Nice Kicks: A Brief History Of Celebrity Sneakers

Sneakers have been a trend for decades. Celebrity Sneakers have a major role in keeping it in vogue. Sneakers go back to the 18th century when the style and make was crude. The right and left wear were not even distinctly made. In 1892 plimsolls got upgraded to Keds with comfortable rubber soles, and the mass-production began in 1917. The name ‘sneakers’ was chosen because one could be sneaky and walk around in these shoes without making any sound. But sneakers were still associated with athletes and considered as sportswear for the longest time.

The first celebrity endorsement of sneakers was a collaboration between Converse and Chuck Taylor, a basketball player, in 1934 and one year later by Jack Purcell. The subsequent endorsements that Converse organized were in the 70s – making signature shoes with legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Walt Frazier, Stan Smith, and Arthur Ashe. However, one of the most remarkable endorsement deals in the history of sneakers was the tie-up between Converse and the legendary Michael Jordan in 1984.

This conception of sneakers being exclusively sportswear was disturbed when musicians collaborated with prestigious brands to endorse them. A group of hip-hop music artists called RUN DMC in 1986 changed the collaboration game by making their song “My Adidas” during the launch of a customized pair of Adidas’ classic Superstar style. Later, celebrities began donating their exclusive shoes as a gesture to promote a sense of equality, as documented by the Small Steps Project.

Here is an account of the most remarkable collaborations in the history of Celebrity sneakers.

Jay-Z’s collaboration with Reebok in 2002

The iconic musician and rapper Jay-Z or Sean Carter collaborated with Reebok in 2002. The final product customized by the rapper was called Reebok S. Carter.

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Fans started learning Jay-Z’s style, simple and minimalistic yet classy and elegant. The shoe design was plain white but with a great accent at the heel. Whereas the laces were red, and the sole was green. The idea was to create a balanced contrast.

50 Cent’s Collaboration with Reebok in 2004

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Another remarkable Reebok collaboration was with 50 Cent two years later. Again, the rapper followed Jay-Z’s footsteps, and the changes he brought about in the shoes were small red and blue stripes on each side of a shoe with a G externally embroidered on its body.

The model was named Reebok G Unit. 50 Cents became almost as successful as his predecessor when he promoted its sales. The rapper wore it nearly to every music tour, and fans were so hyped that the sneakers flew off the shelves in an instant.

Lil Wayne’s Collaboration with Supra Sneakers in 2012

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Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. or Lil Wayne endorsed Supra sneakers since 2012. The customized model that came out of this historical deal was called Supra S1W.

Lil Wayne launched a personal shoe line under Supra Sneakers, and this sub-brand is called ‘SPECTRE by Supra.’ Fans wondered over the years why the hip-hop star was often seen in Supra sneakers. Now the reason becomes apparent.

Beyoncé’s Collaboration with PMK Sneakers in 2013

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Beyoncé’s actual sneakers collection is probably simply accessible to celebrities and is not available as an asset or collectible to the masses. Nevertheless, her collaboration with PMK was a historic deal in the timeline of Celebrity sneakers.

In 2013, the singer endorsed PMK sneakers. She chose PMK because of the exclusive and exotic customization options they provide to stars. According to People, The wedge sneakers she went for were a pair of all-white Isabel Marant made using unusual materials like stingray, ostrich, calf’s fur, crocodile, and anaconda skins. So an appropriate name for this model was – ‘The King-Bey.’

Kendrick Lamar’s Collaboration with Reebok sneakers in 2015

Another pop star and musician who collaborated with Reebok was Kendrick Lamar. In 2015, he employed the Ventilator style of these sneakers. But his customization of Reebok Sneakers was not an extravagant celebrity gesture, and it had meaning.

This was an attempt on Lamar’s Part to bridge the gap between two warring groups, the blood and crip gang, in Compton, where he spent most of his childhood. The shoe’s design incorporated the word ‘Red’ on the right foot and ‘Blue’ on the left, both written in caps. In addition, it is reported that the tongues of both the shoes had the word ‘Neutral’ on them.

Kanye West’s collaboration with Nike and Adidas in 2015

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Billionaire rapper Kanye West once collaborated with Nike to design two models. These were called the Nike Air Yeezy’s and the Air Yeezy 2s. These sneakers were so popular that they sold for $4000-$6000 for a pair.

After this success, West wanted to up his deal with Nike for skyrocketing profits. However, West dropped his deal with Nike and took it up with Adidas instead when Nike refused to increase his compensation after the rising success of the model.

Some other historic endorsement deals include Rihanna’s Fenty plus Puma deal, Riccardo Tisci’s Nike collaboration, Pharrell Williams’ Adidas deal, and Kevin Hart’s collaboration with Nike around 2015-16. In addition, the Weekend announced a partnership with Puma in 2017, as stated by W Magazine. It looks like this trend is tough to fade.

READ NEXT: 4 Ways Kanye West Built His Brand ‘Yeezy’

Source: W Magazine, People, Small Steps Project

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