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Get a sneak peek at the Brooklyn Museum's sneaker show

Feast your eyes on these classic kicks that will be hitting the ground running in the Borough of Kings

By Howard Halle
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There’s only one piece of apparel that’s more ubiquitous than jeans today, and that is, of course, sneakers. People love them, salivate over them and, hell, have actually been killed over them. Some have commanded obscene prices, going north of $100,000 for a rare pair. For the hard-core collector, sneakers are as serious as a heart attack after a game of H–O–R–S–E. But while it may seem that the sneaker’s exploding popularity as the globe’s shoe of choice is fairly recent, its roots go back more than century. That’s one takeaway from the Brooklyn Museum’s show “The Rise of Sneaker Culture,” a history of sneaks opening July 10 that features 150 examples dating from the 1860s to the present. The show follows the evolution of sneakers from their birth in sports (track and field, basketball) to their current role as status symbol and urban icon. Shoes from Adidas, Converse, Nike and Prada trace their transition from the street to the runway. Whether you’re a footwear fetishist or not, this is one show bound to provoke a shoegasm.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the Brooklyn Museum in NYC

1860-65, Thomas Dutton and Thorowgood. Running Shoe. Northampton Museums and Art Gallery, Northampton, UK.
Photograph: Courtesy Greg Washington/American Federation of Arts/Bata Shoe Museum

1860-65, Thomas Dutton and Thorowgood. Running Shoe. Northampton Museums and Art Gallery, Northampton, U.K.

Photograph: Courtesy American Federation of Arts

1917, Converse Rubber Shoe Company. All Star/Non Skid. Converse Archives.

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Circa 1925, Dominion Rubber Company. Fleet Foot. Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto.
Photograph: Courtesy Hal Roth/American Federation of Arts/Bata Shoe Museum

Circa 1925, Dominion Rubber Company. Fleet Foot. Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto.

1936, Gebrüdder Dassler Schuhfabrik. Modell Waitzer. adidas AG.
Photograph: Courtesy Adidas AG /Studio Waldeck/American Federation of Arts

1936, Gebrüdder Dassler Schuhfabrik. Modell Waitzer. Adidas AG.

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Late 1940s-Early 1950s, Converse. Gripper. Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto.
Photograph: Courtesy Ron Wood/American Federation of Arts/Bata Shoe Museum

Late 1940s–early 1950s, Converse. Gripper. Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto.

Photograph: Courtesy Ron Wood/Courtesy American Federation of Arts/Bata Shoe Museum

1974, Nike. Waffle Trainer. Northampton Museums and Art Gallery, Northampton, U.K.

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Photograph: Courtesy Adidas AG/Studio Waldeck/American Federation of Arts

Circa 1980s, Adidas. Stan Smith. adidas AG. 

Photograph: Courtesy Ron Wood/American Federation of Arts/Bata Shoe Museum

1984, Adidas. Micropacer. Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto; Gift of Phillip Nutt.

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Photograph: Courtesy Ron Wood/American Federation of Arts/Bata Shoe Museum

1985, Nike. Air Jordan I, Nike Archives.

1988, Nike. Air Jordan III. Kosow Sneaker Museum (Electric Purple Chameleon, LLC).
Photograph: Courtesy Kathy Tarantola/American Federation of Arts

1988, Nike. Air Jordan III. Kosow Sneaker Museum (Electric Purple Chameleon, LLC).

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1997, Nike. Foamposite. Nike Archives.
Photograph: Courtesy Ron Wood/American Federation of Arts/Bata Shoe Museum

1997, Nike. Foamposite. Nike Archives.

2003, Nike x Supreme. Dunk High Pro SB. Collection of Sheraz Amin.
Photograph: Courtesy Ron Wood/American Federation of Arts/Bata Shoe Museum

2003, Nike x Supreme. Dunk High Pro SB. Collection of Sheraz Amin.

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2008–12, Nike x Tom Sachs. NikeCraft Lunar Underboot Aeroply Experimentation Research Boot Prototype. Collection of the artist.
Photograph: Courtesy American Federation of Arts

2008–12, Nike x Tom Sachs. NikeCraft Lunar Underboot Aeroply Experimentation Research Boot Prototype. Collection of the artist.

2009, Louis Vuitton x Kanye West. Don. Private Collection.
Photograph: Courtesy Ron Wood/American Federation of Arts/Bata Shoe Museum

2009, Louis Vuitton x Kanye West. Don. Private Collection.

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2010, Puma x Kehinde Wiley, Tekkies Mame. Collection of the Artist
Photograph: Courtesy Peerapod Chiowanich/American Federation of Arts

2010, Puma x Kehinde Wiley, Tekkies Mame. Collection of the Artist.

2011, Pierre Hardy. Poworama. Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto; Gift of Pierre Hardy.
Photograph: Courtesy Ron Wood/American Federation of Arts/Bata Shoe Museum

2011, Pierre Hardy. Poworama. Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto; Gift of Pierre Hardy.

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Photograph: Courtesy Ron Wood/American Federation of Arts/Bata Shoe Museum

2011, Adidas x Run–DMC. 25th Anniversary Superstar. Courtesy of Run–DMC, collection of Erik Blam.

2012, PUMA x Undefeated. Clyde Gametime Gold. PUMA Archives.
Photograph: Courtesy Ron Wood/American Federation of Arts/Bata Shoe Museum

2012, PUMA x Undefeated. Clyde Gametime Gold. PUMA Archives.

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2015, Common Projects. Achilles Low. Collection of Common Projects.
Photograph: Courtesy American Federation of Arts

2015, Common Projects. Achilles Low. Collection of Common Projects.

See the exhibition

Nike x Tom Sachs, NikeCraft Lunar Underboot Aeroply Experimentation Research Boot Prototype, 2008–12
Courtesy American Federation of Arts

“The Rise of Sneaker Culture”

Art

Like blue jeans, sneakers have become ubiquitous, must-have accessory around the globe. were a largely American phenomenon that conquered apparel and fashion. The Brooklyn Museum retraces the history of kicks, from their emergence in early 20th-century to the present.

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