The Huddle

Just for Kicks

Posted: 03-19-2012 | Categories: Parents & Students

Tennis shoes.  Sneakers.  Athletic footwear.  Kicks.  Your fancy footwear has a lot of nick names, but have you ever stopped and wondered how those Jordans or Nikes landed on your growing feet?  No, we’re not talking about what country they were made in, but where did the idea of a shoe for athletes come from?

It all started back in the 1800s during the Industrial Revolution!  Before then, every shoe was made by hand, but when assembly lines and new materials like rubber became available, shoes became a hot commodity.  Can you imagine going to the shoe store back then?  Today, you walk in and they ask if you want high tops, a running shoe, a walking shoe, or a shoe just for style.  Back then, you got a basic shoe most likely made out of wood that would pinch your toes!

During the early 1800s, the first inexpensive rubber-soled shoe called plimsolls was manufactured in England.  Later, in 1892, Goodyear began making rubber and canvas shoes under the name Keds.  Today, Goodyear is a lead manufacturer for rubber tires.  By 1908, Marquis Converse had established the Converse Shoe Company making shoes specifically for athletes and changing the game of basketball forever.  His Converse shoes have become an American icon!  Converse would update their shoe style and make it more comfortable for athletes playing tennis in 1935.  It was around this time these tennis shoes became a symbol of the “bad boy” crowd.  So rebellious!

In 1917, Keds shoes become the first mass-marketed athletic shoe in the United States.  Not to be outdone by the Americans, German shoemaker Adi Dassler began making training shoes in his mom’s basement that would eventually become the famous shoe company Adidas.  In the 1950s, with the help of James Dean, sneakers became the symbol for rebellious teenagers around the world!
Today, sneakers, kicks, tennis shoes, whatever you want to call your footgear is a billion dollar industry!  Who would’ve thought a little rubber, a few stitches, and some string could turn into billions of dollars and a history lesson for you today!

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