was born. This is the birth of the "Air Jordan".
In that same year, the Dunk made its appearance. Also intended for the practice of Basketball, it did not have the expected success and finds itself in the shadow of the Jordan 1. The years 1990-2000 were the great turning point of the model which gradually moved away from his favorite area to find himself at the feet of the Skaters.

During the same period appear the Freestyles of Reebok, which develops sneakers specifically intended for women.

Everything is then a matter of technology. Nike hit hard with its Air technology and the recruitment of Tinker Hatfield as a designer. It allowed the brand to restore its image in the field of running with the Air max 1 in 1987 and the Air max 90 in 1990. The latter is also at the origin of the window on the sole, making the bubble of looks more visible. 

The competition is fierce, we find then Reebok which launches in 1989 a sole composed of air, called the Reebok Pump. At Puma, it's the Trinomic released in 1989. Finally, it will be necessary to wait until 2013 for Adidas to develop Boost technology, then 4D more recently.

Beyond the courts and fields, sneakers are essential in the street. Pillars of booming hip-hop culture, we admire them at the feet of all its heroes, LL Cool J or Grandmaster Flash. We also think of the models that Adidas created with the US hip-hop superstar, the group Run DMC !
This sportswear aesthetic born out of African-American communities in cities on the east coast of the United States has lost none of its vigor today, as evidenced by Jay Z's collaborations with Reebok in 2003 and the great success of the Yeezy, designed by Kanye West for Adidas.
In addition to music, we also find sneakers on the big screen. We think of UmaThurman in Kill Bill and his famous bright yellow "Tai-chi". Without forgetting of course Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, with the Jordan 4. It was the first pair to cost more than 100 dollars, nicknamed the Rolls of sneakers at the time! Finally, the Air Mags from Back to the Future are quite simply iconic and have left their mark on an entire generation.
In the 80s and 90s, brands became more and more popular, sales figures increased and sneakers met the tastes of the public. Competition between enterprises has become more intense. The focus was on marketing and huge budgets were spent to differentiate themselves from other manufacturers. Collaborations with sports stars and other celebrities have marketed the sneakers as a must-have accessory. We think in particular of Virgil Abloh and his collection "The Ten" or Travis Scott and his Jordan 1, Dunks, Air Max...
The planet succumbs to sneakers, but the world of luxury is not left out. The biggest luxury brands will all quickly offer pairs of sneakers. It was during this period that the Walk'n Dior, the Run Away by Louis Vuitton and the Rhyton by Gucci appeared. Better still, these brands are launching collaborations with major equipment manufacturers, such as Puma & Balmain, Adidas & Prada and Nike & Louis Vuitton.

The basketball industry is now a big industry. The global market reaches $91 billion in 2021. In 2021, the market was worth $75 billion. Excluding slippers, flip-flops and sport-specific footwear, one in two pairs of shoes sold worldwide is a pair of sneakers.
Now let's move on to the most interesting, the discovery of our products on the theme of Sneakers. There is something for everyone and it is the books that open the ball !

Sneaker Freaker

Soled Out

Collab - Sneakers x Culture

Not Just Sneakers


Future Now


The Adidas Archive


From Soul to Sole




Sneakers Unboxed

The figurines also have a very strong link with the Sneaker and its culture. Now victims of their own success, here are two toys from Medicom Toy that still have their place in this article. Here we find a collaboration with the Japanese shop Atmos, created by Hommyo Hidefumi. Importer of OG pairs from the Swoosh brand in Japan, Hommyo quickly joined forces with Nike CO.JP to create exclusive models that will be resold in his country.

It is the origin of two iconic colors of the Sneaker Game: "Animal" (2007) and "Elephant" (2007), present on the famous Air Max 1. These two colors will experience reissues, in 2017 for the "Elephant" and in 2018 for the "Animal 2.0" pack.


Now let's move on to the creation of Superplastic, named "Shudog". Here we find the figurine proudly wearing the "Cement" colorway, with many details paying homage to the famous pair of sneakers. It comes with a box similar to those of your most beautiful pairs !

Superplastic Shudog

 Find here the whole Sneakers universe, available on our website


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