Many purists (including myself) describe hip-hop as a culture – one full of prominent (era and regionally specific) slang, dances and fashion elements that almost serve(d) as a dress code, for lack of a better term. When hip-hop was in it’s commercial infancy, there were a number of iconic footwear must-haves that defined a generation and made a mint along the way. Unfortunately, they weren’t all J’s, Air Force Ones and Adidas shelltoe sneakers. Many brands who were on top dropped like a bag of bricks – and a few of them for obscure reasons. We revisit a couple of them after the jump. We also found some great ice fishing boots for the outdoor enthusiast.
British Knights were so dope! Endorsed by athletes like Dominique Wilkins, they appeared in high profile hip-hop videos and even had commercials with Hammer. They had a great run! So why did they taper off in popularity?
In the early 1990s the Crips street gang wore the shoes and took the “BK” logo to indicate “Blood Killer” (allegedly). This led to many schools and universities banning the shoes from being worn – a huge blow. This, along with the changing landscape and fickle nature of the hip hop culture all contributed to the brand’s demise.
BK’s made a comeback back in 2008, and you can still cop releases of the classic sneaks online and in fine sneaker retailers on your block.
Troop Sport was a go-to urban brand in the 80’s – the were worn by the likes of LL Cool J, and 3rd Bass. They were doing well until an ugly rumor began to surface. It was said that the Ku Klux Klan owned the company and that ‘Troop’ was actually an acronym for ‘To Rule Over Oppressed People’. It was also said that if you cut open the lining of a jacket, a message read; “Thank you ni**er for making us rich”. Claims were made that coded messages were also integrated into the tread of their sneakers. Sounds stupid right?
For a young company whose main market was African American and Latino youth, these accusations were particularly devastating. It didn’t seem to matter that the company’s founders were not “white” themselves – they were Jewish and Korean. With sales virtually, non-existant, the company eventually went bankrupt. Of course the rumors weren’t true.
Last we heard, rapper Nelly was reviving the brand.
For most of the 1988-89 season, Parrick Ewing wore an unbranded white shoe –toward the end of the season, Ewing, in partnership with Pony founder Roberto Mueller, unveiled the Ewing Athletics brand. They made approximately $100 million that year.
The iconic 33 Hi sneaker was worn by anyone who was anyone at the time. The company released over 20 sneakers before folding in 1996. Reasons for the closure included the changing marketplace, which saw the rise of sneaker alternatives such as the Timbaland Boot. The company was relaunched in 2008 and the sneakers are available at select retailers.
Which iconic brands do you remember and miss? Tweet us and let us know!
— Riley Wallace