Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Vans, Converse, Nike - Sport to Street

 My children are big Converse fans, so we were all really excited to read that a exhibition dedicated to sports shoes was coming to Barnsley.


 The exhibition started with trainers from the 19th Century.

During the first half of the 19th Century, American Charles Goodyear spent years studying the properties of rubber, eventually inventing a heating process called vulcanisation in 1839. This process transformed rubber into a tough and reliable material as opposed to a material that would turn sticky in hot weather and brittle in cold. In 1844, he applied for a U.S. patent and began making all sorts of rubber goods including rubber soled canvas boots.
 Early child's plimsolls

 Goatskin running shoes worn by Christopher Chattaway, circa 1955.
He wore them during the four minute mile, Oxford, 6 May 1954. During the race Roger Bannister became the first athlete to break the four minute barrier.

 Reuben loved these Batman sneakers from the 1950's.
BNIB, as they like to say on ebay!

Canvas 1974 (same age as me!)
Jack Purcell Trainers

This was the first version of the Jack Purcell that was produced by Converse after they acquired the rights from Goodrich in 1972.

 The company began as a rubber shoe manufacturer, which offered winterised rubber soled footwear for men, women, and children. It wasn't until 1912 that the company first started producing athletic shoes for tennis.

In 1917, the game of basketball was revolutionised by the introduction of the worlds first performance based shoe, the Converse All Star.

A year later, Charles H Taylor, a basketball player acquired his first pair of All Star shoes. While wearing Converse he introduced basketball as a sport to Americans across the country. Charles 'Chuck' Taylor officially joined Converse in 1921 as America's first player endorser. Chuck Taylor's signature was added two years later in the all star patch.
Converse had been popular with many celebrities over the years, but in the late 1980'spopularity started to wane. Converse filed for bankruptcy in 2001.
In 2003 Nike bought out the company.

I was a bit disappointed to find out that Nike owned Converse. It doesn't seem as quirky to be wearing Nike Converse! Imogen loves Converse.  She has been wearing them for a few years now, since before they became ultra trendy. When she first started wearing them, she had strange looks from girls of a similar age, and comments such as "Are you a tomboy? Why are you wearing them?" But she stuck with them and now it's fine for her to wear them, they are 'trendy'.

Vans Serio

In the 1960's, Paul Van Doren set up his first shoe shop in California. The shop offered three styles of shoe and the guiding principle was to make the sneakers and sell straight to the customer.  Although a distinctive brand, Vans was open to buyer customisation. People could  specify how they wanted their shoes to look.  Back in 1966 the sneakers sold for $2.49 and $4.99.
Have you seen the price of Vans today??!!

But I do like the Hello Kitty Vans :)
 Azalea Pink/True White
 On to the 1980's...
I'm convinced I had a pair of trainers like this.

 There are some great activities for children to do at the exhibition.
A picture trail  for younger children. For older children a trail with questions, a crossword and word search. I was really impressed by the activities provided. By the end of the afternoon, both Reuben and Rosanna could look at a photo of a small part of a shoe and then decide whether it was really old, modern or from a celebrity!

I found this part of the exhibition really interesting, 
how fashions arose in football.

It was generally though that the scene originated in Liverpool in the late 1970's. The Liverpool team were the football kings of Europe and fans started to bring home expensive designer goods, such as Lacoste, Fila and Ellese from their travels.

 Many people associate football casuals with excessive violence.

 I had a pair of Adidas Samba to start Comprehensive school.

On to the designer section...

Adidas hi-tops with wings.
We actually saw someone wearing a pair of these in Meadowhall.
We got very excited!!!

Adidas ObyO designed by Jeremy Scott in 2009

Nike Air Max 95+
Released in 2012, in the colours of the olympic rings.

And saving the best till last ...





Imogen dared me to ask them to lift the plastic case, so I could sniff them!

So what did I do?

I'll leave you guessing ...


  1. I would not think an exhibit on shoes could be interesting, but I loved this! It was fascinating, and what a great family activity.

  2. Hi again! Love the post.

    Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend and look forward to *seeing* you again!

  3. what a fun exhibit! Love the red white and blue converse hi-tops!

  4. Oh, I liked this! I love trainers :)

  5. Oh I liked this! I love trainers :)

  6. What a fun field trip you took me on!

  7. That must have been fun, didn't know they would hold an exhibion about sport shoes.

  8. Now that's a different kind of exhibit! What fun! But Nike owning Converse? That's just not right :p
    My granddaughter would love those Hello Kitty Vans!

  9. I have to show this post to my son, he is an athletic shoe aficionado



  10. My kids LOVE shoes.

    And so does their mom...


  11. VERY interesting V post! :)

  12. Where's the exhibition in Barnsley? I have to admit that although I've worked there, I've never noticed a museum there.

  13. A very interesting history lesson. Who would have thought shoes could be so interesting.

  14. wow, that was super interesting! I wish I could have seen all those gorgeous shoes.

  15. Nike owns Converse?


    That bugs me and I'm not totally sure why.

    This was really a very, very interesting post!

    My kids always used to want Van's!

    Thanks for linking.


  16. Wow, there were some pretty crazy shoes there! I swear I had something like those floral ones in the 80's too!

  17. That is a pretty cool looking ladies shoes, its so stylish



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