Looking at Sneakers One Shoe at a Time
by STEPHANIE TANG
Sneakers have evolved throughout the past century, appealing to a wider range of consumers and becoming a staple in footwear in our society.
The term “sneaker” was coined by Henry Nelson McKinney in 1917 because the rubber sole of the shoe allowed wearers to be stealthy and quiet. However, the first reference to “sneakers” can be traced back as early as an 1887 reference in the Boston Journal.
The first rubber-soled shoes, called plimsolls, were developed and manufactured in the U.S. during the late nineteenth century. These shoes were used by tourists and athletes in sports such as tennis and croquet.
However, plimsolls were considered unrefined and the shoes had neither right nor left foot distinction, causing discomfort for people wearing them.
In 1892, the U.S. Rubber Company came up with a more comfortable rubber-soled sneaker with a canvas top, later called “Keds.” The name for the shoe originated from the Latin word “ped” meaning “foot.”
By 1917, the first sneaker went into mass production as a result of high demand from the public.
Many people go as far as collecting sneakers. These fanatics are called “sneakerheads.” Depending on the brand and popularity, people may pay up to $500 for a pair of newly released sneakers.
The development and improvement of sneakers has progressed over the years; despite all of the changes made to the footwear, sneakers continue to be a major part of daily life.