Future Now: Virtual Sneakers to Cutting-Edge Kicks


With State-Of-The-Art Technologies, Groundbreaking Materials, And Innovative Approaches, Forward-Thinking Creatives Are Pushing The Boundaries Of Footwear Design. Looking At Innovation, Sustainability, Transformative Practices, And New-Frontiers In The Virtual Realms Of Gaming, The Metaverse, And More, This Exhibition Expands The Possibilities Of What Art Can Be, Presenting The Future Right At Our Feet.

From 3d Printed Concept Shoes To Virtual Sneakers, The Sneakers And Shoes On View In These Galleries Reflect The Work Of Artists, Engineers, Fashion Industry Leaders, Designers, Architects, Innovators And Xr Visionaries Who Dare To Think Differently. Together These Innovators—Some Of Them Right Here In Portland— Are Broadening The Scope Of What’s Possible When We Think Of The Future Of Design.

Future Now: Virtual Sneakers To Cutting-Edge Kicks Is Co-Organized By The American Federation Of Arts And The Bata Shoe Museum. The Exhibition Is Curated By Elizabeth Semmelhack, Director And Senior Curator At The Bata Shoe Museum, And Curated And Expanded For The Portland Art Museum By Amy Dotson, Director Of Pam Cut And Curator Of Film And New Media.

Exhibition Design By Osmose Design


In 2013, Rem D. Koolhaas And Renowned Architect Zaha Hadid Collaborated On The Zaha Nova. The Complicated Design Included A Platform And Heel Wedges Made Of Vacuum-Cast Fiberglass. The Seamless Uppers Were Rotation Molded In Vinyl That Was Then Chromed. The Zaha Nova Was The First Shoe To Ever Be Made Using Rotational Molding.
Zaha Hadid X United Nude, Zaha Nova, 2013. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2022.0012.

Innovation: On The Cutting Edge

Innovation Has Long Driven Footwear Design And Production, With Each New Material And Process Addressing Shifting Needs And Stoking New Desires. Today, Future-Thinking Creators Are Using Cutting-Edge Technologies To Push Their Designs Forward In Startling New Ways, From Responsive Smart Shoes To 3d-Printed Heels.


In 2016, Nike-Sponsored Runners Began Breaking Speed Records Wearing Prototypes Of The Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%. Ultra-Lightweight And Designed With A Full-Length Curved Carbon-Fiber Plate In The Midsole That Retained Energy Like A Spring, The Shoe Boosted Running Performance By Up To 4.2 Percent. Concerns Were Brought To The International Governing Body For Sports, World Athletics, That The Advantages Offered By The Vaporfly 4% Were Equivalent To “Mechanical Doping,” But It Was Never Banned. Many Iterations, Including The Zoomx Vaporfly Next% 2, Have Since Been Released.
Nike, Zoomx Vaporfly Next% 2, 2021. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2022.0003.


In The 1990s, Nike’s Eric Avar Began Exploring The Possibility Of Making Uppers Out Of Foam. The Undulating Design Of The Revolutionary Foamposite, Inspired In Part By Beetle Exoskeletons, Was Seen As Too Futuristic, So The Molds Were Destroyed. However, It Went On To Be One Of Nike’s Most Iconic Shoes.
Nike, Foamposite 20th Anniversary, 2007. Designed By Eric Avar. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2021.0049.

Think Tank

The Philosophy Of Nike’s Ispa Lab Is In Its Name: Improvise. Scavenge. Protect. Adapt. Its Small Team Of Creatives Are Encouraged To Scour Past Innovations And Reclaim Discarded Material To Design Futuristic Footwear That Meets The Needs Of City Dwellers And Achieves A Circular Economy. Ispa’s Road Warrior Borrows Innovations From Running, Basketball, Training, And Outdoor Footwear To Create A Shoe For Future Urban Environments. The Split-Toe Was Designed To Allow For A “Barefoot Stance.”
Nike Ispa, Road Warrior, 2020. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2021.0051.


Benoit Méléard Challenges The Accepted Architecture Of Shoes By Consistently Pushing The Envelope Of What A High-Fashion Shoe Can Be.  Using The Language Of Geometry, His Carefully Cantilevered Heels And Unexpected Uppers Create Striking Silhouettes That Give His Designs A Futuristic Appeal.
Benoit Méléard, “O” Collection Boots, 2000. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Gift Of Benoit Meleard, Bsm 2020.0027.

Rapid Prototyping

Other Innovations Focus More On The Production Process Itself. Fctry Lab Was Started By Renowned Sneaker Designer Omar Bailey, The Former Head Of Yeezy Innovation Lab, And His Partner Abhishek Som, As A Black-Led Venture To Democratize Sneaker Production. Fctry Lab Seeks To Empower New And Established Designers By Offering Rapid Prototyping In The United States Rather Than Offshore, Substantially Reducing Turnaround Time From 18 Months To  3 Months. The Knight Rnr, A Sleek Futuristic Mule, Was The Company’s First Shoe.
Fctry Lab, Knight Rnr V1.0, 2023. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm, 2023.0023.


Today, Nike Offers A Range Of Auto-Lacing Shoes, Including The Adapt Bb Mag. The Lacing Is Easily Calibrated By Using An App Or By Making The Adjustments Using The Buttons On The Outsole. The Batteries Last Up To Twenty-One Days And Are Recharged Using An Induction Charging Pad.
Nike, Adapt Bb Mag, 2015. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2021.0050.


In 1991, Puma Launched The Disc Xs 7000. It Featured An Internal System Of Nylon Cords That Could Be Manually Tightened Using A Small Ratcheting Disc. A Quick-Release Button Made Removing The Shoes Simple. The Innovation Was Celebrated As The Future Of Footwear. In 2021, Puma Re Released The Original Model In Celebration Of Its Thirtieth Anniversary.
Puma, Disc Xs 7000 Og, 2021. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2021.0045.

Robot Made

Robot Workers Have Long Been Integral To Visions Of The Future. Adidas Made Them A Reality When The Company Created Its First Speedfactory In 2015. The First Shoe Created By This Robot-Dominated Factory Was The Futurecraft Mfg (Made For Germany), A High-Performance Running Shoe Launched In 2016. The Upper Was Made Of Almost Zero-Waste Primeknit Technology And Featured “Patches” In Areas Requiring The Greatest Support. The Boost Sole Was Fitted With An Exposed Torsion Bar To Further Improve Flexibility.
Adidas, Futurecraft Mfg, 2016. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2021.0047.

Innovation: Smart Shoes

Technological Strides Were Being Made As Computers Were Pressed Into Service To Improve Both Athletic Performance And Sneaker Production. Adidas Was At The Forefront Of These Advances With Its Revolutionary Micropacer, Released In 1984. The Sneaker Featured A Microsensor In The Left Toe That Could Record Distance, Running Pace, And Caloric Output. The Information Appeared On A Screen On The Lace Cover Of The Left Shoe.

Sustainable: Pushing Footwear Forward

Over Twenty Billion Pairs Of Shoes Are Manufactured Globally Each Year, And Most Are Thrown Away Almost As Quickly As They Are Used. The Environmental Impact Of Fast Fashion Has Inspired Many Creators To Look For More Sustainable Materials And Production Methods. The Hope Is To Push The Footwear Industry Toward A More Circular Economy That Reduces Waste And Reuses Materials.

By A Thread

One Of The Most Wasteful Steps In Shoemaking Is Clicking—The Cutting Out Of The Shoe Uppers And Soles. To Limit This Waste, Knitted Uppers Emerged In The Mid-2000s. Nike’s Flyknit Technology, Unveiled In February Of 2012, Was Innovated To Make Lightweight, Sock-Like Running Shoes. The Process Of Machine Knitting Is So Carefully Engineered That Parts Of The Upper Can Be Reinforced For Strength Without Adding Additional Material. The First Iteration Was The Flyknit Racer, Which Debuted At The 2012 London Summer Olympics.
Nike, Flyknit One, 2013. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm S13.0019.

