Monday, December 26, 2011

Adrian Quist, The godfather of designer trainers

The word sneaker was first used in 1875 and referred to an early croquet shoe, which was developed in the US. The modern sneaker made its appearance in 1917, with brown canvas tops and black rubber soles. Its manufacturer, the National India Rubber Company, first called the creation Peds, However the name was already registered for another product, so the "P" was traded for a "K" (for "kids"), making Keds. By the 1950s sneakers became associated with the merging teenage leisure market. They were cheap, hardwearing and suitable for sport and leisure activities such as dancing. Worn by high school students around the world they soon became the icons of youthful rebellion. Whilst their older sisters wore stilettos, the young fry were doing it in canvas topped shoes. Keds for girls and chucks for boys. Soon sneaker sole patterns were changing and. the vogue for circles and squares in the 60s was replaced by trendy herringbone patterns, in the seventies. Herringbone was the brainchild of Australian tennis player, Adrian Quist. He must have had something because he was the left-court half of the great Australian doubles team of Bromwich and Quist, They won titles in Australian, the U.S. doubles and, Wimbledon, before and after the war. The function of ridged patterns on the sole of shoes is to increase traction and help with stability. This is critical on soft surfaces when a tennis player to weightbearing on one foot while turn their body. In a time before synthetic polymers, ridged patterns would be the only means of performance enhancement. The Dunlop Volley was introduced in 1939 and has sold more than 24-million pairs as the evergreen of tennis shoes. When Quist went to America, he saw a boating shoe with a very unusual sole pattern. He convinced Dunlop, to put the sole onto a canvas shoe and the rest as they say is history. Sport crossover to fashion is common but seldom lasts longer than a short period. The kids in the seventies took to the green shoe with the herringbone sole even although it had lost a bit of market lead with the tennis fraternity. Despite being replaced in the eighties by grids of squares the Dunlop Volley continues to be popular. Not long after outsole designs began to incorporate manufactures logos and or fashion dashes distinctive to the makers. By the 1970's keeping fit set in motion a movement which affected all ages. Shoes needed to match the outfit and a hungry market was created. To keep demand high, the giants like Adidas, Puma and Nike produced what were virtually fashion ranges of sports shoes. This remains a major industry worldwide.

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