Sneakers are a vast industry and it’s hard to keep up! But, if you’re serious about becoming a real sneakerhead, you need the perfect initiation. Join the open-armed and welcoming community, and you’re set for life. These are the most monumental moments in history that have shaped the industry!
SNEAKERS OVER THE YEARS
|2008 ⇒⇒⇒ 2012 ⇒⇒⇒ 2014 ⇒⇒⇒ 2015 ⇒⇒⇒ 2016 ⇒⇒⇒ 2017 ⇒⇒⇒ 2018 🔽🔽|
So, the best type of initiation to sneakers is a part that’s full of easy knowledge and tons of pictures! We’ve always disliked the conventional system of education – definitely NOT our fault there. Therefore, we’re going to try and make this as fun as possible.
If you want to be a part of the industry, make this your very first stop!
The thing about being a part of this community is knowing all the greatest (and worst) moments in the game. These monumental moments are what shaped the industry and made it was it is today. In other words, if you want to make it in this game and sound like you know what you’re doing… keep reading!
A lot of newbie sneakerheads don’t know that Chuck Taylor did NOT actually invent the Converse basketball sneakers. Even more, it often comes as a surprise that even Chuck Taylor did not invent Chuck Taylors!
However, in 1917, Converse introduced one of the most epic shoes of our time – the All-Star. And then, shortly after in 1921, the American basketball player and salesman Chuck Taylor joined the team. Some of the improvements that he implemented included the ankle patch carrying his name!
Also, this marks one of the very first sneaker collaborations EVER!
Next, another monumental moment that shaped the future of the industry is none other than the infamous Dassler Brothers split! If you don’t know who the Dassler Brothers are, you’re in for a shock!
Rudolf Dassler (Rudi) and Adolf Dassler (Adi) have a story similar to that of Cain and Abel but sans the murder. The German brothers first got their first break in the sneakers industry with their innovation of the spiked shoe. The Dassler Shoe Company become a global and international staple in all households. But, in 1946, that all changed.
In a nutshell, this was all around the end of World War II with the brother facing different serious charges. And then, when the opportunity came, the brothers turned against each other! By 1948, the Dassler brothers decided to go their separate ways. Rudolf started his own shoe company which we now know as Puma and Adolf renamed their company Adidas.
So, why would the founding of a company called Blue Ribbon Sports interest you? Well, this is the founding story of none other than sneaker retail giant, Nike!
The story begins with a Stanford graduate student, Phil Knight, and his field and track team coach, Bill Bowerman. Apparently, Bill had the hankering to tinker! And, the subject of his tinkering happened to be all kinds of different track shoes. According to Nike, Phil Knight was the first student to test-run one of his sneakers. The shoes were such a hit that, reportedly, Otis Davis wore them to win the 400-meter dash Olympics!
In 1962, Phil Knight struck a deal to export Tiger shoes from Japan to the U.S. Bowerman supported Knight and the duo went into a 50-50 deal for ownership of Blue Ribbon Sports!
Another great moment that shaped the industry of sneakers is the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar collaboration. Kareem was a superstar just emerging from NYC’s Power Memorial as one of the best high school basketball players in our nation. He went on to win three NCAA championships at UCLA.
Also, he was the reason why NCAA BANNED dunking!
His first draft was with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1969 where he became an instant NBA superstar! So much so that he scored 29 points in his very first game and won the title of Rookie of the Year! And so, this was just enough for Adidas to give him his very own (and first ever) signature sneaker. And thus, paving the for more signature sneakers to come!
Also, if you really want to fit in, you have to be able to geek out on sneakers on TV! Spotting your favorite kicks on your favorite actor in a TV show or movie is the coolest! But, do you know how that even started?
So, the greatest and most epic moment for sneakers on the big screen is in “Game of Death”. This is a movie about a renowned martial arts master, played by Bruce Lee, who fakes his own death for revenge.
One of the most awesome scenes in the movie is definitely the fight scene between Bruce Lee and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar! But, the real MVP of this picture had to be the black and yellow Onitsuka trainers Bruce Lee had on!
