A Nike Air Barrage for the Warriors
History of Sneakers
The history of sneakers begins in 1920, when Converse released the All Star basketball model. Also known as the ‘Chuck Taylor’, the simple canvas model is officially the highest selling sneaker of all time. In 1924, the Dassler family started making shoes, before a major dispute caused Rudolf Dassler to start PUMA in 1948, while his brother Adolf Dasssler founded adidas in 1949. The same year, Kihachiro Onitsuka started making sneakers in Japan under the name Tiger, which would later become known as ASICS.
In 1964, Phil Knight started Blue Ribbon Sports to distribute Tiger footwear in the USA. Paul Van Doren started making vulcanised sneakers in Anaheim, California, in 1966. Loved by skaters and surfers, VANS sneakers have always epitomised counterculture style. By 1971, Phil Knight’s beef with Tiger inspired him to start Nike, which was named after the goddess of victory. The Nike ‘Swoosh’ logo, designed by Carolyn Davidson, is the most powerful and valuable symbol in sneaker history. In 1972, Jim Davis purchased a small running brand known as New Balance, releasing classic sneaker designs such as the 574, 997 and 1500. In 1973, PUMA released Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier’s signature shoe in an assortment of suede colours.
In the early 80s, the Reebok Freestyle dominated the sales charts by tapping into the aerobics craze. In 1982, Bruce Kilgore designed the Nike Air Force 1 basketball sneaker. The classic white-on-white Air Force 1 would become a staple of New York street style. In 1985 – after rejecting adidas – Michael Jordan signed a multi-million dollar deal with Nike to launch the Air Jordan range. Designed by Peter Moore, the Air Jordan 1 is considered one of the most iconic sneakers of all time. In 1987, Nike designer Tinker Hatfield introduced ‘Visible Air’ with the first Air Max sneaker. The Air Max 90 ‘Infrared’, Air Max 95 ‘Neon’, Air Max 97 ‘Silver Bullet’ and Air Max Plus ‘Orange Tiger’ are all classic Nike sneakers with trademark colour schemes. Reebok’s inflatable range of Pump sneakers for basketball, running and tennis sold millions of pairs throughout the 1990s.
The modern sneaker scene starts in 2002, just as Sneaker Freaker published the first magazine and Nike’s new SB (skateboarding) division started releasing limited edition Dunk sneakers. Collaborations with street wear brands like Supreme ushered in a new era of hype and the concept of reselling sneakers for profit. The same year, adidas and Yohji Yamamoto joined forces to create Y-3, a mix of avant-garde fashion and sport style. In 2009, rap superstar Kanye West released the Air Yeezy hightop sneaker with Nike. By 2015, Kanye dropped the mic on Nike and joined adidas, launching the Yeezy BOOST 750 at New York Fashion Week. The Yeezy BOOST 350 in ‘Turtle Dove’ and ‘Pirate Black’ became cult classics. Off-White’s Virgil Abloh released his ‘The Ten’ collaboration with Nike on October 17, 2017, before being appointed Men’s Artistic Director at Louis Vuitton.
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