Book Review: Sneaker Obsession

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Anyone that knows me will tell you that I am perhaps the least shoe-conscious person alive. Give me a plain black trainer with no branding any day and I’ll wear them until the soles fall off. However, after reading Flammarion’s new fascinating book Sneaker Obsession, I feel like I have been re-born. I feel like a true sneaker connoisseur.

Flammarion’s Sneaker Obsession takes the reader on a fantastic journey through the history or the world’s most popular footwear. From its humble beginnings as a noiseless ‘Sneaky’ alternative to the 19th century leather sole boot, to the must have fashion accessory designed and promoted by rap stars. The sneaker has truly had a flavourful past and this new book delves deep into the development and evolution of this versatile shoe.

For sneaker novices like me, the book starts by helpfully explaining the fundamentals of the shoe. We are guided through the names for each part of the sneaker, and each of their significant purposes that have been developed over 100 years. Some that you would have never even heard of such as the ‘Dubrae’. Then the book goes on to explain that sneakers and sneaker culture has its own vocabulary including terms such as ‘Fufu’ and ‘Grail’. Both of which you will have to learn the meaning by reading the book!

Sneaker Obsession moves on to explore a topic that most people have never considered, the rich and varied history of how the modern-day sneaker, once created for convenience, became a global fascination.

This book really does have something for everyone, and I think we have the incredible versatility of the sneaker to thank for this. Not only does Sneaker Obsession explore the casual wear side of the shoe, but it also goes into the history of other classic uses. Uses such as the mass deployment of sneakers in sports like tennis, basketball, aerobics, and football. Completely revolutionising the way these sports are played.

We are then thrust into 1970s and 1980s New York City and the hip-hop music scene. The book explores how sneakers quickly became part of the culture and style of the hip-hop music and gangster rap movement, as a means of expression and creating and identity in a hostile society. Favoured by groups such as Run-DMC, sneakers have been firmly cemented in the music history books.

Scattered throughout the book are fun facts, statistics, and real-life stories of self-labelling ‘sneakerheads’. People whose lives have been shaped and changed by their love of sneakers, and in many cases, how they have managed to turn their obsession into a lucrative living. The inclusion of these stories for me is what changes this book from a mere fashion guide to an inspirational collection of testimonials on the true beauty of footwear’s greatest innovation.

Sneaker obsession is very readable and incredibly interesting. A perfect coffee table book or a great gift for anyone interested in learning about how clothing trends have helped shape history and culture.

Main photo credit: Sneakers kept in their original box are true collectors’ items. Copyright Kikikickz, All Rights Reserved from Sneaker Obsession by Kikikickz (Flammarion, 2023).

Louis Mason

Louis has always been passionate about writing and creating content, and this comes in handy in his day job as a content and marketing director in London where he is based. Over the years, Louis has written pieces for national magazines and international news outlets both digitally and in print. Louis joined the Sorted team in 2020. His main areas of interest are conducting interviews with interesting and inspiring people and writing about metropolitan life.
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