Soled Out: The Golden Age of Sneaker Advertising
by Stephen Garner

A new book published by Phaidon is highlighting a wide range of vintage sneaker advertisements.

Called Soled Out: The Golden Age of Sneaker Advertising, the new 720-page book is a compilation of nearly 900 vintage print advertisements sourced from 1970 to 2000. It was lovingly written and compiled by Simon Wood aka ‘Woody’, founder of the legendary Sneaker Freaker magazine.

Featuring superstar athletes and cultural icons such as Andre Agassi, Paula Abdul, Bugs Bunny, Bo Jackson, Michael Jordan, MC Hammer, Hulk Hogan, Shaquille O’Neal, and Sigourney Weaver, every page is laced with unforgettable graphics and outrageous trash talk. This is the sneaker business expressed in its own muscular image and grandiose prose.

Soled Out: The Golden Age of Sneaker Advertising

The book opens with a personal preface, followed by an analysis of key moments that include the embrace of pseudo-science, the auto-erotic obsession, the ubiquity of the Futura typeface, and the evolution of the cross-trainer craze. Thirteen brand-focused chapters covering all the major players are organized by sporting category. The core material is sourced from the 1970s to the year 2000, except the Converse chapter which documents the arrival of the iconic All-Star basketball shoe in the 1930s. Fans of sports, footwear, fashion, illustration, photography and graphic design will enjoy the book’s punchy narrative, insider stories, and historical revelations.

Soled Out serves also as an ode to the unapologetic, rule-breaking, whip-smart advertising talents that shaped a global industry and influenced generations of sneakerheads and sports enthusiasts. From the scientific to the political – and the hilariously risqué – no subject was off-limits. The melodramatic hyperbole and ultra-competitive banter intensified as brands went toe-to-toe throughout the 1990s. ‘Just Do It’ might be the world’s most renowned three-word catchphrase, but that didn’t stop Asics from baiting Nike with ‘Serious Runners Don’t Put on Airs’ and ‘Just Doing It Doesn’t Do it’, while Reebok fired back with ‘Pump up and Air out’. The psychological boundaries between the brands were clearly defined by the tone of their advertising.

Soled Out: The Golden Age of Sneaker Advertising is scheduled to be released by Phaidon on October 20th for $69.95.

Soled Out: The Golden Age of Sneaker Advertising