Sustainable: The Power Of Collaboration

“We Had An Opportunity And Responsibility As Designers To Create An Object That Would Tell An Important Story.” —Alexander Taylor X Adidas

In 2015, The Charity Parley For The Oceans Designer Alexander Taylor And Adidas Collaborated With Green Chemists, Machine Engineers, Designers, And Material Scientists To Create A Prototype Shoe To Present At The United Nations On Earth Day.

The Prototype Featured An Upper Made From Recycled Ocean Waste And Illegal Deep-Sea Gill Nets, Illustrating A Collaborative Commitment To Protecting And Conserving The Oceans.  It Is Estimated That Lost And Discarded Gill Nets Are Responsible For More Than 100,000 Marine Mammal Deaths Every Year. They Are The Silent Killers Of The Sea, Wreaking Havoc On Underwater Habitats And Destroying Delicate Marine Ecosystems.

Sustainable: Pushing Footwear Forward

Over Twenty Billion Pairs Of Shoes Are Manufactured Globally Each Year, And Most Are Thrown Away Almost As Quickly As They Are Used. The Environmental Impact Of Fast Fashion Has Inspired Many Creators To Look For More Sustainable Materials And Production Methods. The Hope Is To Push The Footwear Industry Toward A More Circular Economy That Reduces Waste And Reuses Materials.


The Ultraboost Uncaged For The Oceans Was Knit Using Thread Created Out Of Discarded Gill Nets Reclaimed From The Ocean. The Collaboration Grew Out Of A Desire To Bring Awareness To The Problem Of Ocean Plastics. Given Only Six Days To Create The Prototype Sneaker, Designer Alexander Taylor Faced A Number Of Challenges, But With The Help Of An International Team He Completed It In Time To Be Presented At The United Nations In 2015, Where Adidas Declared Its Commitment To Removing Virgin Plastics From All Production.
Alexander Taylor For Adidas X Parley For The Oceans, Ultraboost Uncaged For The Oceans, 2015. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2022.0007.


Vær Is A Copenhagen-Based Company That Makes Upcycled Sneakers Using Recycled Jeans And Workwear. Vær Insoles Are Plant-Based And Laces Are Recycled Cotton. In Addition, The Soles Are Made From 70% Recycled Natural Rubber And 30% Virgin Rubber. The Company Also Accepts Worn Sneakers Whose Soles Can Be Recycled Into New Ones. This 2021 Sneaker, Appropriately Named Phoenix, Was Made At The Company’s Portuguese Factory.
Vær, Phoenix, 2021. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2021.0018.

Mushroom Leather

Mushroom Leather Has Recently Emerged As A Viable Material For Shoemaking. This Pair Of Sneakers By Nat-2 Was Made Using “Leather” Created Out Of The Middle Layer Of Tinder Sponge, Fomes Fomentarius, Which Grows On Dead Or Weak Birch And Beech Trees. The Natural Variations Of Color, Tone, And Texture Allow The Material To Look And Feel Like Real Leather.
Zvnder X Nat-2, Fungi, 2022. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2022.0002.

Made To Order
The Tokyo-Based Company Magarimono Creates Fashion-Forward Made-To-Order 3d Printed Shoes With The Aim Of Limiting Waste And Allowing For Constant Improvement. Despite Being Computer-Generated, Each Pair Is Hand Assembled, Blending The Idiosyncrasies Of Hand-Craftsmanship With Tech Fabrication.
Magarimono Original Cl-Ac White, 2023. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2023.0061.


Sébastien Kopp And François-Ghislain Morillion Chose The Company Name Veja, Meaning “Look” In Portuguese, To Emphasize The Transparency Of Their Business. Veja Does Not Spend Money On Advertising, Prioritizing Higher Prices For Materials And Labor. In 2017, Fashion Designer Rick Owens Reached Out To Veja To Collaborate. Their Ensuing Collaboration, The 2020 Vegan Venturi, Has A Leather-Like Upper Made From Corn Waste And A Sole Made From Recycled Plastic, And Wild, Ethically Harvested Natural Rubber.
Rick Owens X Veja, Venturi, 2020. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2021.0042.

Seeding The Future

In 2020, Puma Collaborated With Graduates Of London’s World-Renowned Fashion And Design School Central Saint Martins To Create A Capsule Collection Dedicated To Water Conservation. The Seafaring-Inspired Designs Used Low-Water Dyeing And Digital Printing To Limit Water Consumption. The Footwear Was Made Using Recycled Mesh And Undyed, Ethically-Grown Cotton Canvas. This Collaboration Demonstrated More Than Just Concern For The Future Of The Environment — It Was Also A Proclamation Of Puma’s Investment In The Next Generation Of Designers.
Central Saint Martins X Puma, Kyron For The Love Of Water, 2020. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2021.0048.


Designer Stella Mccartney Has Made Sustainable And Cruelty-Free Fashion Both A Personal And Professional Mission. In 2005, She Became The First High-Fashion Designer To Sign With Adidas’s Sports-Performance Division And Brought This Ethos To The Collaboration. In An Effort To Be More Sustainable, Mccartney’s 2021 Take On The Adidas Ultraboost 21 Incorporates Primegreen Knit Made From 50% Recycled Polyester.
Stella Mccartney X Adidas, Ultraboost 21, 2021. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2021.0022.

All Natural

11.11 / Eleven Eleven Was Founded By Mia Morikawa And Shani Himanshu To Promote Ethical Slow-Made Fashion. Working With Artisans Across India, 11.11 / Eleven Eleven Develops Footwear And Clothing That Supports Heritage Techniques, Including Spinning, Weaving, Dyeing, And Sewing By Hand, As A Way Of Keeping Crafts Alive And Minimizing The Carbon Footprint Of Its Products. The Cotton Used Is Indigenous To India And The Dyes Are  All Natural, In Keeping With The Company’s Seed-To-Stitch Philosophy. This Pair Of Mules Was Crafted From Handspun And Handwoven Cotton Dyed Ochre Yellow Using Pomegranate Skin.
11.11/ Eleven Eleven, Slip-On, 2020. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2020.0084.


F_wd, Pronounced “Forward,” Was Founded In 2019 As A Streetwear Brand Dedicated To Sleek Sustainability. Its First Offerings, Including The Xp4_mavy Sneaker, Were Created By The Shoe Designer Raphael Young, Whose Futuristic Designs Were Peta (People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals) Approved And Made Of Recycled And Recyclable Materials.
F_wd, Xp4_mavy, 2021. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2021.0043.


Helen Kirkum, One Of The Few Women Working In The Sneaker Space, Is A Pioneer In Deconstructing, Reusing, And Reconstructing Sneakers With The Goal Of Reducing Waste. The Palimpsest Sneaker 001 Features Parts From Numerous Brands Reconfigured Into A One-Of-A-Kind “Recycled” Sneaker.
Helen Kirkum, Palimpsest Sneaker 001, 2023. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2023.0055.

Sustainable: Each One Is Unique

Designer Helen Kirkum’s Palimpsest Sneakers Debuted In 2022. “My Goal Has Always Been To Create An Easy-To-Wear, Everyday Sneaker With A Rich Material Story Behind It,” Says Kirkum. “To Create Something That We Recognize But Are Not Used To Seeing. The Stories Of The Materials Are Deeply Ingrained Within Each Pair, With Layers Of Memories And Textures. As Always With Our Studio, I Wanted To Create The Feeling Of Bespokeness, So Each One Is Still Unique.”

“I Love The Word Palimpsest, Meaning Something Reused Or Altered But Still Bearing Visible Traces Of Its Earlier Form. I Love The Idea That We’re Rewriting Stories And Memories Of All The Recycled Pairs Through Our Creations.”


In 2020, Nike Created Space Hippies After Discussions Arose About How Footwear Would Have To Be Made On Resource-Limited Planets Such As Mars. Each Model Uses Yarn Made Of 85% To 90% Recycled Material, Midsoles Made From Surplus Zoomx Foam, And Crater Foam Outsoles That Incorporate Nike Grind Recycled Material.  Their Handmade Look Reflects The In-Situ Resource Utilization Protocol—Nasa’s Goal To Augment Mission Supplies With The Natural Resources Found In Their Planetary Explorations.
Nike, Space Hippie 03, 2020. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2021.0041.


