It's hard to keep up in the world of trainers. Every week there is a new drop (keep up) and you need to know the difference between Deubré and deadstock. To celebrate the launch of our GOAT Sneaker exhibition, which opens in London next week, we thought we'd give you some hardcore sneaker facts, which you can drop into conversation with your most serious sneakerhead mates to prove you know your stuff. Thank us later.
The first rubber soled tennis shoes which were produced at the end of the 19th Century allowed one to walk around quietly and literally be able to 'sneak’ up on somebody, hence the word "sneaker" was born.
It's often said Henry Nelson McKinney or Keds invented the term "Sneakers" in 1917. False. In 1862 female inmates of London’s Brixton Prison were recorded referring to warderns wearing 'sneaks'.
Adidas isn’t the only company who lay claim to the three stripes. The successful Finnish Karhu three-striped shoe was worn at the 1952 Olympics. But eventually Karhu sold its three stripes trademark to adidas for the price of two bottles of good whiskey and about €1,600.
In General with the New Balance numbering system seen on their shoe models, the higher the number, the higher the specification of the shoe, which is usually matched by price. The last two digits in a running shoe's style number specify the type of shoe.
Vans was founded in 1966. On the first morning of trading, twelve customers purchase shoes, which were make in the morning and were ready for pick-up in the afternoon. Due to a shortage of change, the customers are allowed to take the shoes and come back the next day and pay. Which they all did...
The Nike Cortez sneaker was created co-founder Bill Bowerman took apart two existing Onitsuka Tiger shoes and redesigned them into one. Originally, Onitsuka wanted to call the new shoe the Aztec to tie in with the 1968 Mexico Olympics but adidas had already just released the Azteca for the same reason. Bowerman’s partner, Phil Knight, was so angry he decided to rename the shoe the Cortez, in honor of the man who had defeated the Aztecs.
The adidas Stan Smith was originally known as the adidas Robert Haillet. In 1965, French tennis champ Haillet endorsed and co-designs the first all leather tennis shoe. But, gradually, from 1971, Haillet’s picture on the shoe starts to be mixed with Stan Smith’s It wasn't until 1978 that the shoe becomes the now popular Stan Smith portrait design.
In 1974, while watching his wife make waffles for breakfast, Nike’s Bill Bowerman had a eureka moment, and starts melting sole rubber with the waffle iron. The Nike waffle sole is invented.
Vans were the first company to design a shoe just for skating and their Off The Wall sneakers are named after a skate term which means to ride in a disused swimming pool.
The Air Jordan I sold 1 million units in its first year and remains Nike top selling basketball shoes to this day. Michael Jordan still earns more in a year from royalties from his branded shoes and clothing than he made in his entire playing career.