Dapper Dan Reflects on ‘The Sole of Black Sneaker History’
This article was originally published on February 8, 2023.
It’s no secret the world of sneakers and streetwear owes much to Black culture. While there has been more representation in the industry in recent years, there’s still work to be done.
To celebrate Black History Month in February and beyond, eBay have officially kicked off ‘The Footprint’, a campaign celebrating the influence of Black culture on sneakers across generations. There’s a tangible outcome of this campaign, with sneakers being auctioned and proceeds supporting D’Wayne Edwards’ nonprofit Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design. The school provides pathways into shoe design for underrepresented young people.
The sneakers up for auction include PUMA Clydes autographed by Walt Frazier, 1970s Converse Chuck Taylors, and 1970s Nike All Court Blazer Lows. Later additions include, among them, the Air Jordan 1 ‘Chicago’ from 1994 and the New Balance P740 ‘Worthy Express’ (signed by James Worthy himself) are undoubtedly two of the highlights. We also have the Nike Air More Uptempo ‘Wilson Smith’, PUMA Ralph Sampson Low, Nike Cortez ‘Compton’, Avia 840 and Reebok ‘The Pump 1989’ Bringback 20th anniversary.
‘I was most excited with my major contribution of showing how sneakers went from being an embarrassment to an adoration,’ Dapper Dan told Sneaker Freaker.
‘My earliest sneaker memory was PUMA giving Clyde Frazier his own sneaker endorsement deal. The autographed pair is my favourite in the auction.’
‘The Footprint’ also sees Dapper Dan’s contemporaries, which include Edwards, Aleali May and Frank Cooke, flying the flag for ‘The Sole of Black Sneaker History’.
‘It was like harnessing time and emotion in the still of one moment, seeing and hearing their stories,’ said Dapper Dan. ‘My advice to the next generation of people joining the fashion and footwear fields is to be a guide for the culture, do not dictate where it should go. There may be a conflict between what you think and what the culture wants.’
‘The sneaker industry can create a larger platform to tell stories about the contributions of black culture to American society. Consumers can continue to elevate black voices in the fashion and footwear world by supporting brands that have a vigorous program that includes diversity and inclusion.’
To shop the auction, visit eBay’s ‘The Footprint’. Bidding continues throughout February and March on continually updated lots.
In the meantime, check out the kit Wales Bonner designed for the Jamaican national football team.