Converse Has Been Producing Its Iconic Canvas And Rubber All Star Since 1917, Adding Chuck Taylor’s Name In 1934.  In 2020, Concern For The Environment Led The Company To Reimagine Its Signature Shoe As A Model Of Sustainability. The Renew Chuck 70 Uses 85% Recycled Polyester Thread In Its Upper. The Laces Are Made From 100% Recycled Polyester And The Translucent Sole Features 12% Of Recycled Rubber Scraps Collected From The Footwear-Making Process.
Converse, Renew Chuck 70, 2020. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2021.0017.


Allbirds Was Established In 2014 With The Goal Of Using New Zealand Wool To Create Footwear. What Resulted Was A B-Corp Company Focused On Sustainability And Willing To Take Chances. It Has Collaborated With Adidas, A Rival Shoe Company, To Reduce The Carbon Footprint Of Both Businesses. Allbirds Also Innovated An Environmentally Friendly Sugarcane-Based Foam And Made It Open Source, Meaning That Any Company Is Free To Use The Material In Their Own Designs.
Allbirds, Wool Runner, 2021. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Gift Of Allbirds, Bsm 2021.0020.

Interchangeable Parts

Marc Newson’s 2004 Zvezdochka Was Ahead Of Its Time. Its Modular Construction Features Four Interlocking And Interchangeable Parts — An Injection-Molded Outer Cage, An Interlocking Outsole With A Nike Zoom Air Unit In The Heel, An Inner Sleeve, And An Insole — That Can Be Configured In A Variety Of Ways. The Interlocking System Eliminates The Need For Toxic Glues And Allows For Parts To Be Replaced As They Wear Out Without Discarding The Entire Shoe.
Marc Newson X Nike, Zvezdochka, 2005. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2022.0006.

Digital Design

Scry Is Dedicated To Disrupting Traditional Shoemaking By Working Digitally From Design To Fabrication. This Is Not Only Innovative, But Also Environmentally Friendly As It Reduces Both Prototyping And Production Waste. Co-Founder And Designer Zixiong Wei Harnesses The Possibilities Of 3d Printing To Create Footwear With A Markedly Sci-Fi Aesthetic.
Scry, Shadow Shuttle, 2021. Designed By Zixiong Wei, Co-Founder Of Scry. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Gift Of Scry, Bsm 2021.0024.


One Of Scry’s Goals Is To Make Shoe Design And Fabrication More Accessible, Leading To More Innovative And Dynamic Designs. Its Digital Approach Encourages Collaboration And, In 2022, Created A Series Of Shoes Including This Otherworldly Biomorphic Boot.
Scry, Undercurrent, 2022. Designed By Zixiong Wei, Co-Founder Of Scry. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Gift Of Scry, Bsm 2022.0014.

Sustainable: Look Into The Future

The Word Scry Means To See Into The Future. Designer Zixiong Wei Founded Scry To Create A More Open And Diverse Footwear Industry. Scry’s Digital Design And Manufacturing Platform Makes Shoe Design And Production More Accessible, Which The Company Hopes Will Increase Innovation And Inclusivity.

Sustainable: My Cell

Julian Zach Designs Industrial Footwear By Day, But On His Own Time He Imagines The Footwear Of The Future. His Concept Shoe, My Cell, Explores Step-By-Step How Consumers Of The Future Could Grow Their Own Footwear At Home Using A Mixture Of Corn Flour, Mycelium, And Water. To Make The Shoes Truly Bespoke, Each Consumer Would Have A Reusable Last—The Foot-Shaped Form That Shoes Are Traditionally Built On—Made To The Individual Specifications Of Their Feet. Then, Whenever Desired, They Could Make Custom Mushroom Leather Shoes That Ensured The Perfect Fit. The Simple Mixture Could Potentially Have Color Added To It To Give The Shoes An Additional Personalized Touch. Once The Shoes Were No Longer Needed, They Would Simply Be Composted, Leaving No Waste Behind.

Nike Mag

Packaging, 2015
Courtesy Of Industry; L2024.7.1

Back To The Future

The Dream Of Footwear That Automatically Laces Itself Began In 1989 When Marty Mcfly, In The Film Back To The Future Ii, Wore A Pair Of Nike Mags Designed By Tinker Hatfield. Although They Were Just Props, Nike Worked Over The Decades To Realize The Dream. On October 21, 2015, The Day That Marty Mcfly Arrived In The Future In The Movie, Nike Announced That It Was Releasing Eighty-Nine Pairs Of Self-Lacing Mags To Raise Money For The Foundation Started By The Film’s Star, Michael J. Fox, To Support Parkinson’s Research.
Tiffany Beers. Collection Of Nike Dna.

Nike Mag

Deconstructed Shoe, 2015
Courtesy Of Industry; L2024.7.2

Innovation: Back To The Future

No Shoe Is More Linked To Dreams Of The Future Of Footwear Than The Nike Mag Worn By The Time-Traveling Character Marty Mcfly In The 1989 Film Back To The Future Part Ii. The Movie Version Of The Sneakers Was Designed By Portland-Based Nike Duo Tinker Hatfield And  Mark Parker, And The Desire To Make Them Available In Real Life Was Almost Instantaneous. Serious Work To Make This Dream Come True Began In 2005, When Hatfield Turned To Designer Tiffany Beers. And On October 21, 2015, The Day That Marty Mcfly Arrived In The Future In The Film, Nike Announced It Was Releasing Eighty-Nine Pairs Of  Self-Lacing Mags To Raise Money For The Michael J. Fox Foundation For Parkinson’s Research. The Invention Of Electro Adaptive Reactive Lacing (Earl) Changed Sneaker History.

Computer Shoe

In The Early 1980s, Computer Technology Was Embraced To Enhance Athletic Performance. The Revolutionary 1984 Adidas Micropacer Had A Microsensor In The Left Toe That Could Record Distance, Running Pace, And Calories Burned. This Information Was Retrieved On The Readout Screen Found On The Tongue Of The Left Shoe. The Futuristic Design, Including Silver-Gilt Leather And Unusual Lace Covers, Also Reflected The Hope Of Attaining Physical Perfection Through Technology.
Adidas, Micropacer, 1984. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum,  Gift Of Philip Nutt, Bsm S97.0168.

Form = Function

In The Early 1990s, Steven Smith And Paul Litchfield Created One Of The Most Futuristic Sneakers Of All Time, The Reebok Instapump Fury. Its Radical New Architecture Was Achieved By Stripping Away Everything But The Most Essential Components. The Air Bladder Allowed The Sneaker To Be Fitted To The Foot Without Laces And Functioned As The Upper, While The Two-Part Sole Cushioned The Forepart Of The Foot And Heel With No Extra Material.
Reebok, Instapump Fury, 1994. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Gift Of Reebok, Bsm P95.0117.

3d Printed

A Long-Term Goal Of Rem D. Koolhaas, Co-Founder Of United Nude, Was To Make 3d Printed Shoes At An Affordable Price Point. After Years Of Development, United Nude Released The Float, A Fully Functional, Consumer-Priced, 3d-Printed Shoe. It Comprises Three Pieces That Click Together To Form An Open-Toed Sandal With A Cantilevered Heel.
United Nude, Float, 2014. Designed By Rem D. Koolhaas, Co-Founder Of United Nude. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2022.0013.

A Step Ahead: Off & Running The Nike Tailwind

Beyond Lunar Exploration, The Greatest Frontier In Shoemaking Was Athletic Footwear. The Most Revolutionary Idea That Emerged In The 1970s Came From Innovator And Former Aerospace Engineer Frank Rudy, Who Suggested That Nike Try Encapsulated Air In Its Soles. The First Sneaker To Feature Rudy’s Invention Was The Nike Tailwind, Which Came Out In 1978.

