What are Sneakers?

The term sneakers can refer to many forms of athletic shoes with rubber soles. It may not apply specifically to certain types of athletic shoes that are designed for some applications. For instance soccer or football shoes might be called cleats instead, and some people make a distinction between sneakers and cross-trainers or running shoes. Others call most athletic shoes with rubber bottoms sneakers, daps, gym shoes, tennies, sport shoes or additional other names.

A common question about sneakers is how they got their name. When they were first mass-marketed by the Keds® company in the early 1900s, an advertising agent came up with the common title. Henry Nelson McKinney called these rubber bottom shoes sneakers because they made little noise on hard surfaces, and a person could sneak up on someone else without having his shoes heard. At the time, most shoes had hard soles and so the difference between the sound of soft-soled shoes and other shoes with hard soles must have been quite noticeable.

Keds should not be viewed as the first company to make rubber bottomed shoes. In the 1830s, plimsolls became a common beach shoe in England, and their design was taken by Keds® in the 1900s. Plimsoll may refer to a specific type of sneaker that typically features a line in the rubber right below the canvas. This line could be used to determine if feet would get wet. Standing in ocean water above the line meant that a person would have wet feet. Not all sneakers have this line, and therefore plimsolls may be placed in a category of their own, though they also may be called Keds, even if not manufactured by the company.

It may be difficult to tell what is meant by sneakers because there are so many varieties. Kids taking rigorous gym classes might be asked to provide these shoes for school, and shoe choice should be more adapted for things like running and jogging, and feature some arch support and cushioning. Plenty of semi-athletic shoes don’t have much support and really aren’t designed for more than casual walking or daywear. Keds types and brands like Converse® may not be suited to extensive activity.

Price range on sneakers is also significant with very inexpensive pairs less than $20 US Dollars (USD) and some brand names costing well over $100 USD. Greater price doesn’t necessarily mean a higher quality athletic shoe. Some shoes are made more for appearance than they are for any athletic purpose.


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