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Sneakers/Trainers

  • By: Peter McNeil & Roger Leong
  • In: Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture
  • Edited by: Dale Southerton
  • Subject:Sociology of Consumption, Consumer Psychology, Consumer Culture

Sneakers, or trainers as they are called in Britain, are shoes that are a product of particular consumer histories grounded in youth, sports, and subcultures. They are central to debates about the shifting meanings of fashion, popular culture, and consumption in the late-twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

A type of shoe that developed from sporting wear created in the late-nineteenth century, sneakers now represent vastly different spectra of class and national identities, as well as fashion mind-sets and subcultural affiliations. Generalizations about sneaker-wearers and sneaker-wearing tend to focus on complaints about lazy or casual dressing, inappropriate attire for the aging, or exploitative conditions of production. Yet this article of attire, a truly global phenomenon, is now ubiquitous and omnipresent. Something that was simply “casual wear” can ...

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