Sneakerhead History 101: From Humble Beginnings to Cultural Icon

From humble beginnings to cultural icons, sneakers hold a long time history. Since its beginning in the 19th century, many countries have adopted these shoes for different occasions. In this blog, I will explain the long time history of these iconic shoes. Sports are not the only occasions, you will know these shoes more than just sports needs.


Let’s begin.

What is a Sneaker?

A sneaker is a kind of footwear. It is created for sports and physical activities. Sneakers have rubber soles. They are the ones who give us the comfort and the support. People also put on sneakers, when they are not, for instance, at a party. They are fashionable and have numerous designs. Sneakers are popular worldwide. They are fashionable for any outfit and event. These shoes are also utilized for physical exercises and walks. While other shoes do not have the same cultural background and are worn on different occasions, these shoes have a rich history and are worn on many occasions.

Sneaker Culture History and Popularity

Sneakers were first worn by the urban black youth and white skateboarders. These groups were the ones who were the first to adopt sneakers because of their fashion and usefulness. On the streets and in the skate parks, sneakers turned into a symbol of culture and identity. Their popularity spread beyond these communities, and as a result, they began to attract a bigger audience. The popularity of sneakers grew with the spread of hip-hop and skateboarding culture.


By the 21st century, sneakers had become the popular footwear in Asia. Japan, in particular, had a great deal of love for sneakers in the 1990s. American fashion brands were the must-have items in the shopping malls of the Middle East. Japanese sneaker fans were the first to be crazy about the limited edition releases and the unique designs. This love for sneakers in Japan was the reason why the world’s sneaker culture was influenced by this.

The Long Political History of Sneaker Culture

Sneakers have always been associated with politics since their creation in the 19th century. In the beginning, they were made for sports, but soon they turned into national identity and class symbols. In the beginning, the sneakers were the shoes of the sportsmen and the working class which were different from the elite, who wore formal shoes. The difference between the two activities was the social class and the transformation of leisure and work.


With the passing of time, sneakers also were connected with the problems of race and social significance. In the 20th century, sneakers were adopted by the black youth living in the cities, which symbolized their resilience and cultural expression. With the growth of hip-hop culture, sneakers turned into the symbols of defiance and the identity of the people. Nowadays, sneakers still have the same function of sending strong messages about individuality, social status, and resistance.

Out of the Box the Rise of Sneaker Culture

Sneaker culture is the beginning of the change in the views of footwear from the functional to the fashionable. Sneakers started as sportswear and then they became the fashion accessory and the mainstream culture. The transformation of sneakers from being a basic necessity to a fashionable accessory can be explained by several reasons, such as celebrity endorsements, brand collaborations, and the sneakerheads—the people who collect and trade rare and limited edition sneakers. The sneakers turned out to be the fashion symbols of style and status, which in turn made them a huge hit, and as a result, the trends and consumer behavior went through a major transformation worldwide.


To add to that, the internet and social media platforms were instrumental in spreading the sneaker culture. The online communities created a platform for hobbyists to meet, exchange information and exhibit their collections. Sneaker blogs, forums, and social media accounts created the hype around releases, which in turn made sneakerheads feel like they were part of a community and they were happy to do so. The digital age democratized access to the sneaker culture, and thus, enthusiasts from different backgrounds could participate and contribute to the growth and influence of the sneaker culture.

Sneaker Timeline


  • 1830s: The New Liverpool Rubber Company in England has the honor of making the first sneakers, which are called sand shoes. These are characterized by rubber soles and canvas uppers.


  • 1917: Converse announces the All-Star basketball shoe. Thus, this turns into a great force in the sneaker culture.


  • 1920s: Adi Dassler, who is the founder of Adidas, started producing athletic shoes in Germany. These shoes are liked by athletes.


  • 1950s: Sneakers turn into the emblem of rebellion and the youth culture. Teenagers begin to use them as a part of their everyday fashion, influenced by people like James Dean.


  • 1960s: Nike is a company that was established by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight. The brand launches the “Waffle Trainer,” thus, making the running shoes a new invention.


  • 1980s: Michael Jordan works together with Nike to start the Air Jordan line. This causes a worldwide sneaker craze and the sneaker’s position in popular culture is established.


  • 1990s: Hip-hop culture is the main factor that makes sneakers the trend in the fashion industry. Brands like Adidas and Nike are now a part of the music scene, which in turn, makes the demand for their signature models high.


  • 2000s: The limited edition releases and the collaborations with artists and designers are the usual things in the auto industry. Sneakers move from being a type of sports equipment to being the most fashionable item packed in custom shoe boxes cardboard.


  • 2010s: Sneaker culture is now considered as mainstream. Second-hand markets and sneaker conventions come into existence, showing the high demand and the collectible aspect of sneakers.


  • 2020s: The sustainable and innovative designs are the ones that become popular. Brands concentrate on eco-friendly materials and production methods, which is a sign of changing consumer values.

When were Sneakers Invented?

The sneakers were invented in the 19th century. The Liverpool Rubber Company in England was the first to produce the first sneakers in the 1830s. These early sneakers were called sand shoes. They were made of rubber soles and canvas tops. The beach activities were the main reason for the use of these things. Over time, sneakers evolved. They were more attractive and useful than ever before. Nowadays, sneakers are a popular footwear choice for both sports and casual activities.

Why are Sneakers called Sneakers?

Sneakers are named sneakers due to their quiet rubber soles. In the late 19th century, people realized that these shoes were noiseless when walking. In contrast to the noisy leather-soled shoes, sneakers permitted people to “sneak” around silently. This exceptional trait was the reason for the name “sneakers. ” Nowadays, the term is used by everyone to refer to these comfortable, versatile shoes.

Who Invented Sneakers?

The New Liverpool Rubber Company was the one who came up with the sneakers. They designed the first sneakers in the 1830s. These first models were named sand shoes. The shoes had rubber soles and canvas tops. People wore them for comfort and beach activities. This invention was the first step in the creation of the modern sneaker.

Bottom Line


So, you have got an idea about the long-time history of sneakers. Indeed, these shoes are cultural icons in many countries. From its beginning to its popularity in this digital age, you can find these shoes as the best choice for sportsmen and gym lovers. Above all, these shoes are simple, and light but luxurious in their look packed in high-quality sneaker boxes.