Thursday, May 14, 2009

Why do people collect sneakers?

Having an appreciation for designer trainers apparently puts you in a category of people who appreciate one-off's and like to collect limited editions and exclusives. The shoes although seldom worn give their owners great pleasure as well as something to talk about and be proud that they are the 'only' one who has that particular pair. Ask any self-respecting sneakerhead and they will tell you that the usual fashion rules do not apply in regards to canvas footwear. Being smart does not mean being ostentatious and the whole function of decks is to allow the wearer to stand apart from the rest of establishment. The leisure end of sports footwear manufacturers have always worked hard at marketing their anti-mainstream credentials. Converse, a division of Nike, has been especially successful at selling itself as the outsider's footwear of choice. Originally designed for pro-basketballers Converse's Chuck Taylor sneakers soon became the footwear of choice for the delincquint. From the time James Dean was photographed wearing his Jack Purcells in the 50s to Kurt Cobain’s Chucks in the 90s the Allstar shoes are a badge of youth and a lucrative youth culture brand with some 750 million pairs thought to be in existence worldwide. So where do chic sneakers come from? The answer is the hip hop culture and its fetish with sleek footwear. Rap Royalty like Run DMC immortalised their favourite runners in their song “My adidas” and made it clear to all chic sneaks were important to street credability. This started a landslide of interest with The Beastie Boys are among others designing their own range of footwear. When hip-hop stars such as Tupac Shakur and Puff Daddy modelled Nike Air Max in the mid-90s, kids across the globe had to have pimped up over-pumped shoes. Hip hop impresario Jay-Z once claimed he wore a fresh pair of Adidas sneakers every day now the urban fashion mogul recently seen sporting Nike Air Yeezys designed by fellow rapper Kanye West wants to design his own kicks. Jay-Z and his Rocawear team have plans to introduce the Rocawear R+ Evolution in June 2009. Critics believe the new range are rather too similar to the shoes designed by Kanye West which may mean the quarrelsome Jay-Z may have more trouble ahead.

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