The History of the Sneaker

For most of us, sneakers are an item of clothing we just can’t be without. They are terrific for workouts and they offer the ultimate in comfort when it comes to getting from place to place.

With this in mind, it must be difficult to think of a time before sneakers. Yet such a time did exist.

Read on to find out more about sneakers and how they came to be.

Early Versions of Sneakers

Although there was a time when sneakers didn’t exist, that time is buried way back in history. The earliest version was created in the late 18th century when people wore something called plimsolls. They were rubber soled shoes but they did not have much else to them. There weren’t even cut to accommodate a right or left foot.

The Modern Sneaker is Invented

In 1892, the U.S. Rubber company decided there was a need for a more comfortable sneaker. They created a design with a canvas top called Keds. They were so-called because they were so quiet someone could sneak up on another person while wearing them.


By 1917, Keds were becoming a mass-produced item. Today, there are still many Keds-inspired looks. These sneakers are simple low tops that are known for being lightweight and comfortable.

As the Keds brand became more successful, other companies followed suit. In the same year, Marquis Converse would create a sneaker made just for basketball. They were endorsed by Indiana basketball player Chuck Taylor in 1923 and would from then on be known as Chuck Taylor All-Stars.


All-Stars remain as the best-selling basketball shoes of all time. They also paved the way for several high top looks which are known for bringing a unique sense of style to any outfit.

Sneakers Go International

By 1924, sneakers were going international. They caught the attention of German designer Adi Dassler who made a sneaker named after himself. Hence, the Adidas brand was born.

The Adidas brand stood out because, unlike Keds and Converse, it was geared towards rugged athletic sports. Adidas sneakers soon became the most popular athletic shoe in the world. However, competition was on the way. Adi’s brother Rudy started his own famous athletic sneaker brand, Puma. Many other brands followed suit creating their own athletic looks.


Although sneakers were rising in popularity, they were used only to play sports. However, they began becoming a fashion statement in the 1950’s. When James Dean wore sneakers in Rebel Without a Cause, the craze really took off.

Sneakers in the Modern Day

Sneakers continued to get more popular as time went on. In 1984, Michael Jordan signed a contract with Nike to wear their Air Jordan sneakers. These became the most famous sneakers ever made.

Brands like Puma, Reebok and Adidas put their styles in the ring to compete with Air Jordans as sneakers began to feature wild designs and colors. They were also designed to be suited for various sports and activities including skateboarding, walking and cross training.


As technology continued to develop, features were added to increase performance. Nike created their Air Force sneakers which used pockets of gas to improve cushioning. Reebok’s The Pump had air pumped into the sneaker to make them fit snugly. Spira Footwear built a spring into the soles of the shoe to reduce stress.

As these technologies developed, sneaker prices rose so you could easily end up spending upward of $100 a pair.

But whether you like the simple models or prefer the fancy athletic numbers, one thing is for sure; sneakers will never go out of fashion. Which styles are your favorites?


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