1983: Run DMC
Hip-hop was responsible for making sneakers a staple style. They were worn on the streets more for the way they looked and how well they matched clothes. Sneakers were important in the world of b-boxing because they were comfortable to dance in and became standard gear for these b-boys and b-girls. These b-boxers, who are more notably known as beatboxers and breakdancers, were all about keeping your style, most importantly sneakers, fresh and clean. They would produce rhythms, beats and sounds with their voices and was tied into breakdancers having something to move to on the streets. As a result of this street performance and style, cleaning and touching up shoes to keep them pristine was most important to gain the respect and attention on the streets. This street style, as a whole, was centered on sneakers as the main attraction.
Because the people who created and up brought the sneaker culture weren’t people of means, the importance of up keeping your sneakers in pristine condition came into play. Carrying around toothbrushes, soaking and bleaching the laces, painting the stripe etc. were all methods of giving the sneaker a new life.
“It was about taking the image of the b-boy and b-girl and letting the world know we’re a people of vision, we’re inspiration, motivation, we’re educated too. So it’s kind of a kick in the face to the people that was hating on hip-hop.”- DMC
These individuals were the template to the rap and hip-hop phenomenon we know of today. With the respect and attention they would gain on the street, the elements of their success were key to the rise and inspiration for their performances. It was during this uprising in the culture that key individuals began playing with the scope of what we know and correlate this lifestyle with today.
Now the Adidas I possess for one man is rare
myself homeboy got 50 pair
got blue and black cause I like to chill
and yellow and green when it's time to get ill
got a pair that I wear when I'm playin ball
It wasn’t set and stone yet what hip-hop was going to be, or what direction it was going in, in the early 1980s. The hip-hop, sneaker revolution all began when Darryl “DMC” McDaniels and Run had a dream of owning every color Adidas in the world because of their style and color coordination, rather than comfort. People were trying to figure out how to be true to hip-hop without commercializing it in a “pop” form. In 1983 Run-D.M.C, straight out of Queens, NY refused to conform to pop standards and decided that they were going to dress on stage the way they dressed on the streets.
Shoes without shoe-laces is one of these trends that arose from the streets as a result of felons from jail returning home and bringing the prison shoelace-less style with them. Jam Master Jay thought this style was cool, and now this prison style is now a fad.
standin on 2 Fifth St.
funky fresh and yes cold on my feet
with no shoe string in em, I did not win em
The Adidas Superstar was dead until Run D.M.C. single handedly brought the shoe back. They would tour and travel the country and see the contribution their music had on the street style elsewhere. The inspiration for the song “My Adidas” came, simply, from writing about something they genuinely loved and what was important to them.
“Adidas couldn’t even buy this much promotion we given em”- Run
They decided to invite the executives of Adidas to New York to see Run D.M.C in concert at Madison Square Garden. During the concert they asked the crowd, if they were wearing them, to hold up their pair of Adidas. Almost everyone of the 20,000 people in the crowd then held up their Adidas, while singing along with Run D.M.C. After this, Adidas led to the first-ever endorsement deal between a music act and an athletic coimpany, for $1.6 million. At this time, big corporations began to find trust and luck in this up and coming hip-hop revolution.
“Because the music, the image, the concepts was so powerful, if they’re going to wear Adidas because we say it’s cool, that means they would drink, abuse, fight because of this. We got nervous. I always remember Jay said, ‘Yo, this hip-hop stuff is really powerful, mean. We gotta watch what we say and what we present to the world.’”- Run D.M.C
Run D.M.C's deal with Adidas was the first non-athletic deal with a sneaker endorsement. They legitimzied the company, starting the wave of integrating and collaborating athletic companies with the hip-hop community. This song proved that rap was not just a form of music, but a lifestyle. It was one of the first songs where MC's rapped about their clothing choices, and showed that they have a strong influence on trends and change.