Did you know, sneakers were made for sneaking around? As bizarre as it sounds, there is some truth to it.
The term 'sneaker' was invented in 1917 by Henry Nelson McKinney, an executive from the advertising company NW Ayer & Sons. His idea for the name sprung from the fact that the rubber soles on the shoes are noiseless. A perfect fit for people who love to sneak up on others (We do pray that's not the reason you choose to wear sneakers).
Either way, sneakers are a hot item in the shoe industry. An eBay survey found that on average, each American owns up to six pairs of sneakers- quite a big collection for one person. Well, sneakers are brilliant and fashionable footwear and most importantly - they combine style and comfort in the best way possible.
The big question is, what exactly are sneakers? We all have an idea of what a sneaker looks like, but what exact elements make up a sneaker? Keep on reading to find out more.
What are Sneakers?
Sneakers are a casual type of sports shoe worn with a fashion intent. While trainers fulfill a technical part, sneakers are solely used for aesthetic purposes. Modern sneakers are made from materials, such as leather, textiles, synthetics, foam, plastic, or rubber. Not to mention, one key element of a sneaker is its rubber sole which enables a noiseless walk. Furthermore, sneakers are available in vibrant colors and patterns and come in different designs and shapes. Today, you can find a ton of different sneaker models, in different styles and for different purposes
Difference Between Sneakers and Trainers
Although sneakers and trainers are both sports shoes, they don't serve the same purpose. Trainers serve a technical purpose, which is for physical activity. Today you can find different types of trainers for specific activities, such as running, jogging, weight-lifting, skateboarding, or aerobic training, Hence, why trainers are produced with different and heavier materials compared to sneakers. Here is a short summary of what differentiates a sneaker from a trainer.
- Designed for casual wear
- Made out of softer materials
- Non-shock absorbent
- Not always waterproof
- Designed for sports activities
- Made out of heavy materials
- Shock absorbent
- Usually waterproof
History of Sneakers
Since you now know where the term for sneaker originally came from, it's time to learn more about how its fame started.
The first sneakers were actually called 'plimsolls' and were invented by Wait Webster in the 19th century. Naturally, plimsolls looked drastically different than sneakers today. They had no brand logos, no vibrant colors, or cool designs and had thin rubber soles. They were simple mono-color shoes made for physical activity. By 1892, a US rubber company created a more comfortable sneaker with better construction. These were soon mass-produced and enabled people from lower classes to purchase them too.
Skip forward to the 1900s, that's when today's big brands like Adidas, Converse, and Puma began to join the sneaker production. By the 1950s, sneakers were a common item between kids and were worn by big stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando. Sneakers had a rebelliousness to them and were a symbol of stepping out from society's strict dress rules. Not to mention, they offered comfort like no other shoe, something that was an unfamiliar feeling back then.
By 1970, Nike joined the sneaker business. Fun fact, Nike was named after a Greek goddess who was known as the winged goddess of victory. Back then it was believed that athletes who worshipped her would be more successful in their sports competitions. Nike got its first big appearance in 1984 when NBA player Michael Jordan signed a contract to wear their sneakers, known as Air Jordans. This shoe model was the start of Nike's success and massively influenced sales.
In today's society, sneakers are one of the most worn types of shoes. You can find a wide variety of different and prices can range anywhere from 70$ to 10.000$ and more. Whether you're a lover of sneakers or not, time has shown that sneakers are here to stay, so we may as well make the best out of it and grab the nicest pair.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sneakers
- What is the difference between sneakers and shoes? Sneakers are a specific type of shoe primarily designed for casual wear or sports. The key characteristics that set sneakers apart from other shoes are their flexible rubber soles, comfortable build, and often more casual, fashionable design. In contrast, 'shoes' is a broader term encompassing all types of footwear, including formal, casual, and athletic styles.
2. What are brand new sneakers called? Brand-new sneakers are often referred to as "Deadstock." This term originates from the sneaker-collecting community and signifies sneakers that are brand new, never worn, and usually include the original packaging. It's a key term for collectors and enthusiasts in the sneaker world.
3. Why are sneakers so famous? Sneakers have become cultural icons due to their versatile nature, combining style, comfort, and function. They have evolved from simple athletic wear to fashion statements, featured in runway shows, celebrity wardrobes, and everyday streetwear. Their popularity is bolstered by factors like brand collaborations, innovative designs, and their association with sports and pop culture.
4. Is it sneakers or sneaker? The term can be used both as "sneakers" (plural) and "sneaker" (singular). "Sneakers" refers to a pair or multiple pairs of this type of footwear, while "sneaker" is used when referring to a single shoe or a specific model.
5. What country buys the most sneakers? The United States is often cited as the country with the highest consumption of sneakers. This is due to the country's large population, significant disposable income, and deep-rooted sneaker culture, especially within urban and youth communities.
6. What is the world's most famous sneaker? Arguably, the Nike Air Jordan 1 is considered the world's most famous sneaker. It gained legendary status through its association with Michael Jordan and has become a symbol of basketball culture, fashion, and sneaker collecting worldwide. Other contenders might include the Adidas Superstar and the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star, each iconic in their own right.