The Tailwind Was So Unconventional That The Box Included Instructions For Wear. “The Feedback We Have Received From Our Test Runners Indicates That The Unique Features Of The Tailwind May Require A Short Period Of Adjustment Before You Can Fully Appreciate The Advantages Of The Air Sole,” It Reads. “For Example, The Runner May Experience A Feeling Of Sinking While Walking In The Tailwind. This Sensation Is Reduced Or Eliminated When Running. We Suggest That The Shoes Initially Be Worn For Short Runs Until You Are Accustomed To The Tailwind Ride.”

1979 Nike Tailwind

Replica, 2010
Courtesy Of Department Of Nike Archives; L2024.2.49


Beth Levine Was One Of Only A Handful Of Women Shoe Designers In The Twentieth Century. She Saw Potential, Rather Than Limitation, In Non-Traditional Shoemaking Materials And Forms. Levine Used Modern Materials, Such As Acrylic, Vinyl, And Astroturf, As Well As Everyday Materials Like Paper, In Her Creative Process. She Was The First To Implement Lycra—An Elasticized Material Invented At Dupont In 1958 And Intended For Use In Girdles—To Make Form-Fitting Boots, Presaging Its Widespread Use In The Shoe Industry Later In The Century. Her 1957 No Shoe Design—A Pair Of High Heeled Soles With Surgical Adhesive Pads Made For Her By Johnson & Johnson To Adhere Directly To The Wearer’s Feet—Was Ahead Of Its Time. She Revisited The Idea In 1965, Making The Heel Lower And Edging The Sole With Plastic Leaves To Create A Pair Of Shoes Suitable For The Garden Of Eden.
Herbert Levine, No Shoes, 1965. Designed By Beth Levine, Co-Founder Of Herbert Levine. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm P95.0109.

A Step Ahead: New Materials, New Techniques

With The Advent Of The Industrial Revolution In The Nineteenth Century, New Materials And Manufacturing Methods Sped Up The Production Of Footwear And Significantly Boosted Output,  Transforming Shoemaking From An Artisanal Craft Into A Booming Industry Driven By The Invention Of New Methods And Materials.

This Mass Production Made Shoes More Accessible And Affordable, But It Also Brought New Limitations. Feet Suddenly Had To Fit Into Predetermined Sizes, And Consumer Choice Was Limited To The Styles And Colors Chosen By Manufacturers. In Addition, Workers Who Made The Shoes Faced Growing Exploitation And The Fabrication Process And Consumption Generated More And More Waste.

Whether Its Injection Molding, Air Cushioning, Or “Invisible” Shoes,  Shoes Created Specifically For Athletics, Created With Novelty Materials.Or The Integration Of Heels, Shoe Designers And Companies Today Are Designing  Not Only The Future, But Grappling With The Limitations And Impact Of What Has Come Before.

Injection Molding

The Period Immediately Following World War Ii Saw Quite A Few Advances In Footwear Production. In France, The Lack Of Available Leather After The War Inspired Plastics Manufacturer Jean Dauphant To Create The First Injection-Molded Footwear In 1946. The Pvc Sandals, Called La Méduse, Or The Jellyfish, Were Based On The Design Of Traditional French Fisherman Sandals. Injection Molding Dated Back To 1872, When John Wesley Hyatt, The Inventor Of Celluloid, Patented The Method, But Dauphant’s “Jellies” Marked The First Time That It Was Used In The Footwear Industry.
Dauphine, Injection-Molded Jelly Sandals, 2015. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm S17.0015.


In 1945, German Army Physician Klaus Märtens, With The Assistance Of His Friend Dr. Herbert Funk, Created A Boot With A Rubber Sole Composed Of Two Separate Pieces With Hollow Compartments That, When Heat-Sealed Together, Formed Air Pockets To Cushion The Feet. Their Innovative Use Of Air Presaged The Use Of Air Cushioning In Soles That Would Take The Sneaker Industry By Storm Decades Later. In The Late 1950s, English Shoe Manufacturer R. Griggs Struck A Deal With Märtens To License The Right To Produce His Boots. On April 1, 1960, R. Griggs Issued Its First Eight-Eyelet Dr. Martens, Christened The 1460 After The Date, Month, And Year Of Its Manufacture.
Dr. Martens, 1460 Union Jack With Airwair Soles, 2000s. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2023.0050.

Luigi Bufarini

Wedge-Heeled Mules, 1939–40
Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm P13.0045.

New Activities/New Shoes

In The Second Half Of The Nineteenth Century, New Materials And Activities Encouraged Manufacturers To Offer An Ever-Increasing Range    Of Specialty Shoes. Tennis, Basketball, Roller Skating, And Bicycling All Became Popular, And Each Was Pursued In Specialty Footwear. The Invention Of The Rubber-Soled Sneaker, A Term Used In The United States Since The 1870s, Was Linked To The Popularity Of Tennis. At First, Sneakers Were Costly, But By The End Of The Century, Increased Production Capabilities Had Lowered Their Price.
Goodyear Rubber Manufacturing Company, Sneakers, 1890s. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm P96.0098.


In The 1920s, The Heels Of Women’s Shoes Became A Site For Experimentation. There Are Tantalizing Reports Of The Popularity Of Glass Heels, Some Of Which Were Said To Be Illuminated. However, The Majority Of Dazzling Heels Created In The 1920s Were Embellished With Glossy Sheets Of Celluloid, One Of The Very First Plastics. Celluloid, A Mixture Of Camphor And Nitrocellulose, Was Invented In 1869 By John Wesley Hyatt To Replicate Ivory For Billiard Balls. Ironically, Given The Eventual Negative Impact Of Plastics On The Environment, Hyatt Was Compelled To Create Celluloid After Overhunting Led Ivory To Become Scarce.
Hanan & Sons, Evening Shoe With Celluloid Heels, 1920s. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm S11.0015.

Traditional Shoemaker’s Nippers

Canadian, 19th Century
Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum.

Traditional Shoemaker’s Stitching Awl

French, 19th Century.
Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum.

Linen Shoe Thread

Irish, 1940’s.
Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum.

Traditional Half-Moon Knife

French, 19th Century.
Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum.


Innovation Was Constantly Increasing Shoe Production In The Nineteenth Century. Patterns Were First Used For Clothing In The Early Nineteenth Century But Were Quickly Incorporated Into The Shoe Industry. Adjustable Metal Patterns, Such As These For Button Boots, Allowed Manufacturers To Ensure Standardized Sizing And Make Swift Adjustments.
Patterns For Industrial Shoemaking, Canadian, C. 1880s. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm P97.0084.

Traditional Shoemaker’s Hammer

French, 19th Century.
Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm P82.0082.

Shoemaker’s Boar Bristles

20th Century.
Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum.

The Gentle Craft

Traditional Shoemakers’ Shops Were Micro-Manufacturing Enterprises With Tasks Divided Between The Workers. However, The Output Was Extremely Low As Each Shoe Was Entirely Handcrafted. Shoemakers Used A Variety Of Tools To Make Shoes, Including Hammers, Moon-Shaped Knives, Awls, Pinchers, Skiving Tools, Boar’s Bristles, Thread, And Wax. Carving A Model Of A Foot, Known As A Last, Was The First Step In Shoemaking. The Upper Part Of The Shoe Was Then Sewn And Stretched Over The Last. Once The Shoe Was “Lasted,” The Difficult Task Of Dewing The Sole To The Upper Was Done.

Wooden Pegs

One Of The Most Difficult And Time-Consuming Steps In Shoemaking Is Sewing The Sole To The Upper. In The Early Nineteenth Century, Wooden Pegs Began To Replace Sewing To Speed Up Production. This Pair Of Men’s Slippers Features Beautifully Hand-Pegged Soles. Even Though This Accelerated Production And Lowered Costs, Pegged Soles Were Not Durable. Midway Through The Nineteenth Century, Sole-Sewing Machines Were Invented, Which Greatly Improved The Quality Of Mass-Produced Footwear.
Berlin Work Slippers With Pegged Soles, English, 1860s. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm P83.0147. Wooden Pegs Used For Attaching Soles, American, 20th Century. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum.


