Sneaker Mirror

30 05 2010

I came across this sneaker inspired project and had to share with you all.  As I have displayed before, the passion for sneakers by individuals is transparent in contemporary art work.

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Art & Sole

21 04 2010

I would like to somewhat digress from my previous sneaker background posts and provide you all with the creative side of sneakers.  I recently purchased a book called, Art & Sole:  Contemporary Sneaker Art & Design, that is written and designed by Intercity.  It served as an inspiration for my topic of sneakers and helped me discover another side of the culture I would have otherwise not known.

Art & Sole Cover

It is a book that focuses exclusively on contemporary, cutting-edge sneaker design.  Further, it seeks out to explore and celebrate the creative side of sneaker culture.  One half of the book documents the burgeoning art scene connected with the sneaker phenomenon.  It showcases artist and designer collaborations, and emphasizes the iconic nature of the sneaker.  These artists and designers go as far as actually influencing the design of sneakers themselves.

Here are some of the interesting findings in the book in which artists base their work on sneakers:

In 2007, the collaboration between Tanaka and sports fashion brand Onitsuka Tiger celebrates Japanese creativity and innovation.  They created a unique design that allows sneaker enthusiasts to create their own customized origami sneakers.

Example of origami sneakers

To create your own design, download the origami template.

For a tutorial on how to create the paper art, visit the project website.

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I Have Pop was a concept conceived in 2003 by a graffiti artist who went by the name JUSE.  His idea was to create a different perspective on particular elements of pop culture through street art projects.

“The items themselves and the location create the context.  Not everyone will be able to understand what is being communicated, but the people who it is intended for will get it.”

Think Outside The Box Project

The featured project was produced in collaboration with Solebox, and the idea was to create sneakers from the boxes they are packaged in.

“Because most of my projects have a critical note, I dubbed the project Think Outside The Box, hoping to spur people on to think a little further than the next cool pair of sneakers.”

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The Electric Light Shoe is a homage to the ambiance and energy of Japan.  It was the focal point in the Electric Tiger Land campaign.  It was designed by Dutch agency Freedom of Creation, and measures one meter long.  The sculpture features a city within a shoe and incorporates many elements from Tokyo’s skyline including neon signage.  Many of the features are individually lit by one of the 300 LED lights and there is also an iPod dock which plays ambient sounds.

Electric Light Shoe created by FOC designers

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There are many other featured sneaker art and designs, and I intend to explore them in future posts.





An All Star

24 03 2010

In my previous post I mentioned how the sneaker company, Converse, revolutionized the game of basketball and played a critical role in the success of sneakers.  However, I did not mention how the lifelong work of a man behind the company was at the forefront of such change.  You may or may not have heard of the name Charles H. Taylor, most people knew him by the name Chuck Taylor.  With nearly 800 million pairs of sneakers sold, Taylor’s signature is arguably the single most successful endorsement of sports equipment anywhere in the world, ever.  This endorsement would later pave the way for future sneaker endorsements by professional athlete’s as we see today.

Throughout the early 1900s, Chuck Taylor was nationally known as a former professional basketball player but probably more important, as a teacher who put on thousands of “Fundamentals of Basketball” clinics in high school and college gyms across the country.  His lifelong devotion to the game of basketball enabled him to reach audiences, across all levels and across the country, involved in the sport of basketball.  As a young high school basketball player from Indiana, Chuck Taylor wore the Converse All Star sneaker.  He loved the sneaker so much, and its potential for the sport of basketball, he joined the Converse sales team in 1921.  Taylor used his clinics and network within the sport as a platform to promote the All Star sneaker.  His personal salesmanship and clever marketing led to the successful acceptance of the All Star sneaker in the game of basketball.

Chuck would also personally call on retail sporting goods stores across the country-that personal service, along with his clinics, is what really made his name and made Converse Chuck Taylor All Star shoes so popular.

As a result, in 1923 Chuck Taylor’s signature was added to the Converse All Star and was renamed Converse Chuck Taylor All Star.

Further, Taylor went on to make great contributions to the sneaker.  He helped make important changes to the original shoe and designed the optical white high top model for the 1936 Olympics.  Also, during World War II, Taylor served as a captain in the Air Force and coached basketball teams.  It is no surprise that his white high top “Chucks” became the official sneaker of the U.S. Armed Forces.  By the 1960s, the Chuck Taylor All Star became the choice of sneakers by basketball athletes and youths at the time.  Converse enjoyed 80% of the U.S. sneaker market share at the time.

Converse All Star No. 1

In 1968, Chuck Taylor was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and labeled as the “Ambassador to Basketball”.  Sadly, a year later he passed away.  His name lives on with the imprint of his signature on the sneaker, and has become a cultural icon by becoming the most famous name in sports.  Although the sneaker is approaching its century long existence, it has not changed one bit from its original design and continues to be the most widely sold sneaker.

For more on the true story of the man behind the most famous sneaker in history, click on the photo below.

Chuck Taylor Story





Sneaky History

17 03 2010

Plimsoll High

Plimsoll Low

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To understand the present, we must first examine the past.  Thus, we must go back, way back to over a century ago to learn about the origins of sneakers.  By the mid 1800’s, the first rubber-soled shoes, called plimsoll, were being manufactured in the UK.  Meanwhile, it wasn’t until the late 1890’s that Goodyear Shoe Co., then a division of the U.S. Rubber Company, began to manufacture rubber and canvas shoes in the US under different names.  The company finally decided to settle on Keds as the best name.  By 1916, Keds created an American Classic by becoming the first mass marketed athletic shoes. This shoe was coined “sneakers” by Henry Nelson McKinney because the soles were quiet and allowed someone to “sneak” up silently.  Also very important during this time, Marquis Mills Converse started a rubber shoe company in 1908 by passing a rubber trust that prevented most companies from doing business directly with their retailers.  The renowned company, Converse, revolutionized the game of basketball by releasing the world’s first performance basketball shoe in 1917, the Converse All Star.

Converse All Star and Keds Champion

From this point forward, the athletic footwear industry or “sneakers” continued to grow and evolve.  Both Keds and Converse were pivotal in the success of sneakers.