Kicks : The Great American Story Of Sneakers - Paperback

Kicks : The Great American Story Of Sneakers

Smith, Nicholas

“A vivid picture of how what we wear on our feet can tell us what it really means to be an American.”—Vanity Fair

“Expansive, thorough, and entertaining . . . a comprehensive look at how much the sneaker became a signature indicator of cool.”—The Wall Street Journal

A cultural history of sneakers, tracing the footprint of one of our most iconic fashions across sports, business, pop culture, and American identity

“It’s gotta be the shoes.”

When Spike Lee said it to Michael Jordan in a 1989 commercial, it was with a wink and a nod—what makes MJ so good? His Nike Air Jordan IIIs, of course. But as Nicholas Smith reveals in this captivating history, Lee’s line also speaks to the sneaker’s place at the heart of American culture.

Once 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 twentieth century as sneakers became the totem of subcultures. We follow the humble athletic and watch as sneakers become the calling card of California skaters and New York MCs, the spark of riots and gang violence, the heart of a global economic controversy, the muse of haute couture, and a lynchpin in the transformation of big sports into big business.

Along the way, we meet larger-than-life mavericks and surprising visionaries: genius rubber inventor Charles Goodyear, risking everything to get his formula right; the warring brothers who started dueling shoe empires; road-warrior Chuck Taylor, hawking shoes out of his trunk; and many more mavericks, hustlers, and dreamers. With a sure stride and a broad footprint, Kicks introduces us to an influential and evolving legacy.