Sneakers Unboxed: From Studio to Street is now open at the Design Museum in London, a brand new exhibition exploring one of the most universal and influential fashion items of the 20th and 21st century.
From sneakers originally designed for athletes to their later influence on fashion and culture throughout the globe, Sneakers Unboxed looks into the history and influence of major sneaker brands such as Nike, Adidas, Onitsuka Tiger and, of course, Nike as well as the collaborations with major stars, including Michael Jordan, Run-DMC and Kanye West.
The exhibition also covers some of the latest innovations in sneaker technology and looks towards the future with some of the designers working to make the industry more sustainable such as Stella McCartney, Helen Kirkum and Alex Taylor.
And, of course, no sneaker exhibition would be complete without delving into the growing sneaker resale market, which is currently valued at $6 billion. Sneaker and streetwear marketplace StockX provides visualisations of all this market data and you’ll also find high-fashion takes on a streetwear staple by Balenciaga, Comme des Garcons and Y3.
What to look out for at Sneakers Unboxed
One of the highlights you’ll find at the exhibition is the Adidas YEEZY Boost 350 V2 ‘Zebra’ sneaker. These shoes are the most-traded sneakers of all time on Stock X, with an incredible 100,000 pairs having been sold on the platform. They’ve been restocked several times but their value has still remained 80% higher than their original retail price.
Another must-see is the Converse Big 9, released over a century ago in 1916. The Big 9 was the forerunner of the sneaker that would eventually become the Chuck Taylor All Star. It was made of cotton canvas trimmed with leather and a tough rubber sole, with patented diamond pattern, which reduced skidding for use in basketball and other indoor games.
After the Big 9, Converse released a shoe you definitely know (and have probably worn at some point) – the Converse All Star. Surprisingly, the first edition of the shoes, originally called the ‘Non-Skid’, was released in 1917. In 1934, the name of former professional basketball player Chuck Taylor was added and they remained the most popular basketball shoe until the 1960s. They’ve hardly changed in construction and appearance since.
Almost like something out of a sci-fi movie set in the near future, also on display is Adidas’ FUTURECRAFT.STRUNG robot. Adidas partnered with design studio Kram/Weisshaar to create the robot, which can create a robotically woven upper made to the exact specification of athletes. It is woven from multi-directional threads programmed to the exact requirements of the wearer, incorporating attributes such as their individual stride and foot shape.