Note: Bruce Lee’s untimely death left the movie on hold. But, later on, they enlisted the director of “Enter the Dragon”, Robert Clouse, to finish the movie using two stand-ins. It released in 1978, five years after Bruce Lee’s death.
NIKE NAME CHANGE
Later that same year, we had another monumental moment for sneakers!
Back in 1972, the Nike name and the Nike Swoosh started to pop up on the Blue Ribbons Sports sneakers.
However, Blue Ribbons Sports did not officially change its name to Nike until the year 1978. If you’re wondering why it took them 6 years to change the name, it’s reportedly because of Phil Knight.
Apparently, the man held out hope that they’d go for the name he suggested – Dimension Six… thank god that didn’t happen.
This is one of our favorite facts about sneakers: did you know that Michael Jordan first planned to sign with Adidas and not Nike? Could you imagine how that would have gone?
No Air Jordans! Yikes!
Well, the thing is, Michael Jordan loved wearing Adidas sneakers all through high school in North Carolina. He also apparently wore Converse sneakers as well. So, it was only natural that he wished to be with Adidas when he played basketball for the pros.
But, obviously, Nike splurged on the better deal, and in 1984, Michael Jordan signed with Nike! And, Air Jordan was born!
And then, just a year later Nike acquired one of the greatest minds that changed sneakers forever – Tinker Hatfield. But, this sneaker designer has a less-than-conventional story to his employment.
So, apparently, Nike hired Tinker Hatfield as a corporate architect in 1981. But, Tinker already had a taste and love for athletic sneakers. You see, Tinker Hatfield was a successful track athlete at Oregon with Bill Bowerman. Therefore, a love of sneakers came naturally to him.
And so, in 1985, Tinker Hatfield switched from designing buildings to designing sneakers instead! But, he definitely brought in his architectural training into the design and sneaker technology!
Fun Fact: rumor has it that Tinker Hatfield’s design of the Air Jordan 3 is what kept MJ going strong with Nike! After Peter Moore’s failed attempt to turn his Checks into Stripes!
AIR JORDAN 1 RELEASE
And, later that very same year, the first Air Jordan 1 made its debut! Nike designed the Air Jordan on September 15th, 1984, and MJ wore it through his pre-season game.
But, the actual release didn’t happen until a month later! In fact, most of the time during MJ’s rookie season, Jordan wore the Nike Air Ship. This takes us back to the whole BANNED Air Jordan story with Nike paying $5,000 per game so MJ could continue wearing the Jordans.
Now, were they Jordans or Air Ships, we might never really know!
If you don’t remember Run DMC’s song, “My Adidas” then you’re way too young! If you like songs about shoes, then you should know about the song that started it all!
Believe it or not, when they released this single, they didn’t have a sneaker deal yet!
But, they definitely did after that! So, if you want a sweet deal, the right songs about your favorite sneakers!
On the other hand, one of the darkest moments for sneakers is the murder of Michael Eugene Thomas. In 1989, people were getting robbed and even killed for their sneakers. However, at the time, the media didn’t pay as much attention to it as it deserved.
And so, in 1990, Sports Illustrated covered the murder in their May 14 issue. Its cover featured a gun and an illustration of a pair of Air Jordan 5s. It was titled:
“Your sneakers or your life”
Sadly this was not the last time a person was murdered for their sneakers. But, we sure hope that after surviving a pandemic, humanity will be better!
But, another story run in The Issue Magazine brought much more positive vibes into the industry. In fact, public love for sneakers and the culture could be traced back to Bebbito’s “Confessions of a Sneaker Addict”. Some might even go to the lengths and say that Bebbito predicted the future of the sneaker industry with this article.
If you do get to read it, you’ll notice one very strange thing about it: most of our sneaker slang does not exist in it! And that’s because this was around the time the culture was just being born!
The effects that this article had was monumental! And so, it is imperative that every sneakerhead knows about this moment in history!
