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How Sneaker Culture Went from Subculture to Mainstream

Sneaker culture is a multi-billion dollar industry, and its connection to popular culture and its biggest stars play a large part in the overall fandom of sneaker enthusiasts.

Athletes and by extension popular culture first became a focal point in the production of sneakers in 1934 when The Converse Rubber Shoe company created the first ever shoe endorsement by naming their All Star’s after athlete Chuck Taylor.

Controversy backfired in 1985 when the commissioner of the NBA, David Stern, banned Michael Jordan from playing basketball wearing his signature sneakers. In a now iconic act of rebellion, Jordan wore them anyway. This act of defiance ultimately created a high demand for the outlawed footwear and catapulted the sale of Jordan’s sneakers.

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Nike and Michael Jordan’s now famous banned ad

Around the same time Hip hop was also an influential part of the sneaker culture. Run DMC emerged as the first musicians to break into the sneaker game when they produced the hit song “My Adidas” which ultimately led to a contract with the brand. Now Hip Hop artists sign deals with major shoe manufacturers like Adidas, Nike, Reebok and Puma to promote their shoes. Today Kanye West has teamed up with companies such as Nike and Adidas to produce his signature “Yeezy’s”, Singer Rihanna followed suit this year debuting her very own collection of footwear through Puma called “Fenty’s”, and in a clear next step in the progression of sneaker heads into popular culture, movie stars have signed deals such as comedian Kevin Hart who was the first to enter the sneaker industry with his production of “Hustle Harts ” with the help of Nike.

Sneaker culture has seen vast changes in the last twenty years as new athletes, musicians, and stars have produced their own footwear. Today millennials support their favorite celebrity by collecting their latest sneaker.