History of Sneakers

Back in the late 18th century, people wore rubber soled shoes called plimsolls, which were considered to be daps or pumps. Plimsolls is the type of athletic shoe with a canvas upper and a rubber sole developed as beachwear in the 1830’s by the Liverpool Rubber company. Plimsolls have solid rubber soles about 8 or 9 mm thick, to which the canvas is glued without coming up the sides. The effect when running is similar to running without shoes. There was no right or left foot.



The shoe was originated in the United Kingdom. Originally it was called a “sand shoe” and later it acquired the nickname “Plimsoll” in the 1870’s. This name quickly arose, according to Nicholette Jones’s book “The Plimsoll Sensation.” There was a colored horizontal band joining the upper to the sole that resembled the Plimsoll Line on a ship’s hull. Others assumed that just like the Plimsoll line on a ship, if water got above the line of the rubber sole, the wearer of the shoe would get wet.

Around 1892, the U.S. Rubber Company came up with more comfortable rubber sneakers with canvas tops, called Keds. By 1917, these sneakers began to be mass produced.

That same year, Marquis Converse produced the first shoe made just for basketball, called Converse All-Stars. In 1923, an Indiana hoops star named Chuck Taylor endorsed the shoes, and they became known as Chuck Taylor All-Stars. These are the best-selling basketball shoes of all time.

Did you know…
“They got the nickname sneakers because they were so quiet, a person wearing them could sneak up on someone and not get caught.”
Back To Top