A cultural history of sneakers, tracing the footprint of one of our most iconic fashions across sports, business, pop culture, and American identity
When the athletic shoe graduated from the beaches and croquet courts of the wealthy elite to streetwear ubiquity, its journey through the heart of American life was just getting started. In this rollicking narrative, Nicholas K. Smith carries us through the long 20th century as sneakers became the totem of subcultures from California skateboarders to New York rappers, the cause of gang violence and riots, the heart of a global economic controversy, the lynchpin in a quest to turn big sports into big business, and the muse of high fashion. Studded with larger-than-life mavericks and unexpected visionaries - from genius rubber inventor, Charles Goodyear, to road-warrior huckster Chuck Taylor, to the feuding brothers who founded Adidas and Puma, to the track coach who changed the sport by pouring rubber in his wife's waffle iron - Kicks introduces us to the sneaker's surprisingly influential, enduring, and evolving legacy.
“No background (or interest, even) in footwear is required to enjoy this entertaining [listen]….Readers of sports history, popular culture, and business will be fascinated by Smith’s exciting, informative, and multifaceted narrative of the major roles the sneaker has played in US branding, perceptions, and culture.” (Booklist)
“Smith follows his fascination, sprinting through the evolution of the planet's hippest, most popular footwear, a history that goes way beyond sports and into the streets of the youth culture....A cornucopia of factoids and fun asides bursting with a wealth of in-depth information on every aspect of sneakers, from their birth to their current and continuing explosive popularity.” (Kirkus)
“A fast, smooth run through the social, financial and athletic history of the shoes that goosed the sports boom. New slogan: It’s gotta be the book!” (Robert Lipsyte, author of SportsWorld: An American Dreamland)