Toronto, Brooklyn, Atlanta, PERTH: a sneaker museum is coming

Featuring a complete presentation of Air Jordans I–XX3 on loan from the Kosow Sneaker Museum.

International exhibition opens Saturday 13 May | FREE
Sneaker Saturday – 10am-4pm, Saturday 13 May | FREE

This just in from AGWA:

“The Rise of Sneaker Culture is the first museum exhibition in North America, and now in Australia, to examine the sneaker’s complex and fascinating social history, from its origins in the mid-nineteenth century to its role in the present day as a status symbol of urban culture.

Originating at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto and organised by the American Federation of Arts, the international travelling exhibition has had popular showings in Toronto, Brooklyn, Atlanta and Oakland, and now heads to AGWA for its only Australian presentation.

On display are shoes from the archives of Adidas, Converse, Nike and Puma, as well as private collectors such as legendary hip-hop group Run-DMC, sneaker guru Bobbito Garcia (Kool Bob Love) and Dee Wells of Obsessive Sneaker Disorder. Also featured are sneaker collaborations between celebrities, artists and high-end fashion houses, including Rihanna, Kanye West, Sophia Chang, Tom Sachs, Damien Hirst, Prada, and Lanvin.

Highlights of the exhibition include an 1860s spiked running shoe, an original 1923 Converse All Star/Non Skid, a pair of 1936 track shoes, the original Air Force 1, and early Adidas Superstars. Also featured is a complete presentation of Air Jordans I–XX3 on loan from the Kosow Sneaker Museum.

Film footage, interactive media, photographic images, and design drawings contextualise the sneakers and explore the social history, technical innovations, fashion trends, and marketing campaigns that have shaped sneaker culture over the past two centuries.”

The exhibition is arranged by themes.
Rubber Revolution

  • Covers the 1830s to the 1920s
  • Chronicles the birth of the sneaker through a crucial phase of industrial development—the creation of vulcanized rubber—and the rise of sports and physical cultureThe Body Politic: Sneakers, Statehood, and Sporting
  • Spanning the 1920s to the 1960s
  • Explores the development of specialised sport shoes and the democratisation of the sneaker, in relation to both consumer culture and the increasingly nationalistic pursuit of bodily perfection.Sports, Stars and Status Sneakers: Fashioning Fitness in the Twentieth Century
  • Explores the intersection of celebrity and footwear and the growth of fitness culture in relation to the “Me Generation” of the 1970s and 1980s, which ushered in the age of the status sneaker.Fresh Out the Box: Sneaker Culture and Shifting Masculinities
  • Reflects on the synergy between hip-hop, basketball, and sneakers, that has fuelled popular footwear culture from the mid-1980s to the present, transforming sneakers into treasured personal possessions and mass-cultural touchstones.Innovation and Design
  • Highlights iconic sneakers created by some of today’s most forward-thinking designers, such as Eric Avar, D’Wayne Edwards, Tinker Hatfield, Tobie Hatfield, and Steven Smith.
    A catalogue is available for purchase at the AGWA shop. 

    “In conjunction with the exhibition, the American Federation of Arts partnered with Skira Rizzoli to create an extensive exhibition catalogue that includes an in-depth look at the history of sneaker culture by curator Elizabeth Semmelhack, and an introduction by Bobbito Garcia, as well as interviews, personal stories, and insights. The 24 influential contributors, who discuss how sneakers have defined their image, include former Jordan Brand Footwear Design Director D’Wayne Edwards, NBA champion Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Beastie Boys member Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz, U.S. Open tennis champion Stan Smith, Run–DMC member Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, creative designer Sophia Chang, fashion designer Jeremy Scott, Details magazine Style Director Eugene Tong, footwear designer Christian Louboutin, founding creative director of Def Jam Records Cey Adams, and contemporary artist Tom Sachs.”SNEAKER SATURDAY | FREE
    10am-5pm, Saturday 13 May
    An open house event celebrating the first day of The Rise of Sneaker Culture, including music from WA DJs and local bands, sneaker swap, skateboarding and urban dance, sneaker tours, basketball and much more. AGWA’s sneakerlier will be revealed, plus WA collector, Lee Ingram, and AGWA Curator, Robert Cook, will be in the Gallery for insights into the exhibition and sneaker culture across the world. Full line up here.GURU GUIDED TOURS | FREE
    2-3pm, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays
    Just for kicks, join one of AGWA’s Guru Guides for a short introduction to the world of sneakers.
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