As The Nineteenth Century Wore On, Machine After Machine Replaced Skilled Workers In The Shoe Industry. Sewing Machines Sped Production And Reduced The Cost Of Adding Embroidered Embellishment, Encouraging More People To Participate In Fashion Consumption. These Boots, One Of Seven Identical Pairs In The Bata Shoe Museum Collection, Were Made By The Parisian Shoe Manufacturer L.P. Perchellet. They Were Found In An Estate In Santiago, Chile, Demonstrating The Far Reach Of Mass-Produced French Footwear.
L.P. Perchellet, Mass-Produced Boots, 1875. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm P83.0206.


In Western Fashion, “Straights” Were A Type Of Early To Mid-Nineteenth-Century Footwear That Did Not Differentiate Between “Lefts” Or “Rights.” Straights Became Popular Because They Required Only One Last Per Shoe Size, Making Them Cheaper And Faster To Produce. This Pair Of Women’s Straights Was Most Likely Made For Export.
Bronze Glacé Kid Straights, French, 1840–1850. Collection Of The  Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm P84.0067.

Space Age

In The 1960s, The Belief That Science And Technology, Especially The Race To Space, Would Shape The Future In Positive Ways Dominated The Footwear Industry And Energized Inventors And Designers. French Designer André Courrèges’s Space-Age Designs, Including Boots, Helped Define Fashion In The Early 1960s. One Of His Most Famous Creations Is The Pair Of Minimalist White Leather Go-Go Boots From 1964. Paired With Miniskirts, The Boots Defined The Youthquake Fashion Of The Decade And Were Widely Imitated. This Rare Pair Of Courrèges Boots In The Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum Still Retains Its Original Box.
André Courrèges, Space-Age Collection Boots, 1964. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm S01.0016.

Steel Heels

Another Post War Fashion Made Possible By Wartime Technology Was The Invention Of The High, Thin Stiletto Heel. Wood Had Long Been Used To Make Women’s Heels, But It Was Not Strong Enough For Exceptionally Slim Heels.

In The Early 1950s Shoemakers Began To Seek Out Alternatives. Hard Plastics Would Ultimately Be The Answer, But The Earliest Attempts Relied On Steel. These Examples Were Created By Roger Vivier, A Longtime Shoe Designer For Christian Dior.

Roger Vivier For Christian Dior

Silk-Covered Steel Heel Stiletto Shoe And Silk-Covered Steel Heel, Both 1956.
Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum Bsm S97.0118, Bsm P01.0098.

Virtual: Seeking Answers To What Is Reality
The Blue Collection

“Blends The Organic That We Find In Nature With Technology To Create New Forms And Prove That Technology Can Be Beautiful,” Said Designer Antonio Arocho Hernández.

“I Take Pride That Most Of My 3d Skills Have Been Self-Taught. My Creative Practice Focuses On Using Xr  Technology To Break The Paradigms Of Design, Reality, And Perception. This Leads Me To Build The First Virtual Reality Footwear Tracking Experience In Real Time.”

Extended Reality (Xr) Is An Umbrella Term Encapsulating Augmented Reality (Ar), Virtual Reality (Vr), Mixed Reality (Mr), And Everything In Between. The Artform Is Digital-Native.

Virtual Reality Shoe

Where Are The Shoes? They Exist, But Only In The Metaverse. When You Scan Each Qr Code With Your Smart Phone, An Augmented Reality Version Of A Shoe Created By Antonio Arocho Hernández For Wear In Vr Will Appear Before You. Each Of The Shoes Are Part Of His Blue Collection.

Antonio Arocho Hernández’s Vr Footwear Designs Are Inspired By A Range Of Things, Including The Undulating Movements Of Water. Although Vr Is Currently Limited To The Visual, The Dream Is That One Day, Vr Will Also Include Sensations, Or Haptics.

Hanada, 2021

Antonio Arocho Hernández, The Blue Collection, 2021-2022.
Collection Of Antonio Arocho Hernández.

Nada, 2021

Antonio Arocho Hernández, The Blue Collection, 2021-2022.
Collection Of Antonio Arocho Hernández.

Marina, 2021

Antonio Arocho Hernández, The Blue Collection, 2021–2022. Collection Of Antonio Arocho Hernández.

Akvo, 2021

Antonio Arocho Hernández, The Blue Collection, 2021–2022. Collection Of Antonio Arocho Hernández.


Gravity Sketch, A Tool That Allows For People To Work Collaboratively In 3d, Has Been Embraced By The Footwear Industry. 3d Tools Allow For The Sharing Of Ideas Across The Entire Workflow And Enable Designers To Communicate Details And Concepts More Clearly While Also Encouraging All Involved To Contribute Ideas. In 2023, The Company Invited Footwear Designer Joey Khamis To Create The Company’s First Sneaker.
Joey Khamis X Gravity Sketch, 2024. Collection Of Gravity Sketch.


Moonwalkers Were Invented By Mechatronics Engineer Xunjie Zhang To Allow People To Walk At Running Speed. The Overshoe Features Eight Battery-Powered Wheels, A Sophisticated Breaking System To Ensure Safe Stopping And Stepping, And A Responsive Ai-Enabled Drivetrain That Lets Wearers Walk Naturally While Navigating Complex Urban Environments At Speeds Of More Than Six Miles An Hour.
Shift Robotics, Moonwalker, 2023. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Gift Of Shift Robotics, Bsm 2023.0056.

Baliston Shoe

Baliston Was Founded In 2021 To Create Sustainable Footwear With “Advanced Biomechanical Technology.” These Sneakers Were Designed By Industrial Designer And Architect Philippe Starck. He Used Bio-Based Materials To Create The Shoes, Making Castor-Bean-Textile Uppers And Sugar-Cane-Foam Soles, And Fitted The Soles With Sensors That Take A Wide Range Of Readings About The Wearers Gait, Propulsion, Heel Impact Force, And Pronation. The Data It Gathers, Analyzed By Ai-Based Algorithms, Offers Wearers Hyper-Individualized Feedback To Improve Performance And Comfort. It Can Be Used To Order Bespoke Insoles. Wearers Are Notified By The App When The Sneakers Or Insoles Need Replacing, And The Company Recycles All Shoes After Use.
Baliston, Baliston By Starck Smart Shoe, 2023. Designed By Philippe Stark. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum


As Competitive Gaming Has Grown In Importance, So Has Appreciation For What Gamers Do. Many Brands Have Started Collaborating With Individual Players And Sponsoring Leagues. In 2019, Puma Released A Shoe Specifically Designed For Console Gamers To Wear While Playing. It Features A Knit Upper For A Sock-Like Fit, A Split Rubber Outsole For Flexibility, And A Cushioned Insole For Comfort—All Designed To Meet The Needs Of A Person Gaming In A Range Of Postures. Its Release, Just Months Before Covid-19, Was Met With Some Skepticism. However, Gaming Offered The Perfect Outlet During Months Of Lockdowns, And Appreciation Grew. The Shoes Have Even Become Popular Among Barefoot Runners.
Puma, Active Gaming Footwear, 2021. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2021.0053.

Start A Riot

In 2005, Jeff Staple, One Of The Most Important Figures In Sneaker Culture, Created The Nike Dunk Sb Low Staple Nyc Pigeon And Unexpectedly Sparked The World’s First Sneaker Riot. In 2021, He Jumped At The Chance To Be At The Forefront Again By Venturing Into The Metaverse By Collaborating With Rtfkt (Pronounced Artifact). Staple And Rtfkt Reimagined The Pigeon As Both An Nft And A Set Of “Forged” Physical Sneakers, Including This Meta-Pigeon K-Minus.
Jeff Staple X Rtfkt, Meta-Pigeon K-Minus, 2021. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Gift Of Rtfkt, Bsm 2021.0036.

Virtual: How Do You Make Something Intuitive?

Ekto Vr Creator Brad Factor Focuses On Expanding The Virtual Reality Experience—Literally. Going Beyond The Typical Ten-By-Ten Grid Available In Current Vr Gaming And Experiences, His Shoe Designs Create  The Feeling Of Highly Naturalistic Movement Through Wide-Open Virtual Spaces While Ensuring That The Wearer Remains Safely In One Place.

