Firstly, I would like to say I am no expert in this field. Don’t get me wrong, I have an appreciation for them and find the whole subject captivating, but until a recent photoshoot I had never even heard the term ‘Sneakerhead’ – thanks to Paul for educating me on this. I suppose the definition of a ‘Sneakerhead’ would be someone who considers a mint condition pair of trainers to be the golden chalice, a source of pure lust and a thing of beauty. I knew it was big but maybe not the true extent of it. Riots have been caused by new releases, there’s exhibitions on it’s significance. It’s a serious industry and one which generates billions each year. The ladies have their Louboutins and Jimmy Choos, and the men have their Air Maxes and Boosts.
It’s strange to think that what started as a rubber beach shoe in Victorian England, would grow into a worldwide phenomenon worn by the masses. Literally every man and his dog owns a pair – I really wouldn’t be surprised if I saw a dog wearing a pair of Jordans tonight on Instagram. It was basically your old P.E plimsolls that were the original thing – a little piece of history on your feet, maybe they should have told me that at the time and would have worn them with pride not disgust. Converse were the true pioneers in developing the style and cut. When they designed a pair specifically for basketball in the early 1900’s, it opened up the possibilities to the plethora of styles that we have now. But how did this canvas sports shoe evolve into the high fashion status symbol it is today? You could track it back to the 80s, which seems to be when the hype really kicked off. A subculture was born. You had that really casual look hitting it big in the States with the skateboarders, surfers and IT geeks. Steve Jobs wore trainers to work. It was a whole new era for fashion and by the time the 90s came round, people were ditching the suits for sneakers.
Branding has played a huge part in the evolution of sneakers, from those 3 white lines to that simple tick, icons were born out of these signature designs and made the likes of Adidas and Nike the front runners they are today. Obviously their dedication to innovation has also propelled them to a superior status, with breathable fabrics and shock absorbing soles changing the comfort level as well as the look. As we all know fashion has changed a lot over the past decade, with less emphasis on branding and more on that clean simplistic Scandinavian design. One of the big names coming up through the ranks is Filling Pieces, a brand which focuses purely on it’s signature silhouette and luxury materials, avoiding any blatant branding.
Realistically it was – and still is – celebrity endorsements that built this urban icon. In the late 80s – early 90s it was sportsmen and musicians that were the poster boys for these brands. The likes of Michael Jordan and Run DMC made certain styles legendary. Nowadays it’s fashion house collaborations and creative couplings with the likes of Damien Hirst that’s blood in the water for hungry collectors. Knowing what Kayne West or David Beckham wore on their feet when they were papped walking to dinner, or taking their kids to school has become a fairly easy task. Thank you World Wide Web. Social media has also aided in our quest to find likeminded people who you can brag about your collection with. There’s blogs like Obsessive Sneaker Disorder that’s whole reason of existence is to discuss new releases, rate them and just spread any ounce of news regarding the subject. OSD’s podcasts have more than 3 million downloads. That’s a big audience.
If sneakers are one thing, they’re accessible. They may be a status symbol but they’re not one which can’t be obtained by the average guy – you just may need to save up a little longer than Pharrell. You can build a mammoth collection in your two bedroom Bristol flat, you don’t need to have a Knightsbridge penthouse to horde. There seems to be no stopping this sensation, sneakers are as much a part of our culture and society as smart phones and Facebook. Long may it reign.
Check out this season’s collection here