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Black History Month: 6 Black Individuals Who Impacted Sneaker Culture

Updated: Feb 28, 2021

February is Black History Month! House of Trade recognizes the industry wouldn’t be what it is today without major contributions from some key titans of the Black Community. Here at HOT, we’re going to highlight a few folks that have literally changed the world for shoe-buying and sneakerheads everywhere.

George Gervin

Before there was the Air Man, there was the Iceman. George Gervin of Detroit, Michigan, known for his cool demeanor and chosen as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, pioneered Nike’s Blazer -- widely considered the first significant basketball sneaker.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Quite possibly the greatest big to ever play the game at 7’2”, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played 20 seasons with both the Milwaukee Bucks and LA Lakers. The Adidas Jabbar was the very first NBA basketball-endorsed basketball shoe and was released in 1971.

Walt Frazier

Hall-of-Famer Walt “Clyde” Frasier’s signature shoe, the Puma Clyde, was released in 1973 after Frazier suggested he wanted a sneaker that