Places+Faces Celebrate The Sneaker Phenomenon

by SHOWstudio on 3 August 2021

A new exhibition explores how the humble trainer achieved iconic cultural status. The British brand Places+Faces have created a line of t-shirts and hoodies to mark the occasion.

A new exhibition explores how the humble trainer achieved iconic cultural status. The British brand Places+Faces have created a line of t-shirts and hoodies to mark the occasion.

The sneaker has proven to be a revolutionising force in fashion. Replacing the heel as fashion's go to, from Kim Jones's Dior Air Jordan to Samuel Ross' Converse to Kiko Kostadinov's Asics Gel Lyte, contemporary fashion and trainers go hand in hand, with designers today regularly reimagining shoe models initially made with athletic performance in mind. Sport, celebrity, status and subculture coalesce when it comes to the realm of the sneaker. The Design Museum's latest exhibition Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street explores the diverse history of the object, and the London gallery have teamed up with Places+Faces and StockX to launch a collection to accompany the show.

Curated by Ligaya Salazar, the exhibition tracks the history of the trainer and its technological and cultural advancements. Covering trainer-wearing icons and designers such as Michael Jordan and Kanye West, the show also features contemporary trainer designers and explores the sneaker's 'high-fashion reinvention', looking to brands such as Balenciaga, - where Demna Gvasalia created the influential the 'Triple S' an 'Speed' trainers - Stella McCartney's sustainable adidas Stan Smiths, and the world’s first biologically active shoes developed by MIT Design Lab and Biorealize for Puma. Also featuring a shoe-making robot, interviews and graphic design work, the show is a 360 take on how sneakers acquired such highly valued cultural status.

'A footwear staple for style, performance and comfort wear, Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street reveals the role young people from diverse backgrounds have played in making individual sneakers into style icons and in driving an industry now worth billions. The exhibition also gives behind-the-scenes insight into new upcycling and sustainable design practices, unseen prototypes predicting the future of performance design, and streetwear and fashion collaborations that changed the face of the industry', said Salazar in a statement.

The British brand Places+Faces was first launched in 2013 by Imran Ciesay and Solomon Boyede as a photography hub for Ciesay's backstage photographs at hip-hop shows - just like the sneaker, they're rooted in underground scenes and subculture. Soon the duo were creating zines and putting on club nights, with logo hoodies and merchandise proving to be a sell out. Since, they've collaborated with brands such as GUESS, and release collections in limited drops. Available for pre-release from resale hub StockX's direct-to-consumer platform DropX on Tuesday 3 August, the new line of t-shirts, hoodies and bottoms created for the Design Museum will be available to buy later this month. Styled in a campaign with trainers from the exhibition, including Virgil Abloh's now iconic blue, white and orange Nike Air Jordan 'UNC' design, the apparel is clean cut and minimal, with both of the collaborator's logos printed on the right breast in cobalt blue.

Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street runs until Sunday 24 October, 2021. Buy tickets here.



Video Essay: Trainers

03 September 2015
Adidas consultant Gary Aspden provides a case study on the cultural history of the trainer using the Stan Smith as a springboard for his analysis.
Live Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion: OFF-WHITE S/S 20 Menswear

19 June 2019
Guest chair Nathalie Khan is joined by Hunter Wolff, Anthon Raimund, Will Bond, Molly Sellars and Nini Barbakadze to discuss the OFF-WHITE S/S 20 menswear collection.

Kim Jones On Designing The Dior Air Jordan 1

08 July 2020
A short documentary reveals the design process behind creating the ultimate trainer collaboration.
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