Most Popular Sneaker Brands
When it comes to fashion, particularly in the hip-hop community, sneakers rank high as the one accessory that’s never ignored. While they date back 2 centuries ago, the rubber-soled footwear has been the staple amid artists since Run D.M.C. released the iconic song “My A.D.I.D.A.S.” 35 years later and they are just as important as ever, if not more now that Hip-Hop has been named the most listened to genre in the world (Newsflash: it’s been that way for the last 15 years). Throughout this time, brands left the scene as quickly as they came in but there are a few that outlasted the rest. Read on for the brands that prevailed.
Originally titled Blue Ribbon Sports, Nike got its start by Phil Knight & Bill Bowerman of the University of Oregon as a distributor for Onitsuka Tiger which we would refer to today as ASICS in 1964. Within its first year of business, the company went on to gross $8000 with revenue nearly tripling a year later. In 1971, Onitsuka Tiger parted ways with Blue Ribbon Sports & the Nike name with the legendary “Swoosh” logo was born. With it’s many acquisitions in other businesses, namely Converse & Cole Haan, it’s no wonder that Nike has been able to stay on top as the number 1 shoemaker for years. From the Air Force 1’s to the Air Max 95’s & 97’s to the Jordans, hip-hop artists like Nelly & The Game have made references to the iconic shoes in their records. It also goes without saying that this brand has been at the forefront of hip-hop for a strong 25 years, as there’s a correlation between the music genre and the sneaker company. Both have come from small beginnings and have transcended into a world domination in their prospective fields.
The birth of Adidas comes from Adolf Dassler who began making the shoes in his mother’s house in Herzogenaurach, Germany in 1924. Teaming up with his brother Rudolf, they became the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory. The specialty of the duo were spiked shoes which were unheard-of at the time constructed of rubber & canvas. The Dassler Brothers would see an influx of demand when they got Jesse Owens to wear them in the Olympics of 1936. After winning 4 gold medals, they soon became the go-to shoes in high performance selling 200,000 pairs a year. Tensions began brewing between the two brothers and forced them to split in 1947. Within that split Rudolf went on to create Ruda which goes by the name Puma today & Adolf created Adidas SG in 1949. The possession of the 3-Stripe logo happened in 1952, right after the Summer Olympics. Since it’s mentioning in the classic record “My Adidas”, The corporation has developed a cult like following with sneakerheads. Favorites that have resurfaced include the Superstar, Stan Smiths, & Gazelles. Within the last 4 years, the creative designers for Nike Marc Dolce, Mark Miner, and Denis Dekovichave left & took their services over to Adidas. Pair that with Kanye West & now Drake endorsing them, it wouldn’t surprise me if they eclipse Nike as the most popular brand in the world.
The story of how Vans came about is an example of what hard work & persistence can do for a person. In 1944 Paul Van Doren came to realization at the age of 14 that he wasn’t to fond of school & decided to drop out. His mother was certainly not a fan of his choices and told him to get a job at a shoe manufacturing company named Randy’s. He started off cleaning floors & making shoes. By staying committed to seeing things through, Paul worked his way up to Executive Vice President in 20 years. Under his reign, Randy’s became one of the largest U.S. shoe manufacturers in the state of Massachusetts & because of the growth, the company in turn reassigned him to other stores who weren’t doing so good. The results were great: the reassigned store in California was doing better than the store where he started out. Realizing that he had a gift to sell shoes, he decided to start his own company. With the help from his brother James Van Doren and friends Gordon C Lee & Serge D’Elia, the first store was opened in 1966 under the name The Van Doren Rubber Company. Today, Lil Wayne, Dom Kennedy, Joe Budden, Kanye West, G-Eazy, Chris Brown, YG & countless others have been spotted rocking the sneakers in various colorways.
As mentioned earlier, Rudolf Dassler went on with the Puma company after splitting with his brother Adolf in 1948. With its series of up and downs over the past few decades, there has been a resurgence in the brand. Artists such as Rihanna, who serves as the creative director & overseer of the women sneaker line, Meek Mill & Nipsey Hussle have exclusive partnerships that have brought awareness in today’s market.
Founded in 1895, Joseph William Foster designed his first pair of spiked shoes in Bolton England. The name became J.W. Foster & Sons, after pairing up with his children to open a small factory. The shoes began to become popular amid the British Athletes in the UK. J.W. Foster & Sons eventually changed their name to Reebok in 1958 which derives from grey rhebok, which is an African antelope. In 1979, a man by the name of Paul Fireman took a liking to the company at a sneaker trade show in Chicago. He negotiated a deal to market & license the shoes in the U.S. As soon as that deal was signed, he went on to manufacture 3 different types of shoes under the Reebok moniker. By 1981, the company had raked in $1.5 million. Fast forward 20 years, Reebok gained exclusive rights to manufacture merchandise for the NFL. What was once laughed at in my childhood has become a form of fashionable footwear worn by the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Allen Iverson (with his Question lineup) & Rick Ross.
Now what kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t mention Converse? This American shoe company was founded in 1908 by Marquis Mills Converse & introduced its famous All Star Shoe in 1917. Who would’ve known that a basketball player by the name of Charles “Chuck” Taylor complaining about how his feet were hurting would elevate the shoe to massive popularity? The shoes received the prominent signature on the patch in 1932. It was 1962 when Wilt Chamberlain would wear them in his record setting 100-point game against the New York Knicks. The organization would go on to be purchased by sneaker conglomerate Nike for $309 million. Even after being around for nearly a century, artists like Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, The Game (who’s alias is Chuck Taylor) & Tyga have continued the legacy by rocking the canvas shoes.
As you can see, the companies that have been around the longest are the ones that are still producing to this day. As long as these companies can continue to be stylish & accepting of the hip hop genre, the community will continue to support them. What do you think? leave a comment