The Rise of Sneaker Culture

Sneaker culture is essentially the idea behind any other collecting mentality applied to… well.. sneakers. For whatever reason (ahem… good marketing), there is an entire sub-region of the fashion industry where coveted kicks reign supreme. Partially due to hip hop going mainstream, partially due to obscene budgets from the Nike ad budget vault and partially because at some point, someone decided that fashion should be comfortable and took sportswear to an entirely new level. Perhaps a level that needs therapy. Regardless of your stance on sneakers as fashion statement pieces, there is no doubt that the phenomenon is going strong.

A brief history of sneakers

Did you know that the first pair of sneakers was invented back in the late 18th century? That’s right, but these were nothing like today’s sneakers – they were quite rough, featuring rubber soles – and were marketed primarily as beachwear. It took them nearly 60 years to become more refined and appropriate for mass production. Even though the upgraded version still kept the rubber sole, the biggest part was actually made from canvas. 

As for their name, they got it simply because they were so quiet, which means that whoever wore them could easily sneak up on you. The interesting fact is that sneakers evolved in 1924 in Germany, where a man called Adi Dassler invented a real sports shoe. His company has gradually grown into what we know as Adidas today. However, it was in 1984 when sneakers became a status symbol. This was the year when Nike collaborated with basketball superstar Michael Jordan and changed the world of sneakers forever!

Sneakers today

Needless to say, the sneaker industry has massively changed over the last couple of decades. It brings in a whopping $60 billion annually, whereas hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on development, research, and branding. It’s quite shocking, isn’t it? The rise of sneaker culture (along with a healthy dose of Rihanna collabs) started a trend called athleisure. This trend has completely changed the fashion industry, too, as for better or for worse, garments that were worn at the gym only are now a part of our everyday outfits. Especially in the days of Covid, we are universally looking for a way to blend comfort with fashion.

Besides the massive shift in consumer behaviour, there are many celebrities such as Kanye West and LeBron James who have signed multi-million-dollar collaboration deals with major brands such as Adidas and Nike. It’s about adding to the prestige of what’s available, even, or maybe especially when applied to a utilitarian accessory. Everyone can have a pair of Adidas shoes. Yeezys are black label.  Also, many luxury brands and design houses such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Versace are creating their own sneaker collections. That’s a whole new level of style and cachet to put on the market. 

However, if you want to find a perfect pair but you get lost among all those styles, designs and status points, you can always rely on useful Kicks Guru sneaker reviews. These will help you choose the best pair according to your preferences, which is something that we prefer. Those with true style are leaders, not followers. Do your research and purchase what works best for your personal style.


About sustainability and ethical production

Even though many sneaker lovers tend to prioritize trends and their personal style over environmental concerns, there are still many people who are fighting for sustainability and ethical production in the sneaker industry. Did you know that more than 23 billion pairs of sneakers are made every year, whereas over 300 million pairs are thrown out? That’s right, and the most devastating fact is that these sneakers take many decades to fully decompose in a landfill. This is a major environmental issue the entire world is dealing with, but you know, there are ways to deal with it successfully, and one of them is switching to sustainable and ethical production as priorities when looking for stylish kicks.

For example, Adidas is one of the brands that started making efforts in sustainability with their sneakers back in 2015. They started using recycled ocean plastic and making sneakers out of it, which was a truly groundbreaking move. They also launched Futurecraft Loop, a brand new style of sneakers made from 100% reusable Thermoplastic polyurethane that can be recycled all over again.

One of the issues with athleisure wear companies that try to go eco is that they use RPet fabrics, which is recycled polyester and other plastics in fabric. It sounds good, but unfortunately what this is creating is a massive problem with microplastics. Especially when used in clothing that needs to be constantly washed, this is a major issue as every time the garment is laundered microscopic plastic shards enter the watersystem eventually landing in the waterways and oceans where they wreak havoc. The beauty of using these fabrics in shoes and accessories is that they are washed FAR less and often are properly dry-cleaned so this isn’t an issue (always look into eco dry cleaning options). 

There are a plethora of companies making footwear that is both ethical and sustainable. Our favourites are Veja, Po-Zu and Saola. For classic retro go with Veja. Po-Zu takes licensing to another level if you are keen on finding footwear with a bang and Saola creates a shoe so fantastic looking that you can upgrade it to fancy. 

With the rise of sneaker culture over the last couple of decades – especially during the last ten years. Even though the entire concept of wearing sneakers has drastically changed from the very beginning, we must say that sneakers are still the most popular footwear choice for a good reason. They’re super comfy yet so stylish and trendy at the same time, and it gets even better when you find a sustainable pair that can be recycled once it’s worn out. Just give sneakers a try if you already haven’t (we highly doubt that), and you’ll see what we were talking about!

Peter Minkoff

Peter is a lifestyle writer living between Europe and Australia. Follow Peter on Twitter for more tips.

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