Motorized Wheels On The Shoes Rotate To Face The Direction The Wearer  Is Walking In, Taking Into Account The Angle Of Their Feet—Because People Don’t Walk With Their Feet Perfectly Straight—Allowing Them To Walk Naturally. The Toe And Heel Are Decoupled So The Wearer Can Even Flex Their Toes.

Safe In One Place

In 2018, Ekto Vr Founder Brad Factor Set Out To Solve A Problem: How To Give People The Ability To Feel Like They Are Walking “Naturally” But Safely Through Virtual Spaces. Factor’s Solution Was To Create Footwear With Motorized Wheels And Soles That Can Rotate To Face The Direction A Wearer

Virtual: Blurring The Lines

From Nft Sneakers To Virtual Try-Ons, The Futurists Working In The Metaverse Are Creating Footwear That Blurs The Lines Between The Real And Virtual Worlds.The Term Metaverse Was Coined By Science Fiction Writer Neal Stephenson In His 1992 Novel Snow Crash, Referring To A Complex, 3d Virtual Space Where People Could Meet Remotely. Today, The Term Encompasses A Range Of Digital Spaces That Let Users Interact In Digitally Created Worlds, From Massively Multiplayer Online Games (Mmogs) Such As Fortnite To Virtually Embodied Social Spaces Like Vrchat.

The Metaverse Has No Gravity Or Limitations – And Thus, Is A Compelling New Space For Creators Unlimited Potential In The Creation Of Virtual Footwear.

Game On

The Intertwining Of Gaming And Sneakers Began In Earnest When Playstation And Nike Collaborated On The Release Of An Air Force 1 In 2006 To Celebrate The Launch Of The New Playstation 3. A Limited, Numbered Edition Of 150 Was Made, Resulting In One Of The Most Desired Sneakers Of All Time. In 2009, Nike Issued An Even Smaller Release Of Air Force 1s To Celebrate The Tenth Anniversary Of Playstation. Like The Originals, They Have Black Patent Leather Uppers That Mirror The Sleek All-Black Look Of The Playstation 3. The Smooth, Gradated Leather Quarters, Embellished With The Playstation Logo, Mimic The Console’s Start-Up Screen. The Sneakers Also Feature A Playstation Graphic On The Insole Sock And Purple Laces.
Playstation X Nike, Air Force 1 Anniversary Edition, 2009. Collection Of Chad Jones.

Transformative: Cartoon Boots For A Cool 3-D World

“It’s A Footwear Design Truism That The Shape Of A Shoe Is Not The Shape Of A Foot. Big Red Boots Are Really Not Shaped Like Feet, But They Are Extremely Shaped Like Boots. If You Kick Someone In These Boots, They Go Boing.” —Mschf

Created By Mschf (Pronounced “Mischief”), A New York–Based Art Collective Known For Their Wry Commentary On Contemporary Life, Big Red Boots Sold Out In Minutes During The Official Online Launch On February 16, 2023. With Comparisons To Pop Culture Icons Ranging From Astro Boy To Dora The Explorer, These Are The Shoes That Broke The Internet.

Big Red Boots

In February 2023, The Brooklyn-Based Art Collective Mschf Released Their Big Red Boots. Their Oversized “Cartoonishness,” As They Explained, Was “An Abstraction That Frees Us From The Constraints Of Reality.” The Boots Were Inspired By The Footwear Worn By The Famous Japanese Cartoon Character Astro Boy And Took Social Media By Storm.
Mschf, Big Red Boots, 2023. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2023.0059.


In 2020, Benoit Pagotto, Steven Vasilev, And Chris Le Founded The Company Rtfkt To Produce Non-Fungible Tokens (Nfts), Starting With Sneakers. Their First Digital Design, The Cybersneaker, Sold For 30 Ether, The Cryptocurrency On The Ethereum Network. It Was The Highest Amount Ever Paid For An Item Of Digital Fashion. A Year Later, Rtfkt Was Acquired By Nike, As Part Of A Move To Accelerate Its “Digital Transformation And … Serve Athletes And Creators At The Intersection Of Sport, Creativity, Gaming And Culture.”

The First Nike Rtfkt Release Was The Dunk Genesis Cryptokick, Which Featured A Rare Colorway Created By Japanese Artist Takashi Murakami. In 2023, Rtfkt Worked With Murakami Again To Create A Series Of Rtfkt X Takashi Murakami X Nike Air Force 1 Nfts. Notably, Only Those Who Owned The “Murakami Drip” Nft Were Able To Forge The Design As Physical Sneakers.
Murakaki X Rtfkt Murakaki Drip. Nike Air Force 1 Low, 2023 Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Gift Of Rtfkt, (Bsm 2024.0003)

Transformative: The Future Of Footwear

Change Is Made By Those Willing To Disrupt The Status Quo. From Striving To Build A More Inclusive Future To Pushing The Boundaries Of Design, The Most Visionary Creators In The Footwear Industry Are Reimagining The Future Of Footwear By Breaking Old Molds And Creating New Possibilities.

Transformative: I’m Here To Push Boundaries

Designer Daniel Bailey, Aka Mr. Bailey, Takes Inspiration From A Wide Range Of Things, From The Natural World To Contemporary Art, As Seen With Octopus (2018) And The Simple Things (2019).

“The More You Dig Into The Natural World, The More You Start To Understand Just How Complex And Poetic It Is. For Example, Did You Know There’s A Jellyfish That’s Essentially Immortal? It’s A Cheat Code Of Constant Inspiration.I Think People Have An Appetite For The New, For The Daring. These Are The Ideas That Ultimately Help Stimulate And Push Design Forward, And I’m Here For It. I’m Here To Explore And To Push Boundaries.”

Simple Things

This Pair Of Sneakers Was Inspired By Takashi Murakami And Pharrell’s Sculpture, The Simple Things (2008–2009). The Artwork Features Seven Everyday Things That Bring Pharrell Joy—Including A Cupcake, Doritos, And A Sneaker From His Own Billionaire Boy’s Club Brand—All Resting Inside The Characteristically Spikey-Toothed Mouth Of One Of Murakami’s Iconic Cartoon Figures, Mr. Dob. Daniel Bailey Transposed Each Of These Elements Into His Sneaker Design, Including The Spikey Sole, Jewel-Toned Uppers, And Cleverly Constructed Outer Bootie Representing Mr. Dob’s Skin.
Mr. Bailey, The Simple Things, 2019. Designed By Daniel Bailey, Founder Of Mr. Bailey. Collection Of Mr. Bailey.

Concept Kicks

Independent Designer Daniel Bailey, Aka Mr. Bailey, Is Responsible For Some Of The Most Avant-Garde Sneaker Designs Seen In Recent Years, And His Online Platform, Conceptkicks, Highlights And Encourages Innovation In Footwear Design. Bailey’s Octopus Shoe, Created For Takashi Murakami’s Complexcon Exhibition Sneakers For Breakfast, Is A Complex But Wearable Design Featuring A Tentacle-Inspired Sole That Rises Up To Encase The Upper.
Mr. Bailey, Octopus, 2018. Designed By Daniel Bailey, Founder Of Mr. Bailey. Collection Of Mr. Bailey.

Stepping Into Politics

Celebrated As The “Future Of Fashion,” Kerby Jean-Raymond, Founder Of Pyer Moss, Seamlessly Mixes Politics And Design. His Goal Is To Create “Self-Sustaining Black Economies And Self-Sustaining Black Narratives So We’re Not At The Mercy Of Institutions And Systems That Continue To Erase Us.” Pyer Moss’s First In-House Sneaker, Sculpt, Features A Futuristic Sole Matched With A Luxury Suede And Mesh Upper With The Pyer Moss Signature Contrast White Topstitch.
Pyer Moss, Sculpt, 2020. Designed By Kerby Jean-Raymond, Founder Of Pyer Moss. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2022.0001.


