By: Kyndell Mizell
I experienced a small part of sneaker heaven last Sunday at the High Museum in Atlanta, Georgia. It was the closing day of the sole-full exhibit “The Rise of the Sneaker Culture.” The only thing that made the exhibit that much better was that it was free! (Due to one of many free promotions the High Museum runs each month.) Lines filled the room while sneaker-heads of mixed races and genders looked in awe at over a thousand different sneakers. Every shoe was neatly placed in a protective glass case with a small description of the shoe.
There were many other iconic models and tons of brands including Puma, Reebok, KangaRoos, Saucony, PONY, Vans, PF Flyers, Supra, even high end fashion shoes like Gucci and Christian Louboutin. One of the most popular sections of course was the Jordan portion. There was a complete set of the retro Jordan’s in complete order showing some of the best colorways for each style.
The first shoe that caught my eye was a shoe that was shown to the public back in 2015 by Adidas. It is made out of recycled ocean waste to complete the upper and the new iconic boost technology also seen in the ultraboost model and the Yeezyboost collection. This shoe was also my favorite pair and most unexpected pair to see.
There were some models that were hideous like the Nike x Tom Sachs NikeCraft Lunar Underboot Aeroply Experimentation Research Boot which was a prototype created on a white blank boot canvas and designed with a black sharpie. [Photo Courtesy American Federation of Arts] Or, like one of my all-time most hated silhouette the Ewings which are just big and bulky.
The descriptions for each shoe told a significant story and the reason why the shoe was ultimately on display. We were able to learn things like how Adidas got its name from the creator’s actual name Adolf “Adi” Dassler, and what PONY stood for Product of New York, and the fines that Michael Jordan received for his controversial first signature shoe, we even saw the iconic ASICS that Bruce Lee made popular.
One of the funniest models that I saw was the was the Thomas Dutton and Thorowgood running shoe which was popular from 1860-1865 which looked like a loafer with a half inch heel with cleat-like metal spikes. [Photo: Greg Washington Courtesy American Federation of Arts/Bata Shoe Museum]
The exhibit although limited to only 2 rooms and a projector video was perfect. It was amazing overhearing and engaging in the stories with the older sneaker-lovers talking to their kids just reminiscing on the times when they went crazy for the latest trend. Some of the stories weren’t even related to the shoes but referred to the collaborated designers and their sex lives. Watching some of the ladies stare at the Reebok Lifestyle Freestyle Hi sneakers thinking about their days in loud bright workout gear or looking at the old free spirited grandfather explain to his grandchild the significance of the waffle sole on the Vans slip-on was my favorite part of the exhibit.
There were rare shoes not just on display but as well as the many guest in attendance. There were so many smiles and happy people experiencing a snap shot of a pivotal culture together as one. It wasn’t a black or white or thing. The exhibit brought many cultures together to witness the history of one of the fastest growing cultures ever.
If you weren’t in Atlanta to witness the exhibit with The Bold Opinion Show on closing day, you have two more locations to experience the great rise of the sneaker culture. Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky from September 9th through November 27th and Oakland Museum of California from December 22nd to April 2nd 2017.