Athletic shoe is a generic name for the footwear
primarily designed for sports or other forms of physical exercise, but in recent years
has come to be used for casual everyday activities. Athletic shoes are also known as training
shoes or trainers, sandshoes, gym boots or joggers, running shoes, runners or gutties,
sneakers, tennis shoes, gym shoes, tennies, sports shoes, sneaks, tackies, rubber shoes
or canvers. Etymology
The British English term “trainer” derives from “training shoe”. There is evidence that
this usage of “trainer” originated as a genericised tradename for a make of training shoe made
in 1968 by Gola. Plimsolls are “low tech” athletic shoes, and
are also called ‘sneakers’ in American English and ‘daps’ in Welsh English. The word “sneaker”
is often attributed to Henry Nelson McKinney, an advertising agent for N. W. Ayer & Son,
who, in 1917, coined the term because the rubber sole made the shoe stealthy. However,
the word was in use at least as early as 1887, as the Boston Journ made reference to “sneakers”
as “the name boys give to tennis shoes”. History
These shoes acquired the nickname ‘plimsoll’ in the 1870s, derived, according to Nicholette
Jones’ book The Plimsoll Sensation, from the coloured horizontal band joining the upper
to the sole, which resembled the Plimsoll line on a ship’s hull. Alternatively, just
like the Plimsoll line on a ship, if water got above the line of the rubber sole, the
wearer would get wet. Plimsolls were widely worn by vacationers
and also began to be worn by sportsmen on the tennis and croquet courts for their comfort.
Special soles with engraved patterns to increase the surface grip of the shoe were developed,
and these were ordered in bulk for the use of the British Army. Athletic shoes were increasingly
used for leisure and outdoor activities at the turn of the 20th century – plimsolls were
even found with the ill-fated Scott Antarctic expedition of 1911. Plimsolls were made compulsory
in schools’ physical education lessons in the UK.
British company J.W. Foster and Sons designed and produced the first shoes designed for
running in 1895; the shoes were spiked to allow for greater traction and speed. The
company sold its high-quality handmade running shoes to athletes around the world, eventually
receiving a contract for the manufacture of running shoes for Team GB in the 1924 Summer
Olympics – Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell won the 100-m and 400-m events, kitted out
with Foster’s running gear. This style of footwear also became prominent
in America at the turn of the 20th century, where they were called ‘sneakers’. In 1892,
the U.S. Rubber Company introduced the first rubber-soled shoes in the country, sparking
a surge in demand and production. The first basketball shoes were designed by the Spalding
as early as 1907. The market for sneakers grew after World War I, when sports and athletics
increasingly became a way to demonstrate moral fiber and patriotism. The U.S. market for
sneakers grew steadily as young boys lined up to buy sneakers endorsed by football player
Jim Thorpe and Converse All Stars endorsed by basketball player Chuck Taylor.
During the interwar period, athletic shoes began to be marketed for different sports,
and differentiated designs were made available for men and women. Athletic shoes were used
by competing athletes at the Olympics, helping to popularise athletic shoes among the general
public. In 1936, a French brand, Spring Court, marketed the first canvas tennis shoe featuring
signature eight ventilation channels on a vulcanised natural rubber sole.
Rudolf “Rudi” Dassler began producing his own sports shoes in his mother’s wash kitchen
in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, after his return from World War I, and went on to establish
one of the leading athletic shoe manufacturers, Adidas. He also successfully marketed his
shoes to athletes at the 1936 Summer Olympics, which helped cement his good reputation. Business
boomed and the Dasslers were selling 200,000 pairs of shoes each year before World War
II. During the 1950s, leisure opportunities greatly
expanded, and children and adolescents began to wear sneakers as school dress codes relaxed.
Sneaker sales rose so high, they began to adversely impact on the sales of conventional
leather shoes, leading to a fierce advertising war for market share in the late ’50s. In
the 1970s, jogging for exercise became increasingly popular, and trainers designed specifically
for comfort while jogging sold well. Companies also started to market their products as a
lifestyle choice. Soon, shoes were available for football, jogging, basketball, running,
etc. Every sport had its own shoe, made possible by podiatrist development of athletic shoe
technology. During the 1990s, shoe companies perfected
their fashion and marketing skills. Sports endorsements grew larger, and marketing budgets
went through the roof. Sneakers became a fashion statement and definition of identity and personality
rather than humble athletic aids. Use in sports The term ‘athletic shoes’ is typically used
for running in a marathon or half marathon, basketball, and tennis, but tends to exclude
shoes for sports played on grass such as association football and rugby football, which are generally
known as ‘studs’ or in North America as ‘cleats’. Attributes of an athletic shoe include a flexible
sole, appropriate tread for the function, and ability to absorb impact. As the industry
and designs have expanded, the term “athletic shoes” is based more on the design of the
bottom of the shoe than the aesthetics of the top of the shoe. Today’s designs include
sandals, Mary Janes, and even elevated styles suitable for running, dancing, and jumping.
The shoes themselves are made of flexible compounds, typically featuring a sole made
of dense rubber. While the original design was basic, manufacturers have since tailored
athletic shoes for the different purposes of use. A specific example of this is the
spiked shoe developed for track running. Many of these shoes are made up to a very large
size because of athletes with large feet. Running shoes come in a range of shapes suited
to different running styles/abilities. Generally, they are divided by running style: the majority
are for heel-toe joggers/runners which are further subdivided into ‘neutral’, ‘overpronation’
and ‘underpronation’. These are constructed with a complex structure of “rubber” with
plastic/metal stiffeners to restrict foot movement. More advanced runners tend to wear
flatter and flexible shoes, which allow them to run more quickly with greater comfort.
A variety of specialised shoes are designed for specific uses:
Racing flats Track shoe
Skate shoes Climbing shoe
Approach shoe Wrestling shoes
Cleats Football boot
Dance shoe Types/definitions
High-tops cover the ankles. Low-tops do not cover the ankles.
Mid-cut are in-between high-tops and low-tops. Sneaker boots extend to the calf.
Sneaker collectors ‘Sneakers’ or ‘canvas shoes’ are casual athletic
shoes. Sneaker collectors, called “sneakerheads”,
use sneakers as fashionable items. Casual sneakers such as the Air Force One or Superstar
have become icons in today’s pop culture. Artistically modified sneakers can sell for
more than $500. In more recent years, the classic shoe Nike Dunk has come to the attention
of sneakerheads. During the release of these shoes, people often lined up several hours
before the shops opened, patiently waiting to get the shoes. Artistically modified runners
can sell for up to $500 depending on their popularity. The opening-day cost for these
shoes can range from US$60–300. References Further reading
Smith, Ian. “Do the Shoes Fit?” Time; 0999, Vol. 154 Issue 13, p. 111
Globus, Sheila. “What’s Your Athletic Shoe IQ?” Current Health 2; Sep2002, Vol. 29 Issue
1, p12 External links
BBC Sport — “The history of running shoes” running shoe in the Visual Dictionary at
“2002: A Sneaker Odyssey” “The History of Shoes”
“The painful truth about trainers: Are running shoes a waste of money?”

Tagged : # #

Dennis Veasley

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *