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The first Nike shoes were made in a waffle iron. The running field near 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 supply him with, and his trainees, needed traction because they ran into it. The 3-dimensional lattice in the iron offered an answer, at the very least as far as the cheap nike shoes from china free shipping. As for the rest of the design and style, at the very least initially? It had been utilitarian: created by runners, for runners, and concerned mostly with making their wearers lighter, and so faster, on their own feet.

That Nike is currently one of the biggest and most well known 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 both for its successes along with its controversies. In the process, however, he did something else: He turned athletic footwear into fashion.

It’s due to Knight that, as an example, Kanye West has a signature shoe, the Yeezy Boost. And that, 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 this Mo’ne Davis, she of Little League World Series fame, has released a collection of fashion sneakers for ladies ($75 a set). Knight knew, in early stages, what we ignore today: that including the most practical of footwear-including the shoes we wear for such dull reasons as performance and, worse, comfort-can also work as fashion. He wasn’t inside the shoe business, Knight insisted. He is at the entertainment business.

Sneakers started as luxury items. The initial rubber-soled athletic shoes debuted in the U.S. in the 1890s-products, since the treads were the purpose, of the U.S Rubber Company. Rubber, during those times, was expensive, and free time was rare; the combination resulted in the innovative shoes were worn, for the most part, only by elites. The sneaker market grew, however, in the early twentieth century-particularly after World War I, whose effects had resulted in a national emphasis on fitness and athleticism. As the nation’s first gym rats came on the scene, shoe companies began wholesale nike shoes free shipping to match their demands.

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

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

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

Today, due to all this, athletic shoe releases are met with the same kind of fervent enthusiasm that fashion shows are, and not simply 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 these shoes appeared on eBay with an asking price of $10,000. Due to the creative marketing Nike and Phil Knight pioneered, cheap nike shoes are now desired, and collected, and mentioned, and infused with artistry. Which is also to say: They are fashion. “There’s this prestige factor,” a sports industry analyst told The Washington Post. “If I could buy a pair of LeBrons, it means I’ve got $175-and you also don’t.”