Sportswear fans of the world unite, and throw away your trainers!
It assumed different incarnations on either side of the Atlantic. In America,
it became known in the 1880s as the sneaker – thought to derive from the
silence of the rubber sole. Keds was one of the first companies, in 1917, to
sell the sneaker on a mass scale. In the same year, Converse launched its
own All Stars basketball shoe.
Over here, as early as the 1890s we had the J W Foster – later to become
Reebok – running shoe, the first to include spikes. In Germany, in 1925, Adi
Dassler – father of the Adidas brand – dreamt up a whole range of running
shoes, with customised varieties of spikes.
For all their early popularity, running shoes then were used for exactly that
– running. The idea that you might wear them with a suit – as Paul McCartney
and bolshy teenagers do at formal occasions – would have been an outrageous
demolition of the Chinese wall between formal clothes and sportswear.