Sneakers are described as canvas topped rubber soled shoes and have been around since the turn of the 20th century. They have gone through many name changes including tennis shoe, speed shoes, Chucks and have changed shape to come over the ankle. or sit just below.
Canvas topped rubber soled shoes have always had association with the criminal fraternity, starting with the term ‘sneaker’ as a reference to sneak thieves who wore the soft shoes for stealth and speed. From the fifties onwards the shoe style and rebellious youth have been inseparable as sneakers remain the most lasting style of footwear in the 200 years.
The term 'Chucks' comes from Chuck Taylor, a basketball star of the forties. Converse 'Chuck Taylor" All Stars have been on sale for many years and still remain extremely popular. Not only are they a status symbol, they are also a symbol of other activities than protect the feet.
In our cities the appearance of a pair of black 'Chucks' suspended over power lines indicates the presence of drug dealers in the area. This type of shoe is often referred to as 'drug shoes.
In the past adidas were accused of capitalising on the drug culture when they marketed the 'Hemp " range of shoes. Because of the controversy adidas renamed the product as the 'Gazelle natural". Reportedly the shoe was first referred to as the 'Chronic" (after slang for a drug user). This is not the first time the company has skirted with controversy over a name. One of their leather shoes was called "tobacco" which referred to its colour and nothing to do with burnable burley.
In the new generation of Sk8r shoes some styles boast of a “stash pocket “.
Many jails forbid prisoners to wear Nike Air or similar sneakers because prisoners have been caught storing soles contraband in the soles. The Air chamber made a useful place to plank razor blades and drugs. Doing time, prisoners wear simple sneakers or sandshoes.
Gang sneakers refer to street gangs in the US and their preference for certain styles which then become their trademarks. In Chicago for example members wear 'Chucks' with the blue star changed to a different colour. Los Angeles gangs wear Nike Cortex, whereas gangs in Wisconsin wear either red or black laces in their black sneakers.