The history of sneakers goes back almost two centuries, but they became an object of interest to collectors only about four decades ago.
This type of footwear saw the light of day in the 1830s, when the British Liverpool Rubber Company released simple, practical footwear with rubber soles and a canvas top for beachgoers and called them sand shoes. By the 1870s, the nickname plimsolls appeared (no one knows exactly why).
Plimsolls (or sand shoes) similar to the original made all those years ago are still worn by many. However, the flexible-sole shoes that today’s collectors seek are a world apart from that humble footwear.
It was only the huge popularity of basketball and the emergence of hip-hop culture that gave birth to sneaker collecting in the 1980s in the U.S.A. From there, the hobby spread to other parts of the world, notably Europe and Asia.
Some collectors wear and collect sneakers; some only collect them. In any case, they have a wide variety of choices. Those unassuming plimsolls have evolved into a multitude of footwear specifically designed for different sports, such as basketball or tennis. Running is known for having not one, but several activity-specific shoes that purport to correspond to different running styles or abilities. Some records show that in the U.S.A. alone the number of sport shoe models grew from five in 1970 to 285 in 1998 to 3,371 in 2012… and it keeps growing.
Therefore, if you plan to collect sneakers, you will be somewhat bewildered by choices. In fact, the field is so broad that many collectors specialise in shoes made for a particular sport, for example basketball or skateboarding. Especially popular are basketball players’ signature shoe lines, as well as specific basketball shoe models. Vintage sneakers are also sought-after. However, since they are as a rule in short supply, the only way an average collector can find or afford an early model is when a manufacturers release remakes of their iconic models, as they do from time to time.
If you want to jump on board and become a sneakerhead (nickname for sneaker collectors), a good place to start is bidorbuy. And since sports shoes go under many different names, you need to search bidorbuy thoroughly when looking to start or expand your collection. Here are some of the terms to search for: sneakers, takkies, running shoes, basketball shoes, tennis shoes… Then change your focus and search by brand. Some of the most popular are: Nike, Air Jordan, Reebok, Adidas, Puma, Li-Ning, ASICS, Converse, DC, Kappa, Merrell, Mizuno, New Balance, Onitsuka Tiger, Skechers, Umbro, Vans, and so on.
Well, nobody said that the task of a collector is an easy one… but seeking and finding is half the fun!