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The first Nike shoes were made in a waffle iron. The running field nearby the Oregon home of the runner and trainer Bill Bowerman was making a transition from cinder with an artificial surface, and he wanted a sole without spikes that could give him, along with his trainees, needed traction since they ran on it. Three of the-dimensional lattice in the iron offered a response, at the very least in terms of the wholesale nike shoes. As for the remainder of the design, at least in the beginning? It had been utilitarian: created by runners, for runners, and concerned mostly with making their wearers lighter, and thus faster, on their own feet.

That Nike is currently one of the biggest and most familiar brands on earth is largely the doing of Bowerman’s partner, the man who recently declared his retirement from the company: Phil Knight. Knight transformed Nike, not overnight but close to it, into a global powerhouse, known for both its successes along with its controversies. Along the way, however, he did something else: He turned athletic footwear into fashion.

It’s because of Knight that, as an example, Kanye West has a signature shoe, the Yeezy Boost. And this, last January, Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel and Raf Simons of Dior sent signature sneakers down their runways. And this, last September, Alice Temperley styled her runway looks with sneakers. And that Mo’ne Davis, she of Little League World Series fame, has released a collection of fashion sneakers for ladies ($75 a pair). Knight knew, in early stages, what we take for granted today: that even the most practical of footwear-even shoes we wear for such dull reasons as performance and, worse, comfort-could also function as fashion. He wasn’t within the shoe business, Knight insisted. He was in the entertainment business.

Sneakers started as luxury items. The very first rubber-soled athletic shoes debuted in the U.S. inside the 1890s-products, since the treads were the point, from the U.S Rubber Company. Rubber, during that time, was expensive, and leisure time was rare; the combination meant that the innovative shoes were worn, typically, only by elites. The sneaker market grew, however, during the early twentieth century-particularly after World War I, whose effects had led to a national emphasis on fitness and athleticism. Since the nation’s first gym rats came onto the scene, shoe companies began wholesale nike shoes free shipping to fit their needs.

In response for that democratization came one of the earliest nods toward shoes-as-fashion. In 1921, setting its version in the newly popular shoes aside from those of its competitors, one company recruited wemjjs basketball player-both to enhance their shoe’s design and then put his name on the final product. The company? The Converse Rubber Shoe Company. The athlete? Chuck Taylor.

It wasn’t until Nike came along, however, underneath the marketing leadership of Knight, that sneakers and fashion became nearly inextricably connected. The Nike Cortez, released in 1972, took benefit from twin cultural trends-conspicuous consumption and a renewed obsession with fitness (running, in particular)-to market the be-waffled sole Bill Bowerman had invented. The Cortez was launched on the height in the 1972 Olympics-and Nike had shrewdly ensured that this athletes on the Olympic field were clad inside the shoes. And the shoe’s design, too, had moved from athleticism alone. Available in a number of colors, and featuring, the first time, the iconic “swoosh” logo, these shoes were meant, CNN notes, “for those that wished to face out on the dance floor track as well as the running track.”

Seeing the possible, other designers joined the party. In 1984, Gucci released its iconic Gucci Tennis shoes. In 1985, betting on the rookie athlete named Michael Jordan, Nike itself released its Air Jordans. (As worn on-court, CNN notes, the shoes were initially banned through the NBA commissioner David Stern, on the grounds which they violated his stipulation that court shoes be majority-white. Jordan wore them anyway. Nike happily paid the fines.) And in 1986, Run-DMC released “My Adidas”-not the initial musical ode to footwear, but a telling one. The song marked on the one hand the birth of the intimate artistic and commercial relationship between hip-hop and sneakers; it also signaled that the shoes had solidified their status as status symbols.

Today, as a result of all of this, athletic shoe releases are met with similar sort of fervent enthusiasm that fashion shows are, and not just in sneakerhead culture. Kanye’s Yeezy Boost 350 collection out of stock on Saturday in a quarter-hour; in a nutshell order, a pair of the footwear appeared on eBay having an asking price of $ten thousand. Due to the creative marketing Nike and Phil Knight pioneered, cheap nike shoes china are popular, and collected, and talked about, and infused with artistry. Which is to express: These are fashion. “There’s this prestige factor,” a sports industry analyst told The Washington Post. “If I will buy a couple of LeBrons, this means I’ve got $175-and also you don’t.”