While most gear from the ’80s can look like relics of the ancient past, the groundwork for today’s performance sneaker market was laid during this pinnacle decade. Shoes were specialized according to brand and type of athlete, for the first time reflecting a personality.
The jogging boom of the ’70s gave way to the mainstream running culture of the ’80s, popularizing a sport that formerly belonged to collegiate athletes and their coaches. Converse’s monopoly over basketball had ended in the previous decade and tennis’ new stars expected more of their signature plimsolls. The decade saw the first women’s specific performance shoe (the Reebok Freestyle), the beginning of Michael Jordan’s era with Nike, and the invention of most of today’s technical running technology. Let’s dive into How Performance Footwear Evolved During the ’80s.