Next up, you’re not going to be a sneakerhead in the industry without understanding the history of retro Jordans. Retro Air Jordans are the epitome of epic sneakers – the bread and butter of resellers everywhere. So, what is a retro and how did retros start?
Although we don’t know exactly when the first retro dropped, we do know for sure that it was in 1994. Why are we sure? Because that’s the year that Michael Jordan took his first retirement. Yep, a retirement.
But, the worst thing about these sneakers is not that MJ was in retirement when they dropped. It’s that people did not know that they were SLEEPING on legit gems! People did not care about retro Jordans at the time. And so, these kicks sat on the shelves until they were literally “clearanced” off the racks for as little as $20 per pair.
People in the 90s were TRIPPING… But, those who did cop at that time are probably sitting on a heap of cash right now.
And then, there’s the founding of the leading online auction website, eBay. Now, we know what you’re wondering: what the hell does eBay have to do with sneakers?
Well, before eBay, sneaker reselling was confined to garage sales and diving into dusty basements in search of gems. That’s the only way that you could find deadstock sneakers. However, with eBay, all of that changed. Suddenly, sneakerheads had an outlet to buy and sell sneakers – in any condition – to and from people everywhere. The possibilities were endless! So, you can only imagine how revolutionary this time was for sneakerheads everywhere. Plus, it’s eBay!
So, the split between Jordan and Nike is definitely one of those moments that really shaped the future of sneakers. Now, this might sound a bit harsh and even surprising. But, this was a long time coming.
If you didn’t already know, the Jordan Brand is a brand of its own.
Michael Jordan’s sports agent, David Falk, always envisioned a Jordan brand for MJ ever since he signed with Nike. So basically, that was always the end goal for the brand. Although the Jordan Brand is still technically under the Nike umbrella, the brand does operate on its own.
This is where the Jumpman logo started to make an appearance in place of the Nike Air logo.
And, by the year 1997, Michael Jordan had come back from retirement and we had retros everywhere. Therefore, to fully launch, announce, and celebrate the new brand, they came out with a new Jordan box: a silver box with the Jumpman on top for the Air Jordan XIII release!
There was a time when sneakerheads were confined to chat rooms, e-mails, and Craigslist-like message board websites. If you wanted to discuss your love for sneakers online, you couldn’t do it properly. Not until NikeTalk!
So, NikeTalk is like Reddit for sneakers. It is an outlet for online forums that bring people together like a crowdsourced blog. In 1999, NikeTalk opened and it instantly became THE place for sneaker discussion. People could flex and share sneak peeks of all their latest cops.
The big 00s! Sneakerheads have made it to the 2000s with big prospects in our future. And, to further cement the magnitude of the industry, we had our very first print magazine fully dedicated to sneakers. In 2002, the first edition of Sneaker Freaker came out.
A magazine all about sneakers and the love of kicks?
And with the age of the internet upon us, the game was slowly shifting online. We adapt, we always do!
Sneaker Freaker opened the path of the future and was the initial catalyst behind today’s best sneaker blogs!
Although the industry, community, and culture were slowly and steadily growing, Kanye West put everything at double speed!
In 2008, Kanye West debuted a very unique-looking sneaker on the night of the 50th Grammy Awards. It was a black high-top, with ski straps, and a Nike Swoosh.
Kanye’s performance that night was definitely epic. But, we had our eyes on his FEET most of the time! It was an UNSEEN pair of Nike Air Yeezys – the first-ever Yeezys on the game!
He later dropped the very first release with Nike in 2009 featuring three colorways of the Nike Air Yeezy I: Blink, Zen Grey, and Tan.
Note: this was the same year of Kanye’s most infamous VMAs explosive scandal. Probably when the Swoosh started rethinking their partnership.
Now, we’re definitely click-baiting you here because Nike did not “technically” invest in our beloved shoe bots. But, believe it or not, they unknowingly and accidentally instigated the creation of shoe bots!
