Despite rumours that the first sneaker was forged from molten lava, three cows and the blood of two virgins by the hands of god himself there is in fact plenty of evidence to suggest a different story.
Get to know the famous players you have to thank for your fresh crepes and read about some of the feuds and interesting facts.
1830-1892 - A Revolution in Footwear
The story begins in the 1830's when the Liverpool Rubber Company created the very first Plimsole initially as beachwear and named sand shoes, this was the first shoe with a rubber flexible bottom and a canvas upper.
In the late 18th Century Plimsoles were still pretty rudimentary and crude without a left and right foot that could be distinguished, basically both were identically shaped. Then around 1892 the U.S Rubber Company came up with a more modernized and comfortable design also using rubber for the sole and canvas for the tops which became the very first sneaker called Keds.
It is debatable exactly which was first coined the sneaker considering the term sneaker has evidence of existence before 1892.
1877-1917 - The Name
It took until around 1917 when this type of shoe had began to be mass produced that the style got it's name of sneakers. This name was given to them because compared with old fashioned shoes were made from all sorts of solid and heavy materials you could literally sneak up on someone wearing these new sneakers.
The term is often attributed to the American advertising agent Nelson McKinney who in 1917 used the term to describe them due to being stealthy though the term had been in use since as early as 1887.
1906 - New Balance
New Balance was launched in 1906 in Boston Massachusetts by William J. Riley a British immigrant new to America and named the "New Balance Arch Support Company" and would initially focus on insoles for improved comfort and support.
New Balance will go on to be a sneaker brand that does things differently, keeping its manufacturing in the USA and the UK for the European market while all other major retailers have outsourced to Asia. A great tribute to manufacturing and enterprise owing to the roots of the original founder William J Riley being a British man who left for the new world and landed in America in 1906. He would be a proud man to know the two countries dearest to his heart were still making his products today.
1917 - Marquis Mills / Converse
Also in 1917 Marquis Converse entered the fold producing the first shoe made purely for basketball called the Converse All-Stars, the now famous Converse have a rich history in sneaker folklore. 1923 saw Chuck Taylor the famous Indiana hoops star endorse the Converse sneaker which then adopted the name Chuck Taylor All-Stars and have gone on to be the best selling basketball footwear of all time.
1920s - Global Exposure
In 1924 sneakers hit the international scene after a German man by the name of Adolf "Adi" Dassler designed his own athletic style shoes / sneakers, yes that is the birth of the Adidas sneaker another of the market leaders that still dominate today. However at the time the company wasn't Adidas and was a company ran with his brother Rudi.
In 1948 the company was split due to a bitter family feud. The company was split into two, Adolf named his Adidas a mix of his first and last names while Rudolf "Rudi" Dassler attempted a similar approach originally calling his Ruda though eventually changed it to Puma. Their sneakers were endorsed by Jessie Owens as he won 4 gold medals at the Olympics as well as many other successful athletes. Adidas went on become the best selling athletic shoe brand in history.
1938 New Balance - First Sneaker
New Balance released it's first pair of sneakers in 1938 after 32 years of success and surviving the great depression with their comfortable inserts. the first shoe was a running shoe made with a crepe sole and a black kangaroo leather upper / vamp.
1949 - Asics
In 1949 Kihachiro Onitsuka founded Asics to as an athletic equipment company and manufacturer of basketball shoes from his home town of Kobe, Japan. The brand's name is an acronym for 'anima sana in corpore sano' which literally means 'healthy soul in a healthy body. In the companies infancy it was also known as Onitsuka Tiger a combination of his last name and presumably a powerful and lucky animal.
1950s - Beyond Sports
In the first half of the 20th century sneakers and other sports style shoes were mostly only worn to play sports or take part in athletics however in the 1950s they became a fashion statement spearheaded by the youth of the time and even celebrities such as James Dean in the movie 'Rebel Without a Cause'.
