The first rubber soled shoes, not yet known as sneakers, made their appearance in the 1800's. By the 1890's Goodyear, just a rubber shoe company at the time, began making rubber and canvas shoes. The shoes went by a variety of names until they settled on Keds. It was actually Keds, once they became mass produced in 1917 that became known as sneakers. The moniker was bestowed by Henry Nelson McKinney, an advertising agent for N.W. Ayer & Son who noted that the shoes were quiet, making not a sound no matter what surface they came in contact with.
Keds that were among the first sneakers to actually be chosen for fashion reasons. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Keds were often worn with socks and leg warmers and became part of many cheerleading ensembles. As the popularity of Keds increased, other shoe manufacturers jumped on the band wagon. As far back as the 1960s, Pro Keds used for professional sports were popular with athletes. Today, the vintage fashion movement has made them popular again.
Today, Keds and many other manufacturers focus on individual style. Pairing clothing with fashion sneakers creates a total package for the person who wants to be appreciated for his or her style. Canvas tops, wedges and even personalized shoes can make so much more a fashion statement than the sneakers of years gone by.
Converse, Adidas and Nike all have had their moment in sun as fashion icons in the world of sneakers. As shoe manufacturers began to see the power their products had, they strove to create ever-changing designs, styles and looks that would appeal to broader consumer base. Now there is something available for every individual regardless of their age, tastes and budget constraints.
And sneakers aren't just for wearing with your jeans anymore. If you think I'm kidding, perhaps you haven't tuned in to music over the last few years. More than a few songs have been written about sneakers or at least feature them prominently. The popularity of wearing sneakers with everything has such appeal; the idea has even been immortalized in the popular song "La La Land Machine" by Demi Lovato. While she croons about wearing her Converse with her dresses, any sneakers in any color will do just as well.
The point, as sneakerheads know is that fashion doesn't make the sneaker. Sneakers make the fashion.
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By Sass Ashe