Monday, May 27, 2013

Fun Facts About Sneakers!

By Sarah Van Hove, communications intern.

After a short hiatus, we are happy to be back with new and exciting posts that are “all about shoes”. Over the following weeks and months, you can expect interesting and fun facts about shoes, a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the museum, news about upcoming events and so much more!

This time, it’s all about the sneaker, the focus of our newest exhibition. Elizabeth Semmelhack is the Bata Shoe Museum’s Senior Curator and she is the perfect person to tell you everything you need to know about sneakers. 

So let's start things off with some curious and cool facts about sneakers!

Did you know …

… that the word “sneaker” comes from “sneaking around”? Because of the rubber soles you are able to walk around a lot quieter!

… that natural rubber or “caoutchouc” comes from the rubber tree?

… that high-heeled sneakers are nothing new? The first high-heeled sneaker was designed in 1925; there were deep concerns that women’s participation in athletics would detract from their femininity, so heels were added to reinforce their femininity.

… that the Nike Air Force I is one of the best-selling sneakers of all time and it was never advertised?

Collection of Nike Archives. Image © 2013 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada

… that Run-DMC was the first music group ever to get a contract with a sneaker brand? Their deal with adidas became a long-term success story.

… the rising nationalism in the 1930s democratized the sneaker?

… that Adi Dassler, the founder of adidas, took a huge risk when he offered his athletic shoes to Jesse Owens in 1936? At the height of Nazism, a German shoemaker making shoes for an African American athlete from a rival country was a very risky gesture.

… that the Nike Waffle Trainer was invented when Nike founder Bill Bowerman poured rubber into his wife’s waffle-maker?
Collection of Northampton Museums and Art Gallery. Image © 2013 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada

Intriguing, right? You can find out a lot more about sneakers and sneaker culture at the Bata Shoe Museum.

Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture is on display now till March 30, 2014 and a lot of interesting activities and lectures are still coming up. You can find all the information on our website


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