How Sneakers Explain the World

Friday, August 24, 2012

Steve Kelly, a 29 year-old from the Bronx, works on Wall Street and wears Kobe 6's. (Brad Mielke/WNYC)

When Run DMC released "My Adidas" in 1986, it might have been the biggest celebrity shoe endorsement since James Dean made Jack Purcells the official footwear of rebels without a cause. 

But that was all before Michael. Since Air Jordans debuted in 1985, the sneaker industry has been dominated by basketball's biggest stars.

But how have shoes risen to this level of prominence? And where does fashion intersect with sports, race, and class? Emily Chertoff of The Atlantic says it began with a simple narrative, sold by shoe companies to specific communities. Jamilah King, sports editor at Colorlines.com, has been examining her own relationship to footwear as a self-professed "sneakerhead."

The Takeaway headed to The Cage, one of Manhattan's most famous basketball courts, to hear what its players and fans thought about LeBron's new $300 pairs of sneakers — and to see which kicks they were sporting themselves.

Check out a slideshow of sneakers we saw at The Cage.

25 year old Brooklyn resident Steven Craig in his size 13 LeBron Olympic Postseason 9s.
Brad Mielke/WNYC

25 year old Brooklyn resident Steven Craig in his size 13 LeBron Olympic Postseason 9s.

Mike Boyd, 21 years old from the Bronx, and his Nike Foams.
Brad Mielke/WNYC

Mike Boyd, 21 years old from the Bronx, and his Nike Foams.

Steve Kelly, a 29 year old from the Bronx, works on Wall Street. Here he is in his Kobe 6's.
Brad Mielke/WNYC

Steve Kelly, a 29 year old from the Bronx, works on Wall Street. Here he is in his Kobe 6's.

19 year old Brooklyn resident and Berkeley College student Brian Payne in his Amare Stoudamire Nike Airs.
Brad Mielke/WNYC

19 year old Brooklyn resident and Berkeley College student Brian Payne in his Amare Stoudamire Nike Airs.

The Cage in New York City.
Brad Mielke/WNYC

The Cage in New York City.

Staff members at The Takeaway reveal their choice of footwear.
Brad Mielke/WNYC
Staff members at The Takeaway reveal their choice of footwear.

Guests:

Emily Chertoff and Jamilah King

Produced by:

Arwa Gunja and Brad Mielke

Comments [2]

Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Alot of Sneakers look like kids toys that should come with batteries... I hate sneakers which whistle.

Performance footwear in a classic shell; no markings on a shoe whatsoever that is for me. Old School skips is for me

Aug. 24 2012 12:22 PM

This was an interesting piece but, frankly, I was so distracted by Emily Chertoff's odd pseudo-Hepburnian accent that a good deal of it was lost on me.

Aug. 24 2012 09:47 AM

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