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The History of Sneakers

The first sports shoes were made by The Liverpool Rubber Company, which was founded by John Boyd Dunlop in the 1830s. The first shoes the company produced were canvas with rubber soles, used by Victorians on beach excursions. Later, the company created shoes for lawn tennis that were famously worn by tennis legend Frank Perry. The Converse All Star, now an iconic shoe, was originally designed for basketball in the 20th century. It wasn’t until the mid-1900s that Adidas and Nike helped the sneaker evolve from sportswear item to style icon. The first wave of the sneaker craze arrived in the 1970s and was defined by an underground sneaker culture and the emergence of hip-hop. Adidas’ Samba shoe became popular among those in the soccer/football subculture, while fans of the hip-hop group Run-DMC began seeking out Adidas shoes after the group released a song called "My Adidas." The second wave of the sneaker craze came in 1984 with the release of Nike Air Jordans. At this point in time, sneakers became a status item, with desirability often fueled by celebrity endorsements. The third wave is ongoing and is fueled by the onset of the digital age as well as the growth in sneaker marketing and reselling culture. It’s not uncommon for a single pair of limited-edition sneakers to sell for hundreds to thousands of dollars. Special editions like the Nike Air Yeezy 2 “Red October” and the Air Jordan x 1 Off-White “Chicago” are highly sought after by collectors; luxury brands like Gucci and Balenciaga also sell high-end sneakers that are collected by enthusiasts. In fact, sneakers are so popular today that the global sneaker resale market was valued at $6 billion (£4.6 billion) in 2019 and is forecast to hit $30 billion by 2030!

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