Sneakers Unboxed tells the story of one of the most universal design objects, bought and worn by millions of people worldwide every day. The exhibition charts the journey of sneakers, shoes originally designed for specific athletic activities. We explore how they have been adopted as a style element by youth cultures, making them, in turn, pivotal in shaping the current global industry. One that is today equally driven by design innovation and consumer demand.
Sports shoe, style statement, cult object –the sneaker is both everyday footwear and rare collector’s item. In two chapters –Style and Performance –Sneakers Unboxed will uncover the icons that have shaped global sneaker culture, examine the high-fashion reinvention of a streetwear staple and touch on the lucrative resale market that is currently valued at $2 billion. Drawing inspiration from almost every design sector, from automotive to architecture, sneaker design is a synthesis of cutting-edge technology, innovative materials and global style-consciousness. The exhibition will take visitors on a journey into the design process behind the most technically inventive sneakers.
Available Package Options
Collection and interpretation
Past and Future Venues
Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street will open at the Design Museum April 2021
Visitors will explore sneaker history with some very early models such as a Converse Big 9 from 1920 coming through to the iconic designs such as Nike Air Force 1s and Vans Eras from 1970s America to the bright sneakers of London’s dancehall scene and the Nike Air Max 95 and 97s adopted by UK Grime culture. The exhibition looks at sneakers as a global industry with a global following, from Tokyo to South Africa, with a short film, 'Just Dala' and photography by Jamel Shabazz. Visitors will encounter a series of data visualisations highlighting key statistics including the scale of production, consumption and resale figures and a charting of the cultural impact of sneaker design icons such the Nike Air Force 1.