Another factor was that school dress codes were relaxed in America leading to more young people wearing trainers to school. In fact sales of trainers rose so high in the 50s that traditional leather shoe sales plummeted leading to a heated advertising war between the two sub industries.
1966 - Vans
1972 - Nike
While Nike was originally formed on a handshake between Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman in 1964 and named Blue Ribbon Sports in Oregan it was renamed Nike in 1971 by employee Jeff Johnson after the Greek goddess of victory. Caroline Davidson who was a friend of Phil's from college designed the famous tick known as the Nike Swoosh.
1978 - Reebok
Reebok entered the game in 1978 founded by Paul Fireman at an international trade show. Within three years the brand hit the market and grossed over 1.5 million US Dollars. Reebok was innovating a year later in 1982 when they introduced the first athletic sneaker designed for women named the Freestyle which is still their best selling shoe to date.
Reebok also created DMX and Hexalite technology in addition to the famous pump button everyone remembers. Reebok also released the S Carter in collaboration with Jay-Z in the 90s.
In 1984 Nike signed a deal with Michael Jordan that would change sneaker history forever as they launched the most famous trainer of all time the Air Jordans. 10 years later as Jordan retires the Air Jordans continued to be a best seller and still do to this day over 30 years after it's launch.
1990s - Innovation
Over the next 20 years all of the leading sportswear brands such as Nike, Reebok and Adidas have been competing in the world of design and innovation.
The race to design the perfect kicks has manifested itself in the form of crazy color schemes and materials as well as laceless footwear and creating purpose build sneakers for various sporting activities from football, walking and hiking to skating and other types of running shoe.
Nike innovated by using pockets of gas for better cushioning in their signature Air Force series, Reebok are famed for the pump ball on the tongue that helped to get a more snug fit.
Innovation was also seen in the marketing and sneaker culture as people began to see sneakers as part of their identity and as pieces of art.
2002 - Creative Recreation
Creative Recreation were founded in 2002 in Los Angeles by two former Vans Robert Nand and Richard Confinco to add some originality and creativity into the sneaker scene after feeling restricted in their previous ecosystem.
Creative Recreation or Cr8Rec have gathered a large and loyal following of footwear aficionados over the decade since their first releases.
2006 - Supra
Angel Cabada founded Supra in 2006 proving there is still room in the sneaker space for new innovative designers. Supra instantly got to creating sneakers for skaters with interesting and unique colorways and innovating in design features and releasing beautiful high tops. This gained attention from a celebrity following featuring celebrities such as Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake and Lil Wayne to name a few. Their signature "SkyTop" high top sneakers are their most popular to date.
2009 - Adidas X Puma Feud
The Adidas vs Puma feud that had been going for 60 years was finally put to an end in 2009 when employees from both companies (formerly one company) symbolized peace by playing a friendly match of football (soccer). By this point both Adolf and Rudolf Dassler had passed away which they did so within 4 years of one another and lived to nearly the same age at 77 and 76 respectively. The brothers are buried at opposite ends in the same cemetery as far apart as could be arranged. A bitter suite ending to one of the biggest feuds in the history of sneakers.
In the current decade we have seen even more innovation and development in the world of sneakers. We have seen even more abstract materials and mesh like textures appearing on our trainers. We now have sock style sneakers which feel lighter than air and 3D printers creating all sorts of dope accessories for your sneakers and no doubt pushing even more innovation on the part of the major players of the day Adidas, Nike, Converse, Asics, Vans etc. Classics such as Nike Huarache have been re released in a whole range of styles and colorways and Kanye West is creating the most fuss in the world of brand collaborations with his Yeezy Boosts.
What's next I hear you ask? We now live in a world of sneaker collectors that are instagram famous and some individual shoes selling on the online marketplaces from $1000 to more than $8,000. We live in a world where people use computer bots to try and snag the latest kicks before anyone else and in some cases as many pairs as possible to resell for an increased price. We live in a world of Yeezies and all sorts of futuristic sneaker options to choose from.
What do you want to see next in the evolution of the sneaker?