Sneakers: The Foundation of Streetwear

Written by Jess Bond

Photos by Felton Kizer

Sneakers by Perry Co.

Sneakers by Perry Co.

Regardless of the decade, streetwear has been defined as the clothes of the youth. Streetwear is the epitome of coolness and rebellion, and one of the most well known streetwear pieces are sneakers. Since the 1980s, when the first Air Jordans were manufactured, Air Jordans have become a staple for sneakerheads all over the country. Even though, Michael Jordan played his last game over 20 years ago, his legacy in the sneaker industry continues to live on. From camping out for hours on end for the latest release, Air Jordans will always hold a place in a sneakerhead’s heart. 

Although Air Jordans may be seen as the “bread and butter” for sneakerheads,most recently the sneaker industry has been evolving to incorporate new designs for today’s generation. Adidas recent collaboration with Kanye West, creating “Yeezys” infiltrated the sneaker industry and showed that not just sneakerheads want the latest sneaker. 

Since Kanye West debuted his collaboration with Adidas, high fashion brands have started to dabble in sneakers, due to the high demand of streetwear pieces. Balenciaga, for example, has reinvented the infamous dad sneakers into one the most well known and fashionable sneakers out today. Creating the “Speed Trainers” and “Triple S Trainers” are not your average trainers. Available in interesting colors and designs, the designers behind this high fashion brands understand what the youth of today are looking for in their clothing. It shows that rebellion can be turned into high fashion and that they are the present and the future of the industry. 

From Air Jordans to Balenciaga’s chunky dad sneakers, the sneaker industry is constantly evolving due to millennials and generation z’s demand for athleisure and streetwear. Streetwear defines these generations because they thrive off of rebellion and nonconformity. It shows that rebellion can be turned into high fashion and that they are the present and the future of the industry. 

July 27th & 28th we’ll explore sneaker culture at our weekend exhibition Museum of Streetwear in Chicago. For information and tickets click here.


Amanda Harth