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Sneakers : from american ghetto to fashion week podium

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Par   •  3 Avril 2019  •  Étude de cas  •  2 109 Mots (9 Pages)  •  308 Vues

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From American Ghetto To Fashion Week Podium

Contrary to what one might think, sneakers did not appear in the 1980s with the emergence of hip-hop. If this current has undeniably favored the birth of the phenomenon, it actually dates from the end of the 19th century.

At that time, the use of rubber by industry intensified and diversified. It gradually expanded from car industry to many other sectors, including footwear. Among the initiators of this real revolution is the United States Rubber Company, nowadays better known as Uniroyal. Since its creation in 1892, it split its various activities related to the work of rubber in specific divisions. Originally composed of more than thirty brands, the one dedicated to footwear manufacturing, called Keds in 1916, experienced strong growth thanks to the success of what is still considered the very first pair with a flexible sole.

Keds Commercial ,

Commercialized in 1917, this pair marked the spirits with its comfort and its discretion provided by this famous rubber sole surmounted by a canvas rod. This combination of materials made it possible to move without making any noise so the shoe manufactured by Keds was quickly nicknamed "Sneakers". If it was far from sneakers in their current form, Converse created the same year a pair closer to contemporary models : the Chuck Taylor All Star .

Converse Commercial ,

In the 70’s , the search for excellence of the two big business pundits, Adidas and Nike, led this domain to a whole new level .

They quickly invested Brooklyn breakdancers in the 70’s, then NBA’s floor and today on the podium of Fashion Week.

How did this « sneaker » culture go beyond sports and democratize first in the US then worldwide?

First , I’m going to talk about the genesis of the « Sneakers » phenomenon with Michael Jordan and the Nike Air Jordan followed by Run DMC and the Adidas Superstars . Then i’ll talk about today’s sneakers and luxury brand .

I - The NBA Floor

The true beginning of sneaker culture, as we know it now, can be traced back in 1984 when the first shoe from Nike in collaboration with Michael Jordan , the NBA basketball player, was created : The Nike Air Jordan I

He is , at the time, freshly selected into the NBA and quickly established himself as a growing superstar .

The original Air Jordan I ,

« Jordan was a clean cut up and coming superstar » says Riku Laitasalo in her thesis ; it was quite a contradiction with the perceived delinquent image that surrounded the rest of the NBA .

Jordan, who was the first to have that clean image, was quickly recognized by some industries and sponsors such as Nike or Adidas. He finally chose Nike instead of Adidas because Nike offered him a percentage on future sales.

It was one, if not the first, basketball player signature product. To this point, only tennis players like Stan Smith had their own signature collaboration with a brand.

Today, this pair is very standard and is not as weird as some new shoes that we will see later in this essay. However, it has an iconic design that was really uncommon at the time, it was a very avant-gardist shoe. It really combines fashion and basketball performance with a high top shoe to protect ankles, various leather layers and a very grippy gum sole.

The only problem with this pair was that it challenged the NBA ; basketball players can’t wear shoes with different colors from those of their respective team. So Jordan, who was playing in the all white and red Chicago team could not use the black and red Air Jordan.

Nike used this ban to make a clever TV ad saying that « NBA cant stop you from wearing them » . This spot was a hit and everybody wanted to buy that shoe .

Air Jordan I Nike TV Commercial ,

The distinctive design of this shoe transcended basketball and became part

of the American culture , everyone wanted that shoe at that time. Even with a retail price of 125 USD, which was very expensive for a pair of shoe , the pair was sold-out everywhere .

Even now Nike continues to introduce new styles of Jordan’s every year and today Sneakers fan hunt down limited, rare and vintage kicks such as a newly released Air Jordan 1 « Not for resale » who sold-out in less than 1min on the Nike website and can be found at some dealers at almost 700USD .

This pair marked the beginning of a new era for sports shoes. It was not only used for sport but also as an everyday life shoe in America. Suburban malls saw this opportunity and started to sell sneakers who were only available in small stores in some big cities like NYC or LA . Sneakers quickly became available everywhere .

II - Run DMC : Superstars U.S. Rappers

Adidas is a German sportswear brand created by Adolf Dassler in 1949, but it was almost 20 years later on the other side of the Atlantic that the legend of the 3-band brand has truly been written. Here we are in the late 70s, in the streets of Bed-Stuy Brooklyn. A gang of young people put a piece of cardboard on the ground, and began to gesture, alternating between acrobatic figures and robotic movements on funky music with jerky rhythms: breakdance was born.

With the emergence of breakdance, the B-boy style became one of the many codes that irremediably intensified the relationship between culture and sportswear. In 1980, all B-boys only have eyes for a model that meets the sweet premonition name of Adidas Superstar (also known as Shell Toe, because of its shell-shaped sole). The dancers wore it with imposing laces and proudly displayed it in the new TV shows of the time, such as "Soul Train » on WCIU-TV or « Graffiti Rock » on WPIX-TV .

Joseph "Run Rev" Simmons, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, and Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell formed the Run DMC. They were wearing Adidas tracksuits with a flush logo, a huge gold chain around the neck, a pair of adidas Superstar without laces (to look like prisoners) and a black

Run DMC , Fedora on the head to top it off.



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