It goes back to the year 2012 when Nike was pulling what they thought was a clever release. This was the first time that Nike decides to shake things up with a release via Twitter DMs: the first come, first served (FCFS) method. For sneakerheads, this translated to: inhuman speed, aka sneaker bots!
The mark of an epic sneaker reseller is their sneaker bot. Click on the button below to learn more about sneaker bots and botting. Only for serious sneakerheads, and not amateurs.
RELEASE OF NIKE AIR YEEZY II
That same year, we had yet another epic release from the Swoosh x Kanye West duo. But, what we did not know at the time is that this was going to be their final official release. The Nike Air Yeezy II in Pure Platinum and Solar Red dropped both dropped in 2012 leaving one last release.
But, then it was radio silence for the legendary Red Octobers – so much so that we thought it won’t drop.
However, it did drop, in the most unconventional way ever. Near the end of 2013, Nike dropped the Red Octobers in a surprise release via Twitter limited to 5,000 pairs. It sold out in 10 minutes.
Get the full Nike x Kanye West backstory here!
Although the surprise drop was a shock, it was an even more groundbreaking surprise to see Kanye with Adidas. In 2014, it was announced that Kanye West will officially join the Three Stripes family. He was looking at an agreement that gave him 15% royalties and full creative control of the sneakers.
And so, Adidas x Yeezy was born!
Little did they know that this very partnership was going to cost Adidas around $650 MILLION in losses in 2022!
This was arguably one of the most controversial times for sneakers! In 2015, PUMA signed with none other than Queen herself, pop superstar Rihanna. This partnership led to the creation of the Creeper silhouette which was unsurprisingly an INSTANT success. A design that forever changed the outlook and future of the modern sneaker landscape.
Platform kicks? Who would have thought?
Bad Gal RiRi changed the game, especially for female sneakerheads. The representation that she brought with her was unmatched. It wasn’t all about the stereotypical-looking “girl shoes” anymore.
FIRST ADIDAS YEEZY RELEASE
This was also the same year that Adidas x Yeezy launched their collaboration. And, how else would Ye choose to debut a new release? Well, he wore them to the 2015 Grammys ceremony… again!
These sneakers were none other than the Adidas Yeezy Boost 750s.
He wore a Juicy Couture-esque maroon-colored tracksuit with the Light Brown Adidas Yeezy Boost 750.
These boot-type sneakers dropped over NBA All-Star Weekend for a retail price of $350. They currently are reselling on StockX for $1,938.
NIKE INTRODUCES THE SNKRS APP
Also, that very same year Nike decided they wanted to do something HUGE too. And so, they came out with the Nike SNKRS App for the Swoosh’s weekly drops and exclusive perks. This was definitely the reason for more and more sneaker apps to come out. And, in all honesty, sneakerheads were not all that excited about it.
Now, in 2016 things start to get a lot more exciting. With Kanye West feeding into the exclusive, limited-sneakers culture, there was a need for an outlet. And so, StockX was founded!
The founders wanted to create a platform for sneaker resellers, a marketplace. They offered authentication checks and worked like a middleman between resellers and sneakerheads. Around the same time, more sneaker reselling platforms came into existence, including:
- Flight Club
- Stadium Goods
- And more!
The sneaker reselling industry was a GIANT industry moving at lightning speed with no intention of ever slowing down. And so, it wasn’t about just collecting sneakers anymore. Sneaker reselling became an official business for resellers globally with people making INSANE cash! This was, hands-down, the most lucrative money-making hobby!
In 2017, Travis Scott had the opportunity to work with Helmut Lang in a collaboration on two sneakers. They were two very premium and sleek-looking kicks that obviously caught the attention of Nike. And so, later that same year he got to work with the Swoosh – specifically, the Jordan Brand.
And, guess what the first silhouette La Flame wanted to work on?
Not an Air Jordan 1 like we would have picked! No, he wanted something a little more unconventional. Well, he picked the Jordan Trunner LX as the model of choice for his very first collab sneaker with Jordan.
But, this was just the beginning. Travis’ partnership with Nike proved to be one of the greatest of all time, to this day! And, his kicks were just as (if not more) exclusive and hyped as Kanye’s Yeezys!
