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Ada Buchholc for Quartz
STATE OF PLAY

Everything you need to know about fashion is sneakers

No item sums up modern fashion as neatly as a sneaker.

The major forces shaping so much of current dressing—the influence of sports and music, the retreat of formality and demand for comfort, the rise of synthetic materials, the blending of high and low—converge in their plush, grippy soles. These dynamics drive the sneaker business today. People keep dressing more casually, making sneakers appropriate for ever more situations. Comfort remains one of the key elements people want in their clothes and shoes. And sneakers have become bigger status symbols than ever.

Hip-hop, which has been obsessed with sneakers from its early days, now dominates music in the US and continues to expand globally, helping to spread sneakers as fashion. Streetwear, a sneaker-driven style with roots in California skate-and-surf culture and New York hip-hop, has become one of fashion’s most influential forces.

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