The Future Is Built Upon The Past. This Is Especially True For Many Sneaker Collaborations. In 2020, Boundary-Pushing Fashion House Maison Margiela Collaborated With Reebok To Combine And Reimagine The Signature Split-Toed Margiela Tabi, First Released In 1988, With Reebok’s Iconic Instapump Fury From 1994. Maison Margiela’s Creative Director John Galliano Wanted To Create “A Statement Shoe For The Age Of The Cyber-Industrial Revolution.”
Maison Margiela X Reebok, Tabi Instapump Fury Lo, 2021.  Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Gift Of Reebok, Bsm 2021.0015.

High Concept

Cutting-Edge Designer Safa Sahin Became The Head Of Sneaker Design At Balmain In 2021, Where His Work Is Pushing The Envelope; His B/Eat Slides For Balmain Spring/Summer 2022 Collection Took The Fashion World By Storm. Sahin’s Futuristic Footwear Designs, Such As His 2021 Unicorn Sneaker, Are Both Playful And Surreal, And Often Turn Longstanding Sneaker Innovations On Their Head.
Safa Sahin For Balmain, Unicorn, 2021. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2023.0058.

Universal Design

The Go Flyease Was Created For People With Limited Mobility. The Hinged Sole And Tensioner Band Allow The Wearer To Insert Their Foot Directly Into The Shoe And Then, By Pushing Down Into The Sole, Lock It Into Position. Removal Was Also Designed With Accessibility In Mind: The Back Heel Protrusion Allows The Shoe To Be Stabilized By One Foot While The Other Is Pulled Out Of The Shoe.
Nike, Go Flyease, 2021. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2021.0016.


D’wayne Edwards Is One Of The Most Important Visionaries Working In Footwear Today. After Years In The Sneaker Industry, He Founded Pensole Academy In 2010 To Give Marginalized Design Students The Opportunity To Prepare To Work In The Footwear Industry. In 2023, Edwards Established His Ground-Breaking Factory The Jan Ernst Matzeliger Stu/Deo (Jems),  The First Black-Owned Athletic Footwear Factory In The Us. The Name Pays Tribute To Jan Ernst Matzeliger, The Black Inventor Whose Lasting Machine Increased Footwear Production From 50 To 700 Pairs A Day, Transforming The Industry. The Factory’s Inaugural Sneaker Features A Portrait Of Matzeliger On The Sole.
Jems By Pensole, First Jem, 2024. Designed By D’wayne Edwards, Founder Of Pensole. Gift Of D’wayne Edwards, Bsm 2024.0001.


Yohji Yamamoto Has Long Pushed The Boundaries Of Fashion By Reimagining And Challenging Accepted Silhouettes. His Collaboration With Adidas, One Of The First Between A High-End Fashion Designer And A Sportswear Brand, Led To The Founding Of Y-3 In 2003, And Has Produced Some Of The Most Futuristic Sneaker Designs Of The Twenty-First Century. His Popular Kaiwa Has Been Released In A Number Of Colorways Since Its Debut In 2018.
Adidas Y-3, Kaiwa, 2021. Designed By Yohji Yamamoto. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2022.0004.

Breaking The Mold

In 2021, Salehe Bembury Left Versace To Pursue More Independent Projects, Including A Collaboration With Crocs. Bembury Was The First Designer Crocs Allowed To “Break The Mold” And Reimagine The Company’s Traditional Silhouette. Inspired By His Own Fingerprint, Bembury Changed The Clog’s Form And Shape, Giving It A Seemingly Undulating Surface And Creating One Of The Year’s Most Sought-After Shoes.
Salehe Bembury X Crocs, Pollex Clog, 2021. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2021.0054.

Art Crocs

The Alife Art Crocs Were The First Collaboration Between Crocs And A Streetwear Brand. Alife Founder Robert Cristofaro Designed The 3d Printed Charms, Called “Jibbitz,” To Depict Seven                    New York City Landmarks. They Look Like Mini Sculptures And Transform The Crocs Into Works Of Wearable Art.
Alife X Crocs, Art Croc, 2018. Designed By Robert Cristofaro, Co-Founder Of Alife. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2021.0046.

Future Forward

In 2019, Olympic Track And Field Athlete Allyson Felix Faced Significant Gender-Based Discrimination From Her Sponsor During And After Her Pregnancy With Her First Child. In Response She Started Her Own Sneaker Company. Her First Sneaker, The Saysh One, Was Designed By Natalie Candrian. Felix Wore A Pair Of Bespoke Saysh Spike Ones When She Won Gold At The Tokyo Summer Olympics, Making Her The Most Decorated Woman In Olympic Track And Field History.
Saysh, One, 2021. Collection Of The Bata Shoe Museum, Bsm 2022.0005.

Fam Jam: Welcome

This Fam Jam Activity Space Has Been Created In Partnership With Sneaker Week Pdx. Lace Up Your Creativity And Explore All Things Sneaker-Related, Including The Anatomy Of A Sneaker, Digitally Designing Your Own Custom Kicks, And Learning Fancy Lacing Techniques.

Doernbecher Freestyle

How Do You Sum Up Your Life On A Shoe?
Over The Last 20 Years, 122 Remarkable Ohsu Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Patients Have Shared Their Life Story On A Shoe — With Humor, Grace, Courage And Endless Creativity. In Past Designs, We’ve Seen A Sasquatch Riding A Unicorn And A Super-Powered Chicken. We’ve Also Seen Everything From Dragon Scales To Flying Macaroni. Some Of The Shoes Are Glittery. Others Glow In The Dark. All Of Them Inspire.

Doernbecher Freestyle Was Launched In 2004 When Michael Doherty — Then Nike, Inc. Creative Director Of Global Brand Presentations And Life Member Of The Doernbecher Philanthropy Board — Was Intrigued By His Son’s Idea To Create Custom Nike Shoes Honoring Ohsu Doernbecher Patients. The Program Gives These Kids The Chance To Showcase Their Passions, Life Experiences, Medical Journeys And Relationships. And With 100% Of The Profits From Retail Sales Of Their Shoes Going Back To The Hospital, They Can Give Back To The Place That Has Given Them So Much.

“There Are A Lot Of Kids Fighting For Their Life At Doernbecher Right Now, And They Need All The Help They Can Get,” Said One Past Patient-Designer. “Being Able To Do Something For Them Makes Me Feel Really Good Inside.”

Twenty Years Later, Doernbecher Freestyle Has Deeply Touched The Lives Of These Kids Who Have Faced Significant Health Challenges. Their Stories Have Inspired Care Providers, Donors, Athletes, Celebrities, Nike Design Employees And Sneakerheads, All Who Have Enthusiastically Shown Their Support For The Program. To Date, Doernbecher Freestyle Has Raised $37 Million To Advance The Cause Of Children’s Health At Ohsu Doernbecher — With Tangible, Life-Changing Results.

To Learn More About Doernbecher Freestyle, Visit Doernbecherfreestyle.org.

(Top Row, Left To Right)

Daymon Abbott

Zoom Air Angus From Doernbecher Freestyle I, 2004

Sam Bishop

Nike Shox Bomber Low From Doernbecher Freestyle Ii, 2005

Ken Schroeder

Air Max Rival From Doernbecher Freestyle Ii, 2005

Randi Helmkamp

Air Total Package Low From Doernbecher Freestyle Ii, 2005

Bryant King

Nike Shox Ups From Doernbecher Freestyle Iii, 2006

(Bottom Row, Left To Right)

Phoebe Mattera

Rhythm Lace From Doernbecher Freestyle Iii, 2006

Whitney Mcclain

Air Rift Premium Db From Doernbecher Freestyle Iv, 2007

Mike Armstrong

Air Max 95 Le From Doernbecher Freestyle Iv, 2007

(Bottom Row, Left To Right)

Phoebe Mattera

Rhythm Lace From Doernbecher Freestyle Iii, 2006

Whitney Mcclain

Air Rift Premium Db From Doernbecher Freestyle Iv, 2007

Mike Armstrong

Air Max 95 Le From Doernbecher Freestyle Iv, 2007

Sheridan Brenton

Air Jordan 2 Retro High Db From Doernbecher Freestyle Iv, 2007

Ricky Rudd

Dunk Low From Doernbecher Freestyle Iv, 2007

Staci Wright

Air Zoom Vomero+ 3 From Doernbecher Freestyle V, 2008


Air Max 90 From The Doernbecher Freestyle 5th Anniversary, 2008

(Top Row, Left)

