WALK A MILE IN SOMEONE ELSE’S SNEAKERS

A new exhibition at MK&G Hamburg looks at the history of those most cherished of items and the end of our feet.

In 1985, the German politician Joshcka Fischer wore a pair of Nike trainers when he was sworn in as environment minister in the state government of Hesse (the central German state where you find Hamburg). A counter-cultural figure, Fischer’s footwear was seen a little protest against the stultifying norm, earning him the nickname the “tennis shoe minister”. 
 
 BORIS BECKER WINNERTENNIS SHOE IN ORIGINAL PACKAGING, LEATHER, FABRIC, POLYURETHANE FOAM SOLE. MK&G HAMBURG

The term has changed since then – the Americanism ‘sneaker’ has come to dominate – and so too has the radicalism of sporting your sport shoes. Everyone from your latest trendy CEO to Larry David-aping normcore hipsters can be seen wearing sneakers today – even if the shoes' dominance persists amongst the young, who follow developments in the latest genus of street shoes on Instagram with consumer-eyed relish.  
 
EXHIBITION VIEW, PHOTO: MICHAELA HILLE. 
 

Charting the “astonishing rise” of sneakers over the last thirty years, Sneakers. Design for Fast Feet has 120 pairs of shoes – from those owned by famous people to special editions – and hundreds of posters and print materials. So if you want to learn about the history of footwear, all the way from Samuel Plimsoll’s decision to introduce a dividing line of rubber between sole and upper in 1860, or just appreciate the colourful, gaudy, textural strangeness that is contemporary sneaker culture you should skip over and check it out. 

‘Sneakers. Design For Fast Feet’ runs at MK&G Hamburg until 28 August 2016. Admission is €12 but is cheaper if you go on Thursday after 5pm. MK&G is one minute walk from Generator Hamburg. Ask at reception how to get there.