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I didn’t know the difference between trainers and sneakers for the longest time. A quick google search threw up many explanations. The one that made most sense was that it was a difference in the look that set them apart. A canvas-topped athletic shoe will be classified as a pair of sneakers and anything that would be designed more to the specific sport or activity would be classified as trainers. So trainers are more focused on improving the performance of the individual wearing them while sneakers are considered to be more fashionable.
It was later while I was doing my shoe making course in London that I realised that it actually has a much simpler explanation and is a cultural/ lingo difference after all. ‘’Trainers’’ is just the British English slang for sneakers. Just like ‘’kicks’’ is the slang in US. That made perfect sense. Wikipedia threw up some more slang for the Sneakers, if you care to know-
- Sandshoes, gym boots or joggers (Geordie Englishin the UK)
- Running shoes, runners or gutties (Canadian English, Australian English, Scottish Englishand Hiberno-English)
- Sneakers (North American English, Australian English and New Zealand English),
- Tennis shoes (North American Englishand Australian English),
- Gym shoes, tennies, sports shoes, sneaks, takkies (South African English and Hiberno-English),
- Rubber shoes (Philippine English)
- Canvers (Nigerian English).
I picked up these sneakers, trainers, kicks etc. (depending on where you are from) from London two years ago, way before the sneaker trend hit our shores. Stylish, branded, comfy and quite versatile. Unfortunately, in Mumbai we still did not have the sneaker culture like in the West. I’m guessing it is our tropical weather and our attire which makes sandals more wearable. But it has really caught on now with so many trendy varieties of sneakers flooding the market and the young kids now practically living in them. But the earliest adopters of this trend were definitely the Punjabi aunties up north that totally rock the salwar and sneaker combo!
Let’s go back a bit in history to know more about the evolution of the shoe style that has taken over popular culture and given birth to a new breed of sneaker lovers aptly called the ‘’sneakerheads’’. Sneakers were nicknamed ‘plimsoll’ in the 1870s and British company J.W. Foster and Sons produced the first shoes designed for running in 1895.
In America this style of footwear also became prominent at the turn of the 20th century. Adolf “Adi” Dassler began producing his own sports shoes in his mother’s kitchen in Bavaria after his return from World War I and went on to establish one of the leading athletic shoe manufacturers, Adidas.
During the 1950s, and children and teenagers began to wear sneakers as school dress codes relaxed leisure opportunities greatly expanded. During the 1990s, sneaker shoe companies perfected their fashion and marketing skills.
As of 2015, sneaker brands with global popularity include: Adidas, Air, Jordan, Asics, Brooks, Converse, DC, Dunlop, Ethletic, Feiyue, Fila, K-Swiss, Keds, Lescon, Macbeth, Merrell, Mizuno, New Balance, Nike, Onitsuka Tiger, PF Flyers, Pro-Keds, Puma, Reebok, Skechers and Vans.
Today many High-fashion designers are entering into sneaker collaborations. GQ warns that The Designer-Sneaker Uprising Is Now a Full-on Invasion! Here is a link to the Sneakerhead’s Guide to High-Fashion Designers
The brand of my sneakers here is Coach, special to me because my first ever branded bag was a Coach, gifted to me by my brother in law from an outlet mall in Florida. And as they say, one never forgets their first love or branded bag J
Coach was founded in 1941, as a family-run workshop in a loft on 34th Street in Manhattan, with six leatherworkers who made wallets and billfolds by hand. In 1946, Miles Cahn and his wife Lillian joined the company. Miles and Lillian Cahn were owners of a leather handbag manufacturing business, and were knowledgeable about leatherworks and business. They then grew the business under the stewardship of many able designers, until they sold it off in 1985. Today, Coach generates $5 billion in sales and operates stores in over 1,000 locations globally, including North America, Japan, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Korea, and Europe. In January 2015, Coach agreed to buy shoemaker, Stuart Weitzman and 2016 marks the 75th anniversary of Coach.