From the Court to the Street - SNEAKERS AND STREETWEAR



Streetwear is not a trend.

Streetwear is a movement born almost simultaneously in NYC, LA, and across Japan (to name a few) in the 1980s.

It wasn’t created by the corporate elite and it was never intended to be “pristine”. It was  supposed to be rough and authentic, true to the ideals of self-expression. Heavily developed on the margins of society, streetwear was a product of the skate scene and hip-hop scene in NYC, the graffiti scene in LA, and Japanese design.

What you wear on your body matters. Maybe not brand specifically but how you present yourself. Further - what you wear on your feet matters, and at the core of this movement was the role of sneakers.

Basketball and the legends of the sport played an influential role in the development of the movement. Dating back to the ‘70s what was seen on the court was what was needed and eventually seen on the street. There is no shortage of brands that found themselves at the center of this; Puma, Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Converse, Reebok, Jordan, and many others found their place in streetwear. 

While we can go on and on and talk about practically every and any sneaker to touch the earth and its impact on streetwear, let’s take a look at some of the more prominent ones.

Nike Air Jordans

The Air Jordans need no introduction.

On April 1, 1985, the world changed with the introduction of the most important silhouette sneaker culture and streetwear had ever seen - the Jordan 1

At the time of the release, Michael Jordan hadn’t yet become the icon he would later become. A rookie in the NBA, he was going up against greats like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. 

While Jordan began making a name for himself - his sneaker became iconic.

With every release of a new Jordan, the hype for his sneaker grew.

To this day, the debate rages on “which Jordan is the best to be released?”

Is it the Jordan 1? If so, what colourway? The Jordan 2 is highly slept on. Or what about the Jordan 4? Or maybe the Cool Grey 11’s?

NO WAIT! The Jordan “Aqua” 8’s.

I don’t even think it matters.

Truth be told, you can throw on a pair of J’s from 1 to (I would say 14) and it would make any outfit go CRAZY.

That’s the effect Jordan’s have on streetwear.

Since we started this discussion with the Jordan 1, let’s jump right into the next sneaker which is birthed directly from the Jordan 1 silhouette.

Nike Dunks

Having initially taken heavy inspiration from the Jordan 1, the Nike Dunk has grown massively in popularity. Streetwear and the Nike Dunk are like peanut butter and jelly. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who considers themselves to be part of streetwear culture and sneaker culture and have never owned a pair of Nike Dunks.

From their debut release in 1985 and the first marketing campaign “Be True To Your School” slogan, the Dunks gave players and fans a chance to sport their schools colours and opened the door to a huge range of potential colourways.

The Nike Dunk has seen many iterations and collaborations. They have general releases that are still creating buzz and hype as if they were limited editions.

The Nike Dunk may be the king of streetwear sneakers and we still haven’t discussed the next few shoes.

Nike Blazers

The Blazer was Nike’s first basketball sneaker (alongside the Bruin) in 1973. In a time when Converse dominated the courts, the Blazer was Nike’s first foray into the NBA. Uncommitted to basketball at the time, Nike and the Blazer never got their dues in the NBA, however, the Blazer eventually found a home in Nike’s SB program. The silver lining of the blazer and its failure as a true basketball shoe created the need that eventually pushed Nike back into basketball with the Jordan 1 in 1985. 

To this day, the Blazer remains relevant in several markets. You can dress them up or down and it still looks great. 

Adidas Forums

This 1984 legend became an instant streetwear classic. Michael Jordan himself wore Forumsfor Olympic trials and was set to sign with Adidas before Nike stepped in. 

This sneaker was part of every sneaker subculture in America at the time. No matter the city, no matter the movement, from breakdancers to the slab, the Adidas Forum was a part of it.

It, just like the Dunk, has crossed several boundaries, mainly with many celebrities endorsing this sneaker as part of their everyday wear and in the skateboard community where it is heavy in the streets.

The Adidas Forum has never been a slouch in streetwear nor will it ever be.

A Sneaker Love Story

Sneakers and streetwear. Streetwear and sneakers. It is synonymous and one cannot exist without the other.

During the birth of the streetwear culture in the 1980’s and 90’s, these sneakers were very much the key players then as much as they are decades later. These sneakers performed well on the court as much as they did on the street. This is why they are here to stay. This is why they’re goated. This is why whether it’s 1973 or 2023, these sneakers will always be in rotation.

Legends never die.