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I have been fascinated by sneakers since I was a child in the 1980s. I have been researching and writing about their history and social significance since the early 2000s. 

The Sports Shoe: A History from Field to Fashion

Moving from the athletic field to the shopping mall, my book, The Sports Shoe, tells a fresh story of the evolution of the sports shoe against the changing landscape of society, sport, fashion, industry, and technology. It tracks the development of athletic footwear from the first Victorian tennis shoes to the adidas Superstar and the innovative technologies of Nike Air Max and beyond. Featuring newly uncovered archival material and historic images showcasing key personalities, vintage marketing and common perceptions of this hugely desirable product, it is a must-have for any sneaker collector, historian of popular culture, or anyone interested in the place of athletic footwear in our lives today.

The book is available from Bloomsbury and all good bookshops.

Praise for The Sports Shoe:

“Part of the charm of this meticulously researched and beautifully produced book is that, for many of us, our first sports shoes carry the same kind of emotional charges as our first movies or our first records.”

Times Literary Supplement

"A meticulously researched illustrated history of the sneaker from the 19th to the 21st century, The Sports Shoe traces the development of the ‘trainer’ against the changing landscape of society, sport, fashion, industry and technology. It’s a tome worthy of even the most sophisticated sneaker nerds. Every bit academic as it is expressive, The Sports Shoe is a must-read whether you’re a lifelong collector or simply fascinated by pop culture."

Sneaker Freaker


“Beautifully chronicling over 100 years of the sports shoe, this is the most intricately detailed love letter to the sneaker ever written.” 

Jason Coles, author of Golden Kicks: The Shoes that Changed Sport 

“We all wear them. How did the sports shoe become so ubiquitous? Telling the story of its rise and transformation, this is an original contribution to the study of material and popular culture.”

Frank Trentmann, Birkbeck, University of London, author of Empire of Things: How We Became a World of Consumers and Free Trade Nation: Consumption, Civil Society and Commerce in Modern Britain


“A beautifully illustrated and thoroughly researched history ... If you want to know anything about the sport shoe, you must read this book. Just do it!”

Giorgio Riello, University of Warwick, author of Cotton: The Fabric That Made the Modern World and A Foot in the Past: Consumers, Producers and Footwear in the Long Eighteenth Century

“A highly readable book of interest to anyone who has ever laced up a trainer. Lavishly illustrated, meticulously researched, and fluidly written ... a rich and surprising history of modernity.”

Marybeth Hamilton, author of In Search of the Blues


“Thomas Turner has written a necessary book on the cultural history and impact of sports shoes. This is a great read for anyone interested in how a piece of sports equipment could transcend its original purpose and become a staple of everyday life.”

Samuel Smallidge, Archivist, Converse

“Entertaining, passionate and wonderfully illustrated, this book places sports shoes within their wider social context so we can all truly appreciate their significance.”

Rebecca Shawcross, Senior Shoe Curator, Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, author of Shoes: An Illustrated History

“Extremely well-researched, wide-ranging, and engaging, this tremendous new book explores one of today's most important forms of footwear.”

Elizabeth Semmelhack, Senior Curator, Bata Shoe Museum, Canada, author of Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture and Shoes: The Meaning of Style


“This engaging story of how the sports shoe went from functional to fashionable reveals how so many of us came to long for the latest in footwear.”

Gary Cross, Penn State University, author of Consumed Nostalgia: Memory in the Age of Fast Capitalism and An All Consuming Century: Why Commercialism Won in Modern America

“Taking you on the fascinating journey of the sports shoe, this book provides sound insight into the essential relationship between form, function and innovation in design. Beyond sports shoe fans, it's a great read for anyone interested in fashion, product design, history or, frankly, anyone who has felt the liberation of wearing sports shoes in everyday life.”

Claudine Rousseau, Head of Atelier, Rapha Racing

“The rise of sports shoes is a fascinating story, told here with enthusiasm and in-depth knowledge. Whether you are a student of fashion, a sports enthusiast or a 'sneakerhead', you'll enjoy this excellent book.”

Chris Hill, Northampton University

“With his thorough scholarship and wide-ranging research, Thomas has written a definitive history of the sports shoe. This a book to be enjoyed by historians of dress, economics, and technology, as well as sport enthusiasts and sneaker aficionados alike.”

Amber Butchart, fashion historian and author, and presenter of the BBC's A Stitch in Time

“For anyone who doubted the importance of the sports shoe to contemporary fashion, Thomas Turner's comprehensive study is essential reading ... The book is not only rigorous and intellectual, but also entertaining and accessible.”

Janice Miller, Kingston University, author of Fashion and Music

The Sports Shoe - Thomas Turner JACKET I
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