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Out of the Box:
The Rise of Sneaker Culture

First North American Exhibition to Look at the History of Sneaker Culture

The Bata Shoe Museum is thrilled to announce its newest exhibition, Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture.

Out of the Box is the first exhibition in North America to showcase the history of sneaker culture and will feature over 120 sneakers representing the past 150 years. Highlighting iconic sneakers from the 20th and 21st centuries, Museum visitors will have the opportunity to explore the historical beginnings of the sneaker from its emergence in the 19th century to becoming one of the most democratic forms of footwear in the 20th century to its current position as status symbol and icon of urban culture.

Rare sneakers from the archives of adidas, Nike, Reebok, PUMA, Converse and Northampton Museums and Art Gallery, along with loans from rap legends Run DMC, sneaker guru Bobbito Garcia aka Kool Bob Love and Dee Wells from OSD will be featured. The exhibition will also include the latest designs from fashion designers, including Christian Louboutin, Pierre Hardy, Lanvin and Prada, as well as exceptional limited editions. A particular highlight is the handpicked sneakers and sketches by Nike designers Tinker Hatfield, Tobie Hatfield, Mark Smith and Eric Avar.

“Sneakers appear to be the most democratic form of footwear—they are widely available and worn by all—but in reality sneakers are part of a fascinating matrix of nuanced social meaning” said Elizabeth Semmelhack, Senior Curator at the Bata Shoe Museum and Curator of the Out of the Box exhibition. “Since the 19th century sneakers have been intimately linked to expressions of status as well as gender. I am particularly interested in how sneaker culture today is intertwined with shifts in idealized masculinity and how, what I am calling, the sneakerfication of men’s dress is defining these changes.”

The exhibition was designed by famed industrial designer Karim Rashid. A significant departure from the Bata Shoe Museum’s previous installations, the exhibit’s look is very modern in style and vibe with blasts of colour against the predominantly white environment, a design that is true to Karim’s aesthetics and vision.
“I have always been very interested in the sneaker since I am a true believer of the age of casualism” said Karim Rashid. “As a designer I also tend towards the running shoe as shoe of choice due to the great advances in technology, materials, performance, design, and style. It seems that the opportunity of experimentation is endless. So in turn, the exhibition Out of the Box showcases sneakers that all had pivotal implications on the industry, market, and society. The design of the exhibition reinforces the leaps and bounds made by the sneaker and its place within the flux, speed and charge of society. I am so pleased to work with the illustrious Bata Shoe Museum to make this exhibition a reality.”

The origin of the sneaker dates back to the middle of the 19th century when it emerged from a confluence of technological advancements and profound cultural shifts. These first sneakers were called plimsoles but by 1873, the term sneaker had been coined. By the middle of the 20th century the pursuit of bodily perfection took on nationalistic overtones and the sneaker became firmly entrenched in the wardrobe of millions. The ‘Me Generation’ of the 1970s shifted the focus of fitness from cultivating group identity to the pursuit of individual success and high-end athletic footwear became signifiers of conspicuous consumption. It was the embrace of the basketball shoe in American urban centers, however, at the end of the century that would give rise to sneaker culture and transform the sneaker into the icon that it is today.

In addition to the lenders already noted, the Bata Shoe Museum's sneaker holdings are complemented by loans from individuals and organizations, including PONY, Ewing Athletics, Mache, Phillip Nutt, Thad Jayaseelan, Sheraz Amin, Christian Louboutin, Chad Jones, Matte Babel and contemporary artists Tom Sachs/ Sperone Westwater Gallery and Shantell Martin.

Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture
will be on view until March 30, 2014.

An exciting programming and lecture series featuring influential sneaker experts has been developed and will run for the entire year that the exhibition is open.

About the Bata Shoe Museum
For every shoe there is a story. With an International collection of over 13,000 shoes and related artefacts, the Bata Shoe Museum celebrates 4,500 years of footwear history in four distinctive rotating galleries. In addition to our popular semi-permanent exhibition, 'All About Shoes', the Museum has three galleries for changing exhibitions, ensuring that each visit to the museum offers a new experience. Through the creation of its innovative exhibitions, the Museum strives to enlighten and entertain visitors of all ages. Exciting adult and children's programming activities and a unique gift shop complete the experience. A cultural gem in the heart of the city, the Bata Shoe Museum is definitely for the curious! Further information is available at www.batashoemuseum.ca

 
Jeremy Scott for Adidas Totem, 2013
American designer Jeremy Scott is known for pushing the limits of design and for finding inspiration in many things from stuffed animals to computer keyboards. For his Totem collection, Scott turned to the traditional art of the West Coast First Nations peoples. Based on traditional totem pole designs, the sneakers have not been without criticism concerning cultural misappropriation.

Photo credit: Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum. Image © 2013 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada
 
     
New Balance x Josh Wisdumb 574, 2005
The pattern on the uppers of these sneakers is the artwork of Boston artist Josh “Wisdumb” Spivack. His graffiti-like line adds a street vibe to the classic 574 New Balance sneaker. These sneakers are also known by their nickname ‘Wisdumb Icicles’ because of the artwork’s crystalline pattern.

