Why are Sneakers Called Sneakers?

It’s hard to find people who haven’t tried out sneakers at least once in their life. Sneakers quickly became one of the most used shoes in a very short span of time, thanks to the revolutionary marketing and advertisement tactics of the sneaker brands. But, have you ever wondered why are sneakers called sneakers?

Even though most of us wear sneakers often, there are very few who know about the history and origin of the sneakers, and fewer people know why sneakers are called sneakers. 

So, we decided to answer the question “Why sneakers are called sneakers?” and we also talked about the origin and the history of modern-day sneakers. So, let’s get started, shall we?

Why Are Sneakers Called Sneakers?

If you’re wondering, “Why are sneakers called sneakers?” Then you’re at the right place. 

The term ‘sneakers’ was first coined around the late 19th century. Although some sources claim that the year was 1880 exactly, there’s no concrete evidence of that. The group to coin this term was the Boston Journal. This newspaper published an article on the tennis shoes the boys used to wear back then, and they noted how quiet the soles of these shoes were. 

If you look at it like that, you’ll understand why it was so easy to observe back then. It was a time where most people used leather shoes, and leather shoes do come with a very heavy and tough heel, which is why they are very noisy. This is especially why the tennis shoes with softer soles used to seem much sneakier. If someone had worn these, he or she would be able to sneak up on another person easily. 

However, back then, this term wasn’t used popularly. It wasn’t until 1917 that an advertising agent started using this term to promote a brand of tennis shoes. Through his campaign, thousands of people got to know this term, and it became popular. Hopefully this answers your “Why are sneakers called sneakers?” question. 


Did you know that sneakers used to be known as plimsolls before? Yes, these were called plimsolls because they looked very much like the plimsolls of a ship’s hull. People used to wear these shoes when they were visiting somewhere on vacation, and it was even used in different types of sports. 

However, as there wasn’t any proper manufacturing process for these soles, the designs were very crude, and it wasn’t even possible to distinguish between the left foot and the right foot. We’re talking about the 1870s, after all!

The revolution of these shoes began when manufacturers started using vulcanized rubber to create these shoes, which were invented way back in 1839. The first manufacturing company to manufacture sneakers on a commercial level was invented in 1886. Around the beginning of the 20th century, these shoes became quite popular. Since then, they are evolving continuously and reaching newer generations in new forms and colors. 

Spike in Demand:

As we’ve said earlier, the sneakers rose in fame at the beginning of the 20th century, and by 1917, they were being produced on a huge scale. And it was in the same year that the first converse sneakers were produced. 

At this time, the advertisement committees of the sneakers had taken a great leap by endorsing different celebrities. Converse all stars were endorsed by Chuck Taylor, and his series remains to be one of the most legendary sneakers line-ups of all time. After World War I, teenagers started buying more sneakers as there was a growing interest in different sports activities. As a result, the sales of different sneakers rose as well. 

Entrance in Olympics:

Sneakers truly rose to fame as they entered the 1936 Olympics. This Olympic game held in Berlin changed the future of sneakers completely, as it had introduced them all across the world. Unlike many modern-day products that actually offer some to no benefits, sneakers came with tons of benefits that would earn them a place in everyone’s heart and shoe rack. 

Sneakers were not only more comfortable than concurrent shoes, but they were more stylish, and they were certainly more appropriate for both sports and casual use. 

It was this Olympic in which Jesse Owen, a US runner, had bagged four golds in different running events, and he was wearing a pair of sneakers designed by none other than Adolf Dassler, the person who would later establish Adidas, one of the leading sports brands even today! He was selling more than two hundred thousand pairs each year after Owen won medals wearing his shoes. 

There were a lot of other brands that were selling sneakers, and a lot of them exist till today. However, World War II had a great impact on this business.

World War II and Later:

During World War II, the sneakers business went into recession, just like most other businesses in the world that dealt with lifestyle and sports. However, the trend of sneakers had completely changed after the end of World War II. 

The newer generations started wearing sneakers because of fashion, and not because of sports. This is why there were newer versions of these shoes that were designed for everyday use, and there were those that were designed for sports. 

As the sneakers entered the lifestyle area, their sales only increased exponentially.  This spike in sales gave birth to a lot of amazing sneaker brands that we see now, and Nike is one of them. 

As the different brands fought against each other to bring the most updated style on the market, the sneaker industry grew as a whole. It was during the 90s and 80s that we see the highest spike in sneaker usage. Everyone was wearing these, from sportsmen to musicians to students to hippies, and everyone needed sneakers. 

Present Situation:

As the demand for sneakers rose, so did their prices. We now consider buying sneakers that cost more than hundreds of dollars, and all of this credit goes to the advertisement teams of different companies. Sneakers are constantly changing to meet market demand and concurrent style. 

Hopefully, this article was able to answer, “Why are sneakers called sneakers?”. 

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