Hip-Hop And Sneakers Go Way Back – But Where Exactly…?

In terms of its influence on urban fashion/style, sneakers have widely become the ultimate status symbol. They are arguably the most sought after fashion accessory in the world at the moment, but why? What is it about “Kicks” that make them so desirable amongst the youth?

Well, most of its popularity can be attributed to the global phenomenon known as Hip-Hop culture. Beyond it being a culture that stems from the artistic expressions of inner-city youth, it has also become a multi-billion dollar industry that has influenced, or at least played a part in, almost every facet of society. In terms of its influence on urban style, sneakers widely became the ultimate status symbol, particularly because of the Adidas brand. They were the perfect shoes for b-boys due to their comfort and colour variations. They became even more popular in 1986 due to the promotion of the brand by Run DMC when they stated:

“My Adidas/walked through concert doors,
and roamed all over coliseum floors,
I stepped on stage, at Live Aid,
All the people gave and the poor got paid,
And out of speakers I did speak,
I wore my sneakers but I’m not a sneak,
My Adidas cuts the sand of a foreign land,
With a mic in hand, I cold took command”

RUN-DMC revolutionised the three-striped Adidas sneaker.The relationship between Hip-Hop and shoe brands would eventually spark a sub-culture, known as the “Sneakerheads.”

The Superstars became a fashion statement that represented the streets and its direct influence coming from the prison system. Inmates in prison were not allowed to wear shoelaces due to the probability of using them for harmful purposes. As a result, when inmates returned to their respective communities, they continued to wear their sneakers without shoelaces. RUN DMC wanted to shy away from looking like superstars and more like the ordinary people the community would see on a daily basis.

Their fashion statement would eventually gain the attention of executives at Adidas. The website Sneaker Freaker mentions “While performing the track ‘My Adidas’ to a packed crowd at Madison Square Garden in NYC, they asked the crowd to hold up their sneakers. Thousands of Adidas Superstar sneakers were raised in unison. An Adidas employee in the crowd informed the company and the subsequent million dollar deal marked a new era of corporate affiliation with hip-hop music.” The relationship between Hip-Hop and shoe brands would eventually spark a sub-culture, known as the “Sneakerheads.”

In simple terms, a ‘Sneakerhead’ is a being who eats, sleep, and breathe sneakers.