Sneaker Culture in Mainstream Fashion-Foot World UK

Sneaker Culture in Mainstream Fashion

You cant walk into a sport shoe store these days without being confronted with a range of sneakers from old school designs to, limited edition exclusives and fresh colourways and styles. Sneaker culture has blossomed from what was directed at hardcore ‘sneaker freaks’ with a strong interest in sport shoe collecting, to a full blown mainstream phenomenon.
Transcending race and class, defining who you are in todays urban class, sneakers have exploded into popular culture as an urban fashion staple. Noted by the leading sneaker brands, nurturing the avid collectors market by releasing and re-releasing certain designs and colourways in carefully selected locations and territories, and collaborating with urban cult fashion labels with limited edition pieces selling out within hours of release.
Serious sneaker collectors know who they are, with a deadstock collection to die for, however most don’t even realise that they own twenty pairs of sneakers and although don’t label themselves as collectors, are definitely part of the sneaker culture which is evolving into the mainstream.
Sneaker culture stems from many different backgrounds and cultures, certain shoes become forever linked with various music genres and subcultures. This musical relationship is one which cant be ignored. Hip-hop for example, has adopted sneakers ad an integral part of the culture, with many rap tracks which cite particular models and favourite brands.
Likewise mainstream sport has played an equally important role in sneaker culture: classics such as Jordan, Converse All Star and adidas Superstar were all designed with basketball in mind. Rise and popularity of these sports are all intertwined deeply with the rise of the sneaker. Around the world there are people who have not seen a basketball game, but, thanks to the link with sneakers, know who Michael Jordan is.
Major brands have always reacted quickly to trends as they develop, for example in the 1980’s as street skateboarding took off, adidas released the Superskate. As aerobics became the craze of the early 1980’s, Reebok released the Freestyle, which became one of the most successful sneakers of all time.
In a similar way, the sneaker collectors market has also developed. Brands reacting to demand, careful in timing and location of their new releases as well as number released. This makes a serious sneaker collectors obsession grow, with some sneakers identity becoming myths due to rumours and hearsay, at times deliberately fostered by brands themselves.
The jury is still out on where the original sneakers first originated from. In terms of oldest brands, there’s Converse, whose Chuck Taylor All Star dates from 1923, and 1917 without the Chuck Taylor name; and PRO-Keds, which was originally incorporated as Keds in 1917. Early sneakers were simply a way for manufacturers to use excess rubber from other production lines at their plants.
Sneaker collecting however, began as soon as companies began to offer more than one model and then more than one colourway of one model – and it really is as simple as that. Its not just brand loyalty that collectors have, but loyalty to a design within a brand also.
Collectors often begin by buying models they like, in various colourways and have difficulty parting with the old pairs the already have.
So tell me, are you a sneaker collector?

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