Air VaporMax 2021
The lines of the sports field fade. Shoes are no longer just for the competition or the warm-up. Sports shoes turn into sneakers, fashion for the street. The boundary between sportswear and fashion disappears. The shoe drawer gets a metamorphosis. And Sportshowroom helps out.
A cube around is a guarantee to see a classic. Sneakers determine the streetscape. That's what the makers of the first sports shoes never thought last century. Subconsciously they laid a solid foundation. Because the sneaker of today, is the sports shoe of the past.
The roots of most of today's sneakers lie on the athletics track. Already in the first half of the 20th century, adidas (which was not yet called that) and New Balance provided runners with special footwear. In the second half of that century, a few decades later, Asics, Puma and Nike entered the same market. Inspired by the sport of running, designers of the biggest brands sketched in three decades the first models of shoes that the world now wears as sneakers.
Adidas kicked off with the Gazelle. Initially running shoe, but in no time transformed into a training shoe and, largely because film stars and musicians started wearing the shoes, everyday fashion shoe. Shortly afterwards, Nike's Internationalist and PUMA's Suede followed the same route. On the street. In the meantime, the adidas Stan Smith, an unsurpassed tennis shoe from the age of 60, had copied the trick from athletics. At the feet of the world's biggest stars, the iconic white shoe also began a second life as a sneaker. The first signs that the boundary between sport and fashion was blurring.
In the 1970s, on the west coast of the United States, it became quite clear how fashion, culture and sport could merge into one another. Not at the feet of stars this time, but at the feet of misunderstood youngsters on skateboards. Shoes from the local company Vans turned out to be perfect for their rebellious sport. Everything turned out to be possible on those shoes: going to school and skating in abandoned swimming pools and parking lots. Today, Vans Old Skool is still used in this way. Many brands followed the Californian brand in that sport. Nike was particularly successful with the Janoski.
Similar events took place around the basketball court. The biggest stars of the NBA played almost three-quarters of the 20th century matches on Converse All Stars and adidas Superstar. Of course, the boys and girls on the street courts didn't fail to notice this. With iconic basketball sneakers at their feet, someone was just a little bit more in the neighbourhood. In the early eighties, Nike only joined the front line here. Yet, with shoes like Air Force 1 and the Jordan 1 series, their influence was immediately enormous - both on the basketball floor and on the sidewalk.
The sneaker race that began in the 1990s was astonishing. Nike Air Max launched at high speed. Visible Air proved to be an unprecedented technological advance. Every year after the Nike Air Max 1 release, newer, even better models were introduced. Every now and then one of them jumped out, like the Air Max 90, Air Max 95 and Air Max 97. Since then, that process hasn't slowed down. Another striking trend from the nineties was wearing Reebok shoes. The German brand had a decade earlier almost single-handedly set up the aerobics sport. Their recognizable white (sometimes high) sneakers became world famous for it.
In the second decade of the 21st century, Nike expanded the Air Max range dynamically - even more Air - with the Air Max 270, Air Max 720 and Vapormax. Big competitor adidas, which also took everything but a step backwards, successfully increased the same years with the highly innovative sole of the Ultra Boost. A great gift for sports brands that time was the increased demand from young people for retro sneakers. Popular sports shoes of yesteryear got a modern variant, like the Huarache, or old models that never completely broke through, got the spotlight they once hoped for.
At the same time, the first sneakers emerged, whose origins did not necessarily lie in a sport in the last century. This is how adidas sketched the NMD, after observing a young, mobile, urban lifestyle. The nomads of the city. Probably the future of sneakers.
In less than half a century sneakers have transcended their sport, landed in different subcultures and sometimes even claimed a place in world history. In this way, each sneaker has its own story: a cube around it is never the same again.