The step is very short and despite the long levers basketball has become in recent decades a style-setting sport. With their outfits and their precious shoes, players have become true style icons. In the USA, basketball is more than just a sport, it is practically a cult. But it counts millions of followers and supporters even in Italy.
“Basketball is the only sport that tends to heaven.That is a revolution for those accustomed to always look on the ground” said player Bill Russell.
For fans of Italian basketball, the times when the legendary Olimpia Milano athletes wore red shoes with which they trod parquet floors throughout Europe with amazing results seem far away.
In 1978 the legend Dan Peterson arrived in Milan: in Bologna he won the Title, he established himself as a coach, he learned the language and conquered the heart of the movement. But he felt constrained in Bologna and when he was called to Milan, which at the time had more basketball history than Bologna (though not in its present), he did not hesitate to accept.
“For me, an American, Milan was a bit like New York.”
And it was in those years that the “Gods of the Olimpia” began to contaminate the style of Paninari-Milan, wearing sneakers at the arena on Sundays.
“In the 80s the country was constantly evolving: there was excitement and desire to do stuff, everyday-life was full of verve,” said Dino Meneghin (read his story here).
Today, global trade sees some brands stand out, and this seems absolutely clear if you pay attention to the shoes worn by athletes from around the world and in particular by the basketball players of the National Basket Association (NBA).
Each new season of the American basketball league brings, among other things, new models that are always better suited to the stars that flock basketball fans every night.
In addition to the legendary jersey, therefore, the shoes of the giants generate a real income. A fact that leads to a poignant thought is that the major manufacturers of basketball shoes have revealed that the big sales numbers must be attributed to the growing desire (by non-players, simply “fans”) to wear what champions sport on their feet.
Here, then, today’s sneaker is readjusted to the style of basketball and becomes a first class shoe in modern-man outfits.
“The worldwide spread of the product is due to the legends of this sport: Michael Jordan for example, sniffing the enormous potential of the business, has created his own brand, which sells millions and millions of shoes all over the world.”
Not everyone knows the etymology of the noun “sneakers”, which has in fact a rather funny origin: legend has it that the it was coined by N.W. Ayer & Son’s publicist Henry Nelson McKinney, because this was the first type of shoes to made no noise thanks to their rubber sole.
Wearing them you could, at your pleasure, be “stealthy” (i.e., sneaky), and vanish, sneak out without being noticed (at the time there were not yet types of shoes that usually had a rubber sole).
The great success of the sneakers (here we talked about the best 7 of the story) goes well with the progress of streetwear.
Iron baskets, worn concrete and metal nets: in America there is no neighborhood that does not have an improvised basketball court, and even in Italy the situation is evolving towards the presence of a ring at the end of the road.
“Street basketball, therefore, contaminates men’s fashion, especially in the footwear sector.”
Big brands do not focus on customers looking for shoes to play basketball, but on all others who want to use them in everyday life.
The new collections therefore blend sport-tradition and style, allowing a perfect transition from the pitch to everyday life.
The shoes are thus revisited, with a process normally used for the construction of classic men’s laces, including the addition of leather strings and maxi eyelets often in golden metal and polished finishes on the leather upper.
The stars-and-stripes street culture has come to power in Europe, especially in Italy. The roaring 1970s-1980s America is on the feet of millions of teenagers, with sneakers characterized by bright and eccentric colors.
Iconizing the main work tool of basketball giants was, without a doubt, an amazing insight. Today’s sneakers reproduce the essential style of past eras, perhaps with a total white look attracting even more attention.
Shoes are not just shoes but a piece of popular culture, and given that many of the strongest and most famous players are black, basketball sneakers have become a piece of contemporary African American culture.
“It is no coincidence that many designers decide to set their fashion shows on catwalks set up as basketball courts.”
High-top sneakers and sponge socks: an inseparable combination capable, paradoxically, of rewriting the rules of dress-code. If decades ago we had hypothesized styles like streetwear we probably would have labeled as crazy. But times have changed, and fashion too. Matching sneakers, even with an elegant dress, is no longer a gamble.