OFF-WHITE x NIKE
Plus, another major collaboration for Nike in 2017 was the Off-White x Nike collab with Virgil Abloh! It was one of the biggest events to hit the industry. And, it’s safe to say we were never the same after it.
“The Ten” sneaker collection by the duo was a HUGE event in the game with all new takes on classics. Virgil redefined the sneaker culture by bringing luxury fashion and streetwear together. It was one of the most unforgettable moments in sneakers’ history!
Nike veteran Sandy Bodecker passed away in 2018 after working with Nike for 36 years. Bodecker was named VP of Special Projects in 2012 where he reworked models like the Dunk and Nike Blazer. He also worked with other brands including Supreme, Antihero, and Zoo York.
Bodecker started as a wear-test coordinator. But, his great passion and love for sneakers helped him scale up into a general manager at Nike.
He is one of the greatest developers of sneaker culture. And so, he is someone you should know about and never forget!
CHECKS OVER STRIPES
“Jesus Christ (yeah), checks over stripes (yeah)
That’s what I like (yeah), that’s what we like (yeah)”
– SICKO MODE
Travis Scott ft. Drake
If you were Keeping Up with the Kardashians at that time, things were DEF awkward.
Then, there’s the year 2019, which was a rollercoaster of events! We’re going to start it out with one of the worst (and kinda funniest) moments in basketball history. So, at this point, Nike had been sponsoring Duke’s basketball team since 1993. And, in February 2019, Nike was given the chance to dress a rising superstar in the Swoosh footwear as well.
He was under the spotlight, especially since in No. 1 overall in June’s NBA draft against their arch-nemesis, North Carolina. In the first minute of the game, unfortunately, Zion Williamson had to leave the game with a knee injury. Why? Because his sneakers exploded!
Williamson, the 285-pound forward put all his weight on his left foot and his shoe just exploded. On national television. What was he wearing? A pair of Nike PG 2.5 PE.
- Selena Gomez for PUMA
- Kendrick Lamar for Nike
- The Weeknd for PUMA
- Gucci Mane for Reebok
- Kendall Jenner for Adidas
- And more!
And then, there’s YEEZY DAY. The year 2019 was the year of the very first Yeezy Day event, EVER. Now, this moment in history will prove to be very important later on. So, make sure you keep this in mind.
Yeezy Day, or Yeezy Restock Day, is a massive event with the goal to fulfill the Yeezy prophecy. Kanye wanted everyone in the world to own a pair of Yeezys, which he did. However, this particular event will contribute to the downfall of the partnership later on!
Despite trying to survive a global pandemic in 2020, things had to get even worse. The year 2020 included one of the worst and most tragic events in history: the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.
The retired NBA star died in a car crash near Calabasas, California. He and his daughter were among the 9 people dead in the crash.
His sneakers are now amongst the most legendary of all. Read more about the tragic crash here.
YEAR OF THE DUNK
But, since we have to keep you completely in the loop, you should know about “The Year of the Dunk”. Although that sounds like a Chinese New Year thing, it’s more of a phenomenon describing the year 2020.
So, if you hear “Year of the Dunk”, know that it’s the year 2020. The year when Nike oversaturated the market with Nike Dunks and somehow came out alive. Every time we thought this was the Dunks’ final frontier, the Swoosh proved us wrong!
After the year 2020, it felt like it was all downhill. And that was proven with the loss of yet another legend of the sneakers industry. The death of Virgil Abloh in November came as a worldwide shock to us all. However, his life and work remain everlasting in the hearts of sneakerheads globally.
If you don’t know who he is, which is doubtful; Virgil Abloh is the founder of the legendary streetwear brand: Off-White. And, he was the artistic director of menswear for Louis Vuitton. But also, he worked with Nike in the Off-White x Nike collaboration on some of the most epic sneakers of our time!
The Virgil Abloh shoes are one of the most influential kicks in history!
