Sneaker boom: from grassroots to billion-dollar industry

HOTA’s latest international exhibition ‘Sneakers Unboxed’ details the influential people and iconic kicks behind the sneaker boom.
'Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street' installation view at HOTA 2023. Photo: ArtsHub.

Die-hard sneakerheads are probably not surprised to find famous kicks netting millions at auctions or entire museums dedicated to a footwear with humble beginnings, though the global phenomenon of sneaker culture may be unfamiliar to others. It does, however, have a deep and rich history closely linked with sport, music, dance and fashion, as well as commerce.

Recently unveiled at HOTA (Home of the Arts) on the Gold Coast is the Australian premiere exhibition, Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street. Initiated by London’s Design Museum, this international travelling exhibition made its way across the Netherlands and South Korea before landing in the Pacific region. Sneakers Unboxed not only presents some of the rarest and most sought after sneakers on the market, but also taps into both sides of the sneaker culture continuum – from history to future.

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Celina Lei is an arts writer and editor at ArtsHub. She acquired her M.A in Art, Law and Business in New York with a B.A. in Art History and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne. She has previously worked across global art hubs in Beijing, Hong Kong and New York in both the commercial art sector and art criticism. Most recently she took part in drafting NAVA’s revised Code of Practice - Art Fairs. Celina is based in Naarm/Melbourne.