Urban wear and street wear have changed and evolved throughout the years. In a previous blog post we took a look at the origins of the fashion movement, but purposely neglected to address a major facet of the industry: sneakers. Sneakers deserve their very own article as they constitute a major segment of the urban wear market, so much so that there are now websites and blogs devoted to “sneaker culture”.
In the early 80’s, just as urban wear was making an entry into popular culture, Run DMC became one of its biggest influencers. Known for colorful clothing and a healthy amount “bling,” Run DMC also wore Adidas’ famous shell-toe track shoes. The band really loved their shoes going so far as to dedicate an entire song the them entitled My Adidas.
Adidas was most definitely the leader of the urban fashion sneaker market in the early years, however, a radical shift was about to happen. For that we — and Nike — can thank His-Airness, Michael Jordan.
Meanwhile, on the street wear side of the fashion tracks, the big name in the sneaker business was Chuck Taylor’s All-Star. All-Star’s were originally conceived as low-tech basketball sneakers; in the 1960’s basically every basketball player was sporting them on the court. Rock stars were not immune to Chuck Taylor’s influence. Most notably, the Ramones wore the shoes on all of their album covers, making them an essential element for those seeking to emulate their punkish, street style look. This point in sneaker history marks something of a watershed moment, as basketball players began to favor a different style of athletic shoe, particularly Michael Jordan.
Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time. His six NBA titles and legendary career cemented more than his legacy as an athlete. It helped him to create one of the most popular, lucrative sneakers of all time: Air Jordan’s. Air Jordan’s were colorful and loud, and when worn by the best player of the time, well, lets just say that you couldn’t get better marketing than that. The shoe consistently sold out and still does to this day, in both the new designs as well as the retro call-back versions.
Today sneakers constitute a huge part of the urban and street wear industries. Athletes as well as musicians continue to influence fashion trends and sneaker culture is one of its prime examples. Just think of LeBron James and Jay-Z and their influence not only fashion trends, but sales within the sneaker sector.