Young boys with sneakers slung around their shoulders and pockets full of cash, huddle in hotel ballrooms and high school gyms, shouting and bartering as if they were on a trading room floor. This latest sports footwear craze, this teenage marketplace for high-end sneakers, has spread across the US. These teenage traders know their stuff; they recite resale values and spout debut dates for new lines.
One of the 14-year-olds already has 81 pairs in his sneaker collection, costing $11,000 but worth probably $20,000 if he sold them all. But that’s a small corner of the market: basketball sneaker sales made up $4.5 billion of the total $21 billion athletic shoe business, according to Princeton Retail Analysis.
At a Manhattan event, one young vendor turned away $98,000 in cash for his Nike Air Yeezy 2 “Red October” sneakers, designed by Kanye West and signed by the artist himself onstage at the Nassau Coliseum in February.
Excerpts from Article and Photo Source:
1. A Brief History of Sneaker Brands
Check out the link for a gallery of thirteen great pictures. Here’s a cheat sheet:
- 1916 – U.S. Rubber, Keds, original sneaker
- 1917 – Converse Rubber Shoe Company, All Star, high-top basketball shoes
- 1920 – ‘Adi’ Dassler, shoemaker for Jesse Owens (1936); founds Adidas (1948)
- 1937 – PF Flyers (for Posture Foundation), distributes weight evenly
- 1958 – Reebok is founded
- 1960 – New Balance, the Trackster, in multiple widths
- 1970 (circa) – Nike co-founder creates treads with kitchen waffle iron
- 1991 – Reebok, the Pump, custom cushioning
- 2004 – Nike, the Free, original minimal shoe
- 2005 – Vibram, the FiveFingers, sections for each toe
- 2006 – Nike, the Air Max 360, foamless midsole
- 2006 – Nike, the Air Zoom, ‘talks’ to Apple’s iPod nano
- 2011 – Brooks, the PureProject, for a natural stride.
Article by Dave McGinn, The Globe and Mail, May 12, 2012.
2. He Says “Sneakers” and… She Says “Tennis Shoes”
Josh Katz, graphics editor at the New York Times and PhD student – http://www4.ncsu.edu/~jakatz2/ did an online questionnaire on specific word choices across the USA. This map shows the concentration of the use of “sneakers” as a vocabulary item.
Source for map:
and more about this study:
This week’s blog will explore how sneakers have a wedge position in the sub-cultures of fashion and athletics. Are we quietly trading our rubber soles, by another name?