This Sneakerhead Has Re-Risen For The Brooklyn Museum's New Exhibit - GangStarr Girl : GangStarr Girl

This Sneakerhead Has Re-Risen For The Brooklyn Museum’s New Exhibit

[ 1 ] July 11, 2015 |
Run DMC Adidas

adidas x Run–DMC. 25th Anniversary Superstar, 2011. Courtesy of Run–DMC, collection of Erik Blam. (Photo: Ron Wood. Courtesy American Federation of Arts/Bata Shoe Museum)

I was born and raised in New York City, so being into sneakers was kind of like a predestined birth rite. My sneaker style of choice started with Reebok’s 5411’s. If I was lucky enough to get a pair of my choice as a child — because my mom was not about to spend what she thought was frivolous money on material things — I’d usually get a black pair or sometimes red. In college, I shifted focus to more to heels and dressier shows, but after I graduated and moved back to NYC, I was all about the sneakers again. Nike Dunks were my vice.

Over the course of three years, I had amassed an impressive collection of Dunks. I had never been one to stand in lines overnight or trample people to get that perfect pair. I chose online and mom and pop shops in the hood to fuel my passion whenever I could. However, collecting sneakers can be overwhelming, so as I got more budget conscious and more diligent about keeping the clutter down, I started donating much of my footwear to charity, and cut down significantly on purchases, but the fascination never left me.

That is why I am excited about The Rise of the Sneaker Culture, and exhibit running at the Brooklyn Museum from July 10-October 4. With over 150 sneakers on display, The Rise of the Sneaker Culture explores how sneakers went from being basic functional shoes created at the in the the 19th century, to a cult phenomenon with political and cultural implications.

I interviewed one of the exhibit’s curators, which you can read about over at The Root, which will give you more explicit details about the exhibit, and I also attended Wednesday’s opening preview. It was like Disney World for knowledge seekers — not just for sneaker buffs, but also for people who enjoy history and intricate details woven into the fabric of who we are as a society, no pun intended.

What you can expect to find in addition to sneakers, of course, is historical facts about the vulcanization of rubber, what the first model of Keds and Converse looked like, when concern first began to rise about children not being active enough, view the running shoes that the founder of Adidas gave to Olympic athlete Jesse Owens to train in for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, the Alpha Phi Alpha basketball team in 1926 ready for a game, the impact on high fashion designers like Christian Louboutin and Chanel, hip-hop’s impact on sneakers (Run DMC’s Adidas, for example), and of course the Jordan monster, which has had the biggest impact on sneaker culture, pop culture, and history.

Early Converse and Keds on display.

Early Converse and Keds on display.


Brothers of A Phi A repping the Black and Gold.

Brothers of A Phi A repping the Black and Gold.


Jordan's, of course!

Jordan’s, of course!

Red Bottoms

Red Bottoms

If you are a sneakerhead then you will most likely see some kicks that you probably wanted at some point, but didn’t get for whatever reason like the Pigeon Dunks, or in my case, the De La Soul’s, which I couldn’t find in my size (6 in boys).

De La Soul Dunks

De La Soul Dunks


There mini documentaries about various aspects of sneaker life like, the mysterious floating sneakers that pop up above telephone poles. There are also personal stories and accounts from designers like Sophia Chang, Jeff Staple, and more.

I didn’t see much about women in sneaker culture because, let’s face it, the sneaker world is still dominated by men. However, I managed to find some gems geared toward the estrogen-driven massive. For example, before there were wedge sneakers, there were these, um, interesting creations:

Original Sneakers With Heels.

Original sneakers with heels.

About women In sneaker culture.

About women In sneaker culture.


What you thought you knew about your favorite pair doesn’t even scratch the surface. You won’t regret this exhibit. You might even be inspired to go out and buy a funky pair. Check it out if you can.

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Category: Events, Fashion/Style, Pop Culture

About the Author ()

Starrene Rhett Rocque is a recovering journalist who often fantasizes about becoming a shotgun-toting B-movie heroine.

Comments (1)

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  1. Wow, I never thought about, let alone knew, that sneakers were also oppressive for women! Makes me wanna start my own women only sneaker company! Great post (as always), and I’m super inclined to see this exhibit, though I’m not a sneaker head, I appreciate the shoe making process and design aspects.

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