You do not have to be a sneaker aficionado to enjoy Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture. This exhibition at the Bata Shoe Museum explores the history of the sneaker from the 19th century through to today. Out of the Box is the first exhibition in North America to showcase the history of sneaker culture and will feature over 120 sneakers representing the past 150 years.
The origin of the sneaker dates back to the middle of the 19th century when it emerged from a confluence of technological advancements and profound cultural shifts. These first sneakers were called plimsoles but by 1873, the term sneaker had been coined. By the middle of the 20th century the pursuit of bodily perfection took on nationalistic overtones and the sneaker became firmly entrenched in the wardrobe of millions. The ‘Me Generation’ of the 1970s shifted the focus of fitness from cultivating group identity to the pursuit of individual success and high-end athletic footwear became signifiers of conspicuous consumption. It was the embrace of the basketball shoe in American urban centers, however, at the end of the century that would give rise to sneaker culture and transform the sneaker into the icon that it is today.
The exhibition runs until March of 2014