Anna Finley

Air Zenyth From Doernbecher Freestyle Vi, 2009

Shelby Lee

Free Run+ 2 From Doernbecher Freestyle Vii, 2010

Cole Johanson

Air Jordan 3 Retro From Doernbecher Freestyle Vii, 2010

(Top Row, Left To Right)

Autumn Boynton

Air Max 90 Gg From Doernbecher Freestyle Ix, 2012

Chad Berg

Air Force 1 Low 1/0 From Doernbecher Freestyle Ix, 2012

Kate Smith

Nike Rosherun From Doernbecher Freestyle X, 2013

(Bottom Row, Left)

Collin Couch

Air Force 1 ‘07 Le From Doernbecher Freestyle V, 2008

Claire Logue

Zoom Vomero+ 5 From Doernbecher Freestyle Vii, 2010

Daniel Bair

Air Max ‘95 Le From The Doernbecher Freestyle Collection, 2011

(Bottom Row, Center)

Finnigan Mooney

Dunk High Pro Sb From Doernbecher Freestyle Ix, 2012

Kira Smith

Dunk Sky Hi From Doernbecher Freestyle X, 2013

(Bottom Row, Right)

Grant Olsen

Nike Free Run+2 From Doernbecher Freestyle Ix, 2012

Ross Hathaway

Zoom Stefan Janoski Prm From Doernbecher Freestyle X, 2013

Alejandro Muñoz

Air Max Penny Le From Doernbecher Freestyle Xi, 2014

(Top Row, Left To Right)

Caden Lampert

Air Jordan 8 Retro From Doernbecher Freestyle Xi, 2014

Chase Crouch

Stefan Janoski Max From Doernbecher Freestyle Xi, 2014

(Top Row, Right)

Ethan Frank

Air Max 90 Premium From The Doernbecher Freestyle Oregon Ducks Collection, 2017

Amyiah Robinson

Air Max Thea Ultra Flyknit From Doernbecher Freestyle Xiv, 2017

(Bottom Row, Left To Right)

Isaiah Neumayer-Grubb

Zoom Stefan Janoski From Doernbecher Freestyle Xii, 2015

Kian Safholm

Lebron Xiii From Doernbecher Freestyle Xii, 2015

(Bottom Row, Center)


Dunk High Sk “What The Doernbecher” From Doernbecher Freestyle 11th Anniversary, 2015


Nike Air Max 95 Premium From Doernbecher Freestyle Xii, 2015

Emory Maughan

Nike Air Max 90 Premium From Doernbecher Freestyle Xii, 2015

Braylin Soon

Air Huarache Run Ultra From The Doernbecher Freestyle Line, 2016

Brody Miller

Air More Uptempo 96 From Doernbecher Freestyle Xiv, 2017

Doernbecher Dunk Sky Hi
Doernbecher Freestyle X (2013)

Though Kira Smith May Sometimes Be Mistaken For Her Identical Twin Kate, There’s No Mistaking This Nike Dunk Sky Hi She Helped Create For The 2013 Doernbecher Freestyle Collection.
Inspired By Her Love For Victorian Fashion And A Playful Fascination With Alice In Wonderland, Kira’s Shoe Struts Their Stuff With Lace Embossing, Ribbon Laces, And A Corset Detail Up The Heel. The Outsole Features Kira’s Hand-Drawn Graphics And A Quote From A Certain Cheshire Cat That Reads, “We’re All Mad Here.”

Doernbecher: Air More Uptempo 96
Doernbecher Freestyle Xiv (2017)

To Help In His Fight Against Complex Brain Malformation, Brody Miller, An Aspiring Comic Book Artist, Dreamed Up An Alter Ego, Generator Man, Who Is Featured On His Air More Uptempo.

“Generator Man Is Based On Me,” He Explained. “Not Only Can He Shoot Healing Energy Out Of His Hands, He Also Has The Powers Of Mind Control.”

Other Super-Powered Features Include A Glow-In-The-Dark Outsole That Reveals The Words Be Strong. “With All My Surgeries, I’ve Had To Be Really Strong,” He Declared.

There’s Also A Giant Bpm Down The Side Which Stands For “Beats Per Minute” As Well As His Initials, Brody Preston Miller.

Doernbecher: Air Zoom Vapor Cage 4
Doernbecher Freestyle Xvii (2022)

Behind Her Quiet Humility, Maylee Phelps Is Kind Of A Big Deal. Currently Ranked #2 In The U.S. For Wheelchair Tennis, She Constantly Pushes Her Limits And Designed A Shoe That Inspires Others To Do The Same. Her Spin On The Air Zoom Vapor Cage 4 Features Her Very Own Logo, A Spine Graphic To Represent Spina Bifida, And A Reminder To “Keep Pushing No Matter What Life Throws Your Way.”

Doernbecher: Air Foamposite One
Doernbecher Freestyle Xvii (2023)

As A Proud Member Of The Klamath Tribes, Coley Miller Found Plenty Of Design Inspiration Within Her Culture. Her Retro Hoop Shoe Features A Basket Weave Graphic That Incorporates A Quail Plume And The Klamath Mountains. The Night Sky Graphics Are Inspired By Stargazing With Her Mother, Who Donated One Of Her Kidneys To Coley. As For The Phrase “Ho Mas Gi” On The Outsole, That Isa  Reminder To Just Do It In Coley’s Klamath Language.

(Left To Right)

Joey Bates

Sb Dunk Low From Doernbecher Freestyle Xv, 2018

Bransen Fernando

Air Max Triax 96 From Doernbecher Freestyle Xvi, 2019

(Left To Right)

Cidni O’brien

Air Force 1 Fontanka From Doernbecher Freestyle Xvii, 2022

Maylee Phelps

Air Zoom Vapor Cage 4 From Doernbecher Freestyle Xvii, 2022

(Left To Right)

Ethan Ellis

Air Jordan 14 Retro From Doernbecher Freestyle Xvi, 2019

Sawyer Miller

Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2 From Doernbecher Freestyle Xvi, 2019

(Bottom Row, Center)


Dunk High Sk “What The Doernbecher” From Doernbecher Freestyle 11th Anniversary, 2015.

(Left To Right)

Zion Thompson

Air Force 1 Low From Doernbecher Freestyle Xvi, 2019


Superfly 8 Elite (Look See Sample) From The Doernbecher Freestyle Xvii Auction, 2022

(Bottom Row, Right)

Jaren Heacock

Zoom Vomero 5 From Doernbecher Freestyle Xviii, 2023

Coley Miller

Air Foamposite One From The Doernbecher Freestyle Collection, 2023

Digital Sneaker Station

Touch The Screen Anywhere To Start.
Play With A Variety Of Colors, Textures, And Materials.

Anatomy Of A Sneaker

1. Upper: Part Of The Shoe That Wraps The Foot Across The Top And Sides.
2. Midsole: Usually Made Of Foam, Provides Cushioning For The Bottom Of The Foot.
3. Outsole: Usually Made Of Rubber, Bottom Layer That Touches The Ground.
4. Heel Counter: Panel That Reinforces The Back Of The Shoe.
5. Collar: Area Where The Foot Enters The Shoe.
6. Pull Tab: Can Be Held With The Fingers To Make It Easier To Put On The Shoe.
7. Tongue: Covers The Top Of The Foot.
8. Laces: Covers The Tongue And Are Used To Tighten The Shoe And Hold It In Place Around The Foot.
9. Eyelets: A System Of Loops Or Holes Where The Laces Attach.
10. Eyestay: Area Where Eyelets Are Placed, Can Help Reinforce The Shoe When The Laces Are Tightened.
11. Toe Cap: Extra Panel That Reinforces The Front Area Of The Shoe.
12. Stitching: Threads That Sew The Parts Of The Shoe Together.