FESTIVAL FROM HELL
Next, there’s the festival from hell, Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD festival which ended up being a cemetery for countless victims. The festival at NRG Park in Houston, Texas on November 5th, 2021 was a tragedy. What was meant to be a raging party, took the life of 10 people aged 9 to 27 years?
Of course, the worst part of it all was how Travis handled it all.
And so, for a while in 2021, people urged to boycott the Nike x Travis Scott partnership. His Nike Air Trainer 1 was just around the corner and Nike put the release on halt. The entire partnership was at stake.
KIM & KANYE’S DIVORCE
And then there was Kim and Kanye’s 4-billion-dollar divorce! This was something that we never expected to happen, but it did. This later resulted in the whole Kim x Pete Davidson and Kanye x Julia Fox era. The era of:
“Yeah. A little. I mean, I was Josh Safdie’s muse when he wrote Uncut Gems, you know?”
But, the only good thing that came out of this year was the brands’ move to sustainable sneakers and ethical fashion. The biggest brands supporting the change were none other than the giants of the industry, Nike and Adidas. Read more about it here.
The year 2022 is when shit really hit the fan. We’re gonna start off with Adidas ending the Yeezy partnership for good. This is a break that cost Adidas €250 Million in net income but saved them the 15% royalties.
In our opinion, Ye was a ticking timebomb waiting to explode.
All the signs were pointing towards a near end. The final straw for Adidas was Ye’s anti-semitic comments on Twitter. And after that, Yeezy was no more. Read our in-depth breakdown of the events leading up to the break – including Yeezy Day – here.
After that, everything was in limbo and people were wondering:
- Will there ever be another Yeezy drop?
- Should we resell our Yeezy sneakers?
- What’s going to happen to the Yeezy resale value?
- And finally, are Yeezys dead?
NIKE DROPS KYRIE IRVING
And the chain reaction began! Just barely a month later, Nike suspended Kyrie Irving for THE SAME REASON! Get all the details here!
PETER MOORE PASSES AWAY
To make matters worse, the year 2022 resulted in yet another loss of a sneakers legend. Peter Moore was part of the Nike executives that worked with Michael Jordan. And, he was also the man behind the Mountain logo with Adidas.
Talk about checks and stripes!
NFTs & DIGITAL SNEAKERS
But, despite all the bad things that happened in 2022, there was still some light at the end of the tunnel. It just happened to be a virtual tunnel with the rise of non-fungible tokens. This is the digital era and it’s time we join in as an industry.
Therefore, we suggest that you join our FREE hub of NFT knowledge to become a connoisseur yourself. All it takes is a step!
Click here to join!
ZADEH KICKS & FAKE SNEAKERS SCANDAL
However, despite all the rising success in other industries, there are sneaker scandals. Starting with the Zadeh Kicks shut down with MILLIONS of dollar worth of sneakerhead money GONE! All the way to StockX’s authentication scandal.
StockX got caught in a sneakerhead’s worst nightmare – the possibility of fake sneakers! And so, the trend of legit checks came back with people wondering if their kicks are fake! Especially fake Air Jordans. And so, people started to resort to eBay authentication services more than StockX.
Who do you think is better, eBay or StockX?
POIZON SNEAKER MARKETPLACE
Finally, the last thing worth mentioning in 2022 was the rise of the Chinese market for sneakers. The rise in sneaker culture globally created a demand for different resale marketplaces. And so, POIZON began to rise. The Chinese marketplace for sneakers might just become a hub for sneakerheads to compete with the giants!
So, now you’re all caught up on everything sneakers. You’re a real master! All that’s left is staying on top of things and in the loop. This is an industry that is always changing, evolving, and adapting to the environment!
One of the biggest reasons why this is the most profitable industry out there!
And so, to keep up with news like: Kanye’s recent marriage, or Jayson Tatum’s new signature sneaker, OR Eatsbay shutting down, OR even Supreme’s switch to Shopify… you have to follow us! NOTE: all of this happened in January of 2023, just one month into the year. So, if you don’t follow us, you won’t be able to keep up!