The initial Nike shoes were made in a waffle iron. The running field near the Oregon home of the runner and trainer Bill Bowerman was making a transition from cinder to an artificial surface, and he wanted a sole without spikes that would give him, and his trainees, needed traction as they ran on it. The three-dimensional lattice of the iron offered an answer, at least so far as the Cheap Nike Shoes China went. As for the rest of the design, at least at first? It was utilitarian: created by runners, for runners, and concerned mostly with making their wearers lighter, and thus faster, on their feet.

That Nike is now one of the biggest and many recognizable brands on earth is largely the doing of Bowerman’s partner, the man who recently announced his retirement from the company: Phil Knight. Knight transformed Nike, not overnight but close to it, into a global powerhouse, known both for its successes along with its controversies. Along the way, however, he did something different: He turned athletic footwear into fashion.

It’s because of Knight that, as an example, Kanye West has a signature shoe, the Yeezy Boost. Which, last January, Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel and Raf Simons of Dior sent signature sneakers down their runways. And this, last September, Alice Temperley styled her runway looks with sneakers. Which Mo’ne Davis, she of Little League World Series fame, has released a line of fashion sneakers for girls ($75 a pair). Knight knew, in early stages, what we take for granted today: that even most practical of footwear-even the shoes we wear for such dull reasons as performance and, worse, comfort-may also serve as fashion. He wasn’t inside the shoe business, Knight insisted. He was in the entertainment business.

Sneakers started as luxury items. The first rubber-soled athletic shoes debuted inside the U.S. within the 1890s-products, because the treads were the point, in the U.S Rubber Company. Rubber, during those times, was expensive, and leisure time was rare; the combination meant the innovative shoes were worn, in most cases, only by elites. The Nike Shoes Cheap market grew, however, during the early 20th century-particularly after World War I, whose effects had resulted in a national emphasis on fitness and athleticism. Because the nation’s first gym rats came onto the scene, shoe companies began mass-producing shoes to match their needs.

In response to that democratization came one of the earliest nods toward shoes-as-fashion. In 1921, to set its version of the newly popular shoes aside from the ones from its competitors, one company recruited a basketball player-both to improve their shoe’s design then put his name on the final product. The organization? The Converse Rubber Shoe Company. The athlete? Chuck Taylor.

It wasn’t until Nike emerged, however, beneath the marketing leadership of Knight, that sneakers and fashion became nearly inextricably connected. The Nike Cortez, released in 1972, took benefit from twin cultural trends-conspicuous consumption as well as a renewed obsession with fitness (running, in particular)-to advertise the be-waffled sole Bill Bowerman had invented. The Cortez was released at the height of the 1972 Olympics-and Nike had shrewdly ensured that the athletes on the Olympic field were clad in the shoes. And also the shoe’s design, too, had moved from athleticism alone. Available in a number of colors, and featuring, for the first time, the iconic “swoosh” logo, the shoes were meant, CNN notes, “for people who wished to face out on the dance floor track along with the running track.”

Seeing the possibility, other designers joined the party. In 1984, Gucci released its iconic Gucci Tennis shoes. In 1985, betting over a rookie athlete named Michael Jordan, Nike itself released its Air Jordans. (As worn on-court, CNN notes, these shoes were initially banned from the NBA commissioner David Stern, on the grounds that they violated his stipulation that court shoes be majority-white. Jordan wore them anyway. Nike happily paid the fines.) And in 1986, Run-DMC released “My Adidas”-not the very first musical ode to footwear, but a telling one. The song marked on the one hand the birth from the intimate artistic and commercial relationship kpelqt hip-hop and Cheap Jordans; in addition, it signaled that this shoes had solidified their status as status symbols.

Today, due to this, athletic shoe releases are met with the exact same kind of fervent enthusiasm that fashion shows are, and not simply in sneakerhead culture. Kanye’s Yeezy Boost 350 collection out of stock on Saturday in fifteen minutes; in a nutshell order, a couple of the footwear appeared on eBay having an asking price of $ten thousand. Because of the creative marketing Nike and Phil Knight pioneered, athletic footwear is now sought after, and collected, and discussed, and infused with artistry. Which is also to state: They are fashion. “There’s this prestige factor,” a sports industry analyst told The Washington Post. “If I could buy a pair of LeBrons, it means I’ve got $175-and you also don’t.”

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