“A sneakerhead is someone who learnt Roman numerals by collecting Jordans.”Elliott Curtis, Sneakology Co-founder
The term ‘sneaker’ was coined by advertiser, Henry Nelson McKinney in 1917 – his take on the perfect shoe for basketball. McKinney stated that the rubber sole was soft and quiet, making ‘sneaking’ up on people easier.
Sneaker culture may seem new and trendy however this niche market has been on the rise for the last 60 years.
Converse laid a foundation in 1917 with their All Stars made of canvas. Adidas came in and was the first to introduce leather and suede into their sneakers in the 1970’s. Reebok and Puma made their way into the game in the early 80’s and found on the feet of pro-athletes.
The 1980’s became the moment in which sneakers began to take centre stage.
Let’s lay out the scene… it’s the 1980’s America. Hip hop culture is gaining momentum. Run-DMC and LL Cool J are busting rhymes on the radio and Michael Jordan on the basketball court.
Air Jordans were first released in 1984 for the basketball players alone, before being released to the public later that year. The release of this blue and black colourway signaled the beginning of sneaker culture . This saw one of the first notable collaborations between brand and sportsman.
Sneaker culture began to find its way into the voice of artists, becoming part of the pop culture lexicon in the form of Run-DMC’s song, My Adidas.
The sneaker rose in popularity and became inextricably linked to the rise and consumption of hip hop culture. It became a means to identify with a subculture.
What began as kids trying emulate their heros has now seen kicks transitioning from the playground to runways and boardrooms.
Whether you’re a passionate sneakerhead looking to own some of the greats or a newbie who walks around in Superstars or Converse, it’s clear that sneaker culture has become part of daily lives and our style lexicon.
Geestep is deeply connected to the sneaker culture developing in Africa. We design and manufacture for a number of local and international brands. Get in touch for all your footwear production queries.