Photo credit: Collection of Dee Wells. Image © 2013 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada
 
     
Keds Champion, 1916
In 1916, the United Rubber Company debuted the Keds brand and their first sneaker, the Champion, has been continuously available for almost one hundred years. The name for the brand was originally going to be Peds inspired by the Latin word for feet, pedes, but it was changed to Keds after it was found that Peds was already in use. Keds was the first athletic footwear brand to use the slang term ‘sneaker’ in marketing and it was thanks to the popularity of Keds that the term came into general use. This Champion sneaker, designed for women, is from the first year of the Keds brand.

Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum
 
     

Converse Gripper, late 1940s-early 1950s
These high-tops may look like Converse All Stars but they are Converse Grippers, a style popular in the late 1940s and early 1950s. These post-war sneakers were advertised as being made from sturdy Army duck cloth and their heavy ribbed white toe guards, ventilating perforations and duck-covered insoles with “comfort cushioned arches” were designed for wear to play basketball as well as general sports.

Photo credit: Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum. Image © 2013 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada

 
     
Nike x Tom Sachs NikeCraft boot prototype, 2009, Nike x Tom Sachs NikeCraft Mars Yard, 2009
American artist Tom Sachs rose to fame creating works that engaged issues of the fetishization of branding. He is a proponent of the concept of bricolage and his work emphasizes the retention of the maker’s mark in response to the perfected anonymity of mass-produced consumer goods. With these principles at the forefront of his work, his collaboration with Nike called NikeCraft offered unique challenges. Sach’s hand is clearly evident in these boot prototypes for the project. His NikeCraft Mars Yard shoes were made available in a limited edition and like these prototypes, retain a feeling of hand manufacture.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Tom Sachs and Sperone Westwater, New York and Collection of Nike Archives. Image © 2013 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada
 
     
Prada Kiltie Wingtip, 2013
This pair of brilliant green shoes is both futuristic and traditional. It is in the shape of one of the earliest athletic shoes, the golf shoe, but it features a sneaker sole and is outrageously hued. Despite the fact that this pair is a melding of two types of sporting footwear, the end result is pure fashion.

Photo credit: Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, gift of Holt Renfrew. Image © 2013 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada
 
     
Nike Foamposite, 1997
Eric Avar’s striking sneaker, the Nike Foamposite, marked the first time that an entire upper had been made of one piece of synthetic material. The sculptural quality of the shoe and its ability to mold to the wearer’s foot established the Nike Foamposite as a classic. It was the signature shoe of Penny Hardaway and only came in one colour, Dark Neon Royal Blue. Eric Avar is currently Nike’s VP of Design and Innovation.

Photo credit: Collection of Nike Archives. Image © 2013 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada
 
     
Nike Free 5.0, 2004
The concept behind Tobie Hatfield and Eric Avar’s Nike Free series of shoes was to translate the barefoot running experience into a sneaker. Legendary running coach Vin Lananna had been training his athletes using barefoot running. His motto “Less Shoe More You” became a rallying cry for the design team, especially Tobie, Senior Innovator in the Innovation Kitchen who has a great personal interest in running without footwear. The Nike Free 5.0 has an articulated mid-sole to increase the movement of the foot and a very lightweight woven upper. The 5.0 references the level of support offered by the sneaker, 0 being barefoot and 10 being fully supported.

Photo credit: Collection of Nike Archives. Image © 2013 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada
 
     
Supra Skytop II worn by K’naan, 2011
Supra came onto the sneaker scene in 2006 as a maker of fashion-forward skateboard shoes. This West Coast brand quickly became a fashion staple and numerous skateboarders and musicians took to wearing them. These Supra Skytop IIs were worn by K’naan, Toronto’s rapper and musician who rose to international acclaim with his song Wavin’ Flag.

Photo credit: Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, gift of K’naan. Image © 2013 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada
 
     
Christian Louboutin Roller-Boat, 2012
Louboutin made his name as a designer of exclusive women’s footwear. In 2011 he opened his first men’s boutique. In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily he stated, “There is a group of men that is thinking a little bit more like women...They treat shoes very much as objects, as collectors' items.” These Roller-Boats feature Louboutin’s iconic red soles and gold pony skin uppers embellished with aggressive studs.

Photo credit: Collection of Christian Louboutin. Image © 2013 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada
 
     
Fessura x Karim Rashid Karim Collection for Fessura, 2006
Karim Rashid is one of the most prolific and sought-after industrial designers today. From garbage bins to entire hotels, he brings his unique vision to every project, including the gallery design he created for this exhibition. In 2006 Rashid began designing sneakers that were produced by Fessura. This limited edition sneaker features a removable upper and was donated to the Museum by the designer. These runners were clearly designed by someone who can think ‘Out of the Box’.

Photo credit: Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, gift of Fessura and Karim Rashid. Image © 2013 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada
 
     
Pierre Hardy Poworama, 2011
Pierre Hardy launched his eponymous line of footwear for women in 1999 and for men in 2002. Among his many designs are sneakers that play with primary colors and geometric shapes. The design of this limited edition Poworama was inspired by the artwork of Roy Lichtenstein and translates the artist’s graphic appeal into wearable art.

Photo credit: Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, gift of Pierre Hardy. Image © 2013 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada


MUCH MORE .....
 
     
     
     
     
More Info: http://batashoemuseum.ca
 

 

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