A few weeks ago we shared some news about the Brooklyn Museum’s “Rise of Sneaker Culture” exhibition. The exhibit, drawn from the collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, significant private collectors, and other museums and archives is now on the move and currently calling Ohio’s Toledo Museum of Art home. Unable to make it to Brooklyn and Ohio just a little too far?
For those of us unable to check out this killer exhibit in person, Elizabeth Semmelhack has just the thing. Acclaimed shoe historian and senior curator at the Bata Museum, Semmelhack has authored a book inspired by the exhibit and it’s already being touted as “something akin to a holy text” for sneaker devotees.
Semmelhack has assembled people from all walks of the creative world of sneakers — think Tinker Hatfield, Bobbito Garcia, Eric Avar, Walt Frazier, and Christian Louboutin to name a few — in order to track the rise of the sneaker from basic athletic gear to it’s current place as pop culture icon and status symbol. Exploring over two centuries (don’t miss the spiked running shoe from 1860!) worth of trends, marketing, and technological advances, the book is truly a thoughtful, comprehensive, and highly educational history all sneakerheads should own.
Interviewees range from design innovators, high profile collectors, and various curators from around the globe. But of course that’s not all — there are HUNDREDS of full color photos depicting the most “grail-status” kicks to ever be created. Whether you buy this for yourself or as a gift (or a gift to yourself? We’re not judging.) it’s sure to be a win.
PS. Today we’re officially kicking off our DIRTIEST KICKS CONTEST! Got some dirty, beat up, beyond salvageable kicks? We want to see them. And then we want to clean them. That’s right! Ship them to us for a complimentary cleaning and we’ll send them back looking fresh. With the help of our Facebook and Twitter followers, we’ll select the top 3 dirtiest kicks and then share the videos of us bringing them back to life. So go on, show us what you’ve got and we’ll show you just how serious we are about being the best, most premium cleaner out there. Tag #RufusCleanMyKicks to enter!
Last week we talked about sneakers and sneaker culture being everywhere, and it is: from well curated museum exhibits, even to the big screen.
This August, filmmakers David T. Friendly and Mick Partridge released their documentary “SNEAKERHEADZ“. The film examines the global phenomenon of obsessive sneaker collecting, chronicles the sneaker’s origin and the rise of it’s cultural influence over the last three decades. Starting of course, with Nike’s 1984 Air Jordan, SNEAKERHEADZ sheds light on the correlation of sneaker obsession with the emergence of hip-hop and the marketing of sports icons as pop culture icons. As brands began capitalizing on the explosive obsession, we began to see the limited edition models and highly coveted custom models being released.
The hype for each new release was so high — and the demand so widespread among those of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds — that a new pair could mean riots in front of stores and people, literally, dying for shoes. The movie does not neglect that dark side of sneakermania, instead choosing to explore what could possibly drive consumers to such drastic measures. Estimates show that over 1,000 people a year are killed over sneaker thefts.
Weighing in with their own personal experiences and perspectives are a well rounded and impressively diverse variety of influencers from all walks of the sneaker culture. Among the interviewees are Frank “The Butcher” Rivera and Jeff Staple, as well as celebrity collectors such as comedian Mike Epps and rapper Wale. One interviewee (only half-jokingly) describes a sneakerhead as someone “who will forgo paying the rent to buy a shoe they will never wear,” referencing the widespread phenomenon of buying two pairs, “One to rock, one to stock!”. Sports star Jeremy Guthrie admits that, like many other obsessed collectors, he lost count of his own collection a long time ago.
That’s a lot of shoes.
Friendly and Partridge travel the globe exploring the impact of sneakermania as far away as Toyko, and viewers are treated to the footage captured along the way.
While the film does dive into interesting subject matter exploring when a “collector” is more accurately labeled as someone with an obsessive hoarding disorder, it remains non-judgemental and lovingly supportive of the industry it’s critiquing.
As the movie shows, different styles have come and gone over the last 30 years, but one thing is certain: sneakers (and the sneakerheads who love them) are here to stay.
You’ve always known sneakers are cool. These days it seems like everyone else is noticing too — celebs, fashion designers, style bloggers — everybody is paying attention to the sneaker game. In the past year alone there’ve been several books and even a documentary-style movie.
Sneakers are everywhere — even in museums.
Courtesy of the Bata Shoe Museum, The Brooklyn Museum debuted an exhibition titled “The Rise of Sneaker Culture” on July 10, and it will run through October 4. The exhibit aims to “explore the complex social history and cultural significance of the footwear now worn by billions of people throughout the world”.
As anyone versed in the history of sneakers knows, that’s no simple task! The social history of sneakers is a rich one, and the evolving cultural significance over the last several decades has been a telling factor of the changing times. It’s been quite the journey to the current position as status symbol and icon of urban culture.
In addition to exploring the history and providing social commentary, visitors are also treated to a display of 150 pairs of kicks including some of the rarest and most historic. Not only have the curators pulled from the archives of the big guys — Nike, Converse (from 1917!) and Adidas to name a few — but private collectors Daryl “DMC” McDaniels, Bobbito Garcia, and Dee Wells have contributed kicks from their own collections as well. To paraphrase Bobbito, the kicks on display are the type of fly kicks any discerning collector would dish out knots of cash for.
To round it out, the exhibit is supplemented with film footage, original design drawings from the legendary Tinker Hatfield, and a variety of interactive media including Run-D.M.C.’s iconic “My Adidas” video.
While the exhibit has garnered mixed reviews for not diving deep enough, we can at least all agree on one thing. Its very existence represents a giant leap in the mainstream culture beginning to recognize and respect sneaker culture. About time for a 200 year old industry that rakes in more than 55 billion dollars a year!
If you can’t catch the exhibit at it’s current home in Brooklyn, there’s still hope- The Bata Shoe Museum is taking it on the road. Next stop: the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio.
Are you going? have you been? Let us know what you thought, below.