Man's Patent Leather Sneakers

Designed by Rei Kawakubo, Japanese, born 1942. Worn by John Cale, Welsh, born 1942.

Made in Japan, Asia

c. 1990s

Black patent leather, white rubber

Length: 11 1/2 inches (29.2 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
125th Anniversary Acquisition. Gift from the private collection of John Cale, 2002

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Recent preoccupation with comfort and dressing down has intensified sportswear's historically strong influence on fashion. Special athletic shoes, introduced in the 1910s, became a staple of the mid-century teenage wardrobe and were worn for every occasion by late century. These two examples dress up the casual form: the classic rubber and canvas sneaker is revamped in patent leather, while the limited edition silver athletic shoes juxtapose high-tech materials with traditional, luxurious kimono or obi brocade.