Since the uprising of athleisure, sneakers are gaining ground in and outside of the fashionscene. And according to a recent study, sneaker sales have increased while the sale of high heels tumbled – especially in the category 3inch and up. When brands like Chanel started to embrace this trend it was a clear signal that the fashion industry was ready to give the sneaker its stamp of approval. Women are increasingly choosing comfort and with so many high end and fashionable alternatives on the market, what’s not to like? At The Restory atelier, we see the influx of sneakers every day, so what makes sneakers so unique and why are we so obsessed with them?
The best sneaker anecdote is probably from Converse who sponsored basketball player Chuck Taylor during a game and solidified the All-Star as the best selling shoe of all time. Or the the tale of two brothers who went head to head on their quest to rule the sneaker world, namely Adidas and Puma. Adidas tennis shoes are one of the most iconic shoes in the sneaker game and our case study tackles all there is to know on how to keep your Stan Smiths clean. Fun fact: Bill Bowerman from Nike used his wife’s waffle iron to create the ‘Waffle Tread’ sole of the first ever shoe designed by Nike- talk about getting creative.
A quick timeline: the discovery of vulcanized rubber by Charles Goodyear in 1880’s paved the way for the first ever rubber-soled shoe, also called the Plimsoll. Due to this invention, the first ever mass-produced sneakers -Keds- were introduced to the market in 1917. The name ‘sneakers’ actually comes from the fact that the silent soles made it possible to sneak up on someone.. However, it was not until 1950’s that people started to wear sneakers as fashion statements. And by 1984, the sales of sneakers skyrocketed when Michael Jordan signed with Nike and launched his Air Jordans, which brought new techniques and innovations to how sneakers were made.
The two major steps in making a sneaker are design and production, sometimes requiring 18-month lead times to develop a new model. The design process starts with a sketch and a pattern. Then specs are created with multiple samples as a new prototype is needed each time an alteration is made. The material is prepared in production as the rubber gets pressed and the sneaker goes into the stitching and assembly phase before it’s shipped to its final destination. The current model of manufacturing a sneaker is therefore quite labour intensive. Because a sneaker has many components as well as the brand specific characteristics, it can only be made at a certain assembly factory employed by the brand. Thus, when the rubber sole of the sneaker eventually wears down it’s almost impossible to create a replica that can replace the original.
The Restory offers special cleaning services to keep your sneakers in tip top condition or a colour touch up for those very well loved pieces you just can’t stop wearing. And luckily for all you sneakerheads, we now also offer a drop off service at the Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge store to refresh this season’s Balenciaga’s or drop off your oldie but goodie while shopping for a new favourite.