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The Evolution Of Sneakers

Almost everyone you know will own at least one pair of sneakers. They are comfortable, practical and stylish, making them the perfect shoe for everyday wear.

Whether you love Nike, Fila, Puma or New Balance, there are countless options and styles to fit anyone's taste from everyday styles to rare sneakers for your collection.

But where did they come from and how have they changed over the years? 

These shoes originally came about back in the 19th century and were made for athletics purposes. They were meant to be worn for sports to make running and other activities easier and more comfortable. 

Thin, rubber-soled and looking very different to the current shoe we are used to and plimsolls were the first sneaker-like footwear to come around, the preferred footwear for athletic activities. 

Later in the 19th century, plimsolls developed further and used slightly thicker fabric and had a chunkier rubber sole. This was to provide extra support for the wearer and to increase the longevity of the shoe, as the original thin-soled plimsolls tended to wear out very quickly. 

In the early 20th century, plimsolls turned into Keds, which were thicker soled, laced and reached further up the ankle, thought to be more supportive and comfortable for the wearer. 

These shoes were still used exclusively for sporting activities at this time and weren’t thought to be fashionable or suitable for daily wear. 

This specific design of this shoe was perfect for one of the most popular sports of the time, boxing, as it allowed for agility, speed and ease of movement while fighting in the ring. 

Moving into the 1930s, sneakers began being known as, well, sneakers! They were becoming a popular choice outside of sports and were often seen on children when playing around outdoors. 

The 50s saw sneakers being marketed towards families and people of all ages as reliable and comfortable shoes for everyday wear. This is when sneakers first started to become an everyday staple in people's wardrobes, at once both fashionable and functional.  

The 1960s saw the rise in popularity of a much-loved classic… the Converse All Stars. These were first popular with children, but over the years they became a family favourite and remain a strong staple to this day. 

In the 70s, sneakers evolved into chunkier statement shoes that were more of a fashion item than anything else. However, their sporting roots were not forgotten and they remained predominantly a form of athletic wear. 

This continued into the early 90s and styles only got bigger and better. Chunky soles, bright and bold colours and flashy designs became popular and sneakers were infiltrating the media at every opportunity, from sports to music to fashion. 

The 2000s saw customisable options and limited edition special releases. Sneakers had gone beyond functional footwear and were now a statement of status. If you had killer shoes, you were popular and trendy. 

Recently, there has been a surge in demand for vintage styles and brands are recreating old well-loved classics, showing that the sneaker world is just as popular as ever and will likely be here to stay for the foreseeable.


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