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You are here: Out & About Art The story of the trainer

The story of the trainer

‘Sport to Street’ follows the lifespan of the training shoe, from its early beginnings as a soft-soled tennis shoe worn by Henry VIII to the iconic footwear of choice that it has become today.
Northampton is home to one of the world’s most famous shoe collections and has the oldest known running shoe worn in the early 1860s by the then Lord Spencer.
Sport to Street looks at the rise of rubber-soled footwear for sports in the 19th century and the early sneakers manufactured by legendary US companies Converse and Keds.   By the 1970s trainers were still predominantly worn by sportsmen and women for their comfort and performance-enhancing design.  This only started to change with the craze for aerobics, health and fitness and improved trainer technology that helped move them away from being simply practical items to footwear that makes a fashion statement.
The exhibition, which features leading brands including Adidas, Nike, Puma, Reebok and New Balance, delves into the relationship between brands and sub cultures as well as brands and celebrities.
It is part of a wider trainer project paid for by the Heritage Lottery Collecting Cultures fund to enhance collections in a specific field.
Rebecca Shawcross, Northampton Borough Council museum’s resident shoe expert, said: "The story of the rise of the trainer from its humble beginnings as a simple sports shoe to its status today as one of the coolest items of footwear is fascinating.  We are lucky to have what is fast becoming the best trainer collection in the world, and this is the first time we have ever showcased so many in one place at one time.”
Sport to Street will be showing at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery from 15 January to 3 July 2011.  Opening times are Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday 2pm to 5pm.  Admission is free.