Whether you prefer to call them Sneakers,Trainers,Creps,Kicks or Plimpsoles - these days were all very image conscious of what we wear on our feet. And with such a large variety of styles, colours, shapes and brand names out there to choose from it's no wonder that Sneakers have become a must have fashion item and an essential part of today's pop culture and fashion influenced society. But with a vast amount of history behind the evolution of the sneaker, who's shoes are we exactly standing in? The405 takes an in depth look at the history and "evolution" of the sneaker. Check it out! The athletic footwear industry has progressed tremendously since the first basketball shoe was produced by Spalding in 1907. While many believe that the first basketball shoe was the famous Converse All Stars (developed in 1917), this is mistaken. This belief is easily attained simply because it was one of the highest selling sneakers of the early sneaker generation. By the early 1900s, sneakers were being produced by small rubber companies who specialized in the production of bicycle tires. At first, the market for sneakers was small and practically invisible, but after World War 1 the U.S. turned to sports and athletes as a way to demonstrate moral fiber and patriotism. The U.S. market for sneakers grew steadily as young boys lined up to buy sneakers endorsed by football player Jim Thorpe and Converse All Stars endorsed by basketball player Chuck Taylor. By the 1980s, sneakers were everywhere! Woody Allen wore them to the ballet. Led Zeppelin wore them in their 1976 documentary, and Dustin Hoffman wore them while playing reporter Carl Bernstein in the movie All the President's Men. The shoes originally developed for sports became the mainstay for most people. Nike and Reebok were among the market leaders. Newer brands went in and out of fashion and sneaker companies started shelling out major endorsements to players. One of, if not the largest, endorsements was to Chicago Bulls player Michael Jordan for a contract with Nike to make his own signature line of shoes and apparel. From then on Sneakers have become a universal fashion statement, a definition of identity and are now seen to reflect ones personality rather than just simply being a humble athletic aid. To some people it's an obsession. Much like those who are avid collectors of comics,action figures and film memorabilia etc, collecting many different styles and brands of Sneakers has also become an accepted hobby in itself. In the same way that the old saying "A girl can never have too many pairs of shoes" goes, now it seems that there are some people who can never have too many pairs of sneakers. To others however its become more of an art form with Sneaker connoisseurs everywhere starting to customize their kicks with an array of exclusive and original patterns, colours,logos and images. But this has become a lot more then just someone taking a marker pen to their trainers and writing their name. Artists have started to use the shoes to replace their sketch books and canvases, creating incredible and unfathomable custom designs that rival those seen in stores by some of the biggest names in the Sneaker Industry today. London based artists INSA takes the idea of Sneaker Art to a whole new level. Always on the move, INSA’s illustrations and graphics seem as well suited for canvas as they do street walls, women’s bodies or designer shoes. Always willing to push the envelope with provocative imagery, INSA also proves he has a heart and mind that can show up the best of them. The London artist’s career has been steadily on the rise, mostly thanks to his provocative explorations of both a combination of the female form and an apparent sneaker fetish, many of which have made even the staunchest of ladies go weak at the knees! With such a subjective fine-line between interpretation, Insa’s obsessions will always provoke strong opinions. So the next time you go out and buy yourself a pair of Sneakers, just remember the heritage that lays at your feet and the future you'll be making with every step you take. Who knows, maybe one day we'll see a sneaker with something ridiculous like, oh I don't know...3 tongues?!...Oh wait... Images courtesy of SneakerFreaker.com