Nike is now one of the biggest and most recognisable brands in the world. Phil Knight transformed the brand into the global powerhouse that it is today. Initially known for its line of high-quality athletic footwear, Nike is now marketed and recognised as a fashion icon.
With the rise of conspicuous consumption and a renewed obsession with fitness, running in particular, Nike steadily rose to become part of the indispensable shelf of utilitarianism and then later evolved into quite the high-fashion commodity.
A witness to this rise is Kanye West’s signature shoe with Adidas, the Yeezy Boost; Chanel and Dior using running shoes in their runways, and the high demand for the Nike Air Jordan 4 Retro from 5Pointz.co.uk and other online retail stores.
Tracing the Steps of Sneakers
Athletic footwear didn’t always have this kind of halo. Sneakers began as luxury items because rubber was expensive at that time and leisure was rare. Elites then were the only ones that had the privilege to wear and use innovative shoes.
The early 20th century, however, saw fitness and athleticism grow in popularity. Gyms became fashionable and shoe companies began mass-producing shoes to fit this new niche. When Nike came along under Phil Knight’s marketing leadership, sneakers weren’t about sports anymore.
From Function to Fashion
With Knight guiding the company, sneakers and fashion became nearly inextricably connected. Other designers spotted the potential Knight was nursing and joined in on the party, too. In 1984, Gucci released its iconic tennis shoes; a year after, Nike released the Air Jordans.
Year after year, they marketed shoes infused with artistry as the design gradually moved away from athleticism alone. The shoes became available in a variety of colours and even became available in designs made especially for women.
Sneakers were made by runners and were made for runners. It was concerned with making the wearers lighter, and faster on their feet. But as consumers showed more interest and as designers played a hand at the styles, athletic footwear became sought after, collected and talk about. It became fashion.