Sneakers have long been used for more than jogging. These days, they are fashion statements, collector’s items and must-have objects. We showcase this season’s most flamboyant kicks
»Sneakers have even caused relationships to breakdown«
An exhibition at the Hamburg Museum of Art and Industry (MKG) currently puts sneakers center-stage. Curator Jürgen Döring thinks the show was long overdue
Mr. Döring, Until now we thought sneakers were for wearing on your feet, not for being exhibited at a museum.
Sneakers are not art, but they are design objects and status symbols. The trend towards sneakers is a prime example of the aestheticization of everyday culture – that in itself deserves to be on show at a museum.
Is the success of sneakers indicative of a societal change?
Absolutely. This change can be pinpointed in time, namely the year 1985. That’s when Boris Becker won Wimbledon wearing Pumas. German Green Party politician Joschka Fischer was sworn in as the Hesse state government secretary of the environment wearing Nike sneakers. And in the U.S., hip-hop icons Run DMC performed in Adidas Superstars without laces, because these are taken away from inmates in U.S. jails. If not sooner, this is when sneakers became part of pop culture.
The world’s best selling sneaker, the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star, was launched back in 1923. What gives a shoe such longevity?
It is the simplicity of the model and the straightforwardness of its design. “Chucks” can be reinterpreted in a vast variety of ways. Originally, they started off being very simple, white, high-top basketball shoes, and were first worn on the street in the 1970s, when rockers and punks discovered them.
What kind of people camp out for weeks in front of stores in order not to miss out on new limited editions?
One group are the resellers, who get hold of the limited editions in order to sell them on for a multiple of the original retail price. Others are just ardent collectors. People who invest a lot of time, money and energy into their pursuit of sneakers. Their apartments are often filled with hundreds of shoeboxes. This has even caused relationships to breakdown.