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They are also known as trainers (British English), sandshoes, gym boots or joggers (Australian English), running shoes, runners or gutties (Canadian English, Australian English, Hiberno-English), sneakers, tennis shoes (North American English, Australian English), gym shoes, tennies, sports shoes, sneaks, tackies (South African English and Hiberno-English), rubber shoes (Philippine English) or canvers (Nigerian English).
The British English term "trainer" derives from "training shoe." There is evidence that this usage of "trainer" originated as a genericized tradename for a make of training shoe made in 1968 by Gola.
Plimsolls (English English) are indoor athletic shoes, and are also called sneakers in American English and daps in Welsh English. The word "sneaker" is often attributed to Henry Nelson McKinney, an advertising agent for N. W. Ayer & Son, who, in 1917, coined the term because the rubber sole made the shoe stealthy. However, the word was in use at least as early as 1887, as the Boston Journ made reference to "sneakers" as "the name boys give to tennis shoes."
While many believe that the first basketball shoe was the famous Converse All Stars (developed in 1917), this is mistaken. The Spalding company produced shoes specifically for the game of basketball as early as 1907.
By the early 1900s, sneakers were being produced by small rubber companies, who specialized in the production of bicycle tires. U.S. Rubber, introduced Keds in 1916, about the same time that Converse was marketing its All Star. Other companies, including B.F. Goodrich and Spalding Co., were producing tennis shoes and smaller family-owned companies were manufacturing early cleated shoes. At first, the market for sneakers was small and practically invisible, but after World War I, the U.S. turned to sports and athletes as a way to demonstrate moral fiber and patriotism. The U.S. market for sneakers grew steadily as young boys lined up to buy sneakers endorsed by football player Jim Thorpe and Converse All Stars endorsed by basketball player Chuck Taylor.
As the 1920s and 1930s approached, these companies added traction, and also started marketing them for different sports. A huge breakthrough of this time was the separation of designs for men and women. At this time, sneakers were used strictly for athletic events. When the Olympics were revived, this attracted more fans not only to sports, but to sneakers as well. In 1936, a French brand by the name of Spring Court  was born as the first canvas tennis shoe featuring signature 8 ventilation channels on the vulcanized natural rubber sole.
The 1950s gave American families more leisure time, and as the baby boom started, more families chose to dress their youth in sneakers as school dress codes relaxed. Sneaker sales in the United States soared to six hundred million pairs a year in 1957, which led leather shoe makers to claim that "sneakers are bad for children's feet" to which sneaker producers replied "sneakers cure the syndrome of Inhibited Feet."
In the early 1960s, sneakers were imported to the United States from Japan, but accounted for only a small portion of the market until Nike founders Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman began importing Tiger shoes under the name Blue Ribbon Sports.
In the 1970s, sneakers led their own way as jogging quickly became popular and so did the necessity to have a pair of shoes for the occasion. Until this time, factories had been concerned with high production, but now the companies started to market their products as a lifestyle purpose. Soon there were shoes for football, jogging, basketball, running—every sport had its own shoe. This was made possible by podiatrist development of athletic shoe technology.
By the 1980s, sneakers were everywhere; Woody Allen wore them to the ballet, Led Zeppelin wore them in their 1976 documentary, and Dustin Hoffman wore them while playing reporter Carl Bernstein in the movie All the President's Men. The shoes originally developed for sports became the mainstay for most people. Nike and Reebok were among the market leaders. Newer brands went in and out of fashion, and sneaker companies started shelling out major endorsements to players. One of, if not the largest, endorsements was to Chicago player Michael Jordan, for a contract with Nike to make his own signature line of shoes and apparel.
During the 1990s, shoe companies perfected their fashion and marketing skills. Sports endorsements grew larger and marketing budgets went through the roof. Sneakers became a fashion statement, and definition of identity and personality rather than humble athletic aids. Athletic shoes are also often worn by children to school.
Major brands of athletic shoes are: Adidas, Anta, ASICS, BATA, Converse, DC Shoes, Dunlop, Fila, Globe, Gola, Heelys, Jordans, K-Swiss, Keds, Keen, Lacoste, Li Ning, Lonsdale, Mizuno, New Balance, Nike, PF Flyers, Puma, Reebok, Saucony, Skechers, Sperry Top-Sider, Starbury, UK Gear, Vans
Use in sports 
The term athletic shoes is typically used for running in a marathon or half marathon, basketball, and tennis (amongst others) but tends to exclude shoes for sports played on grass such as association football and rugby football, which are generally known as "Studs," or in North America as cleats.
Attributes of an athletic shoe include a flexible sole, appropriate tread for the function, and ability to absorb impact. As the industry and designs have expanded, the term "athletic shoes" is based more on the design of the bottom of the shoe than the aesthetics of the top of the shoe. Today's designs include sandals, Mary Janes, and even elevated styles suitable for running, dancing, and jumping.
The shoes themselves are made of flexible compounds, typically featuring a sole made of dense rubber. While the original design was basic, manufacturers have since tailored athletic shoes for the different purposes that they can be used for. A specific example of this is the spiked shoe developed for track running. Many of these shoes are made up to a very large size because of athletes with large feet.
High-end marathon running shoes will often come in different shapes suited to different foot types, gait etc. Generally, these shoes are divided into neutral, overpronation and underpronation (supination) running shoes to fit the respective foot strike of the runners. As running shoes become more advanced, amateur joggers, as well as marathon runners, are beginning to purchase shoes based on their running style and foot arch. This is often important for injury prevention, as well as to increase running efficiency. There are a variety of specialized shoes designed for specific uses:
- Racing flats
- Track shoe
- Skate shoes
- Climbing shoe
- Approach shoe
- Wrestling shoes
- Football boot
- Dance Shoe
- High-tops cover the ankle.
- Low-tops do not cover the ankle.
- Mid-cut are in-between high-tops and low-tops.
- Sneaker boots extend to the calf.
Sneakers or canvas shoes are casual athletic shoes.
Sneaker collectors, called "Sneakerheads", use sneakers as fashionable items. Casual sneakers like the Air Force One (Nike) or Superstar (Adidas) have become icons in today's pop culture. Artistically-modified sneakers can sell for upwards of $500. In more recent years, the classic shoe Nike Dunk has come to the attention of sneakerheads. During the release of these shoes people often line up several hours before the shops open, patiently waiting to get their hands on the shoes. Artistically modified sneakers can sell for up to $500 depending on their popularity. The opening day cost for these shoes can range from USD $60–300.
- Pettman, Charles (1913). Africanderisms; a glossary of South African colloquial words and phrases and of place and other names. p. 491.
- "Programmes - Categorised as Factual: History". BBC. Retrieved 2011-06-29.
- Pribut, Stephen M. "A Sneaker Odyssey." Dr. Stephen M. Pribut's Sport Pages. 2002. Web. 23 June 2010.
- Marius Bakken. "Fitting Your Running Shoes to Your Feet". Retrieved 2009-04-24.
Further reading 
- Smith, Ian. "Do the Shoes Fit?" Time; 09/27/99, Vol. 154 Issue 13, p. 111
- Globus, Sheila. "What's Your Athletic Shoe IQ?" Current Health 2; Sep2002, Vol. 29 Issue 1, p12
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Athletic shoes|
- BBC Sport — "The history of running shoes"
- running shoe in the Visual Dictionary at Merriam-Webster.com
- "2002: A Sneaker Odyssey"
- "The History of Shoes"
- "The painful truth about trainers: Are running shoes a waste of money?"