Who manufactured the first sports shoes?
First SPORTS SHOES
The first SPORTS SHOES were manufactured in 1868 with canvas uppers and rubber soles by the Candee Manufacturing Co. of New Haven, Conn. and were designed for playing croquet. In the same year amateur athlete William B. Curtis had the first pair of spiked running shoes made to his own design. He wore them at the first athletics meeting in the USA, organized by the New York Athletics Club at the Empire Skating Rink on 11 November 1868. As they were the only pair, he lent them to his friends and the shoes were worn by four different competitors in seven separate events.
In Britain the first were lightweight canvas croquet shoes with a vulcanized rubber sole introduced by the New Liverpool Rubber Co. in 1876. They were dubbed ‘plimsolls’ because the Merchant Shipping Act of the same year, sponsored by Samuel Plimsoll MP, required ships to bear a so-called Plimsoll Line—the join between the canvas upper and the rubber sole of the new shoes was held to resemble this. It was in the previous year, 1875, that the American canvas shoes had first been described as ‘sneakers’.
Plimsolls and sneakers both received a tremendous boost from the rapid spread of lawn tennis on either side of the Atlantic during the late 1870s and 1880s. By 1900 they had been adopted as beachwear and within a few years had become general leisure wear, particularly for children. They were also the first shoes that was considered seemly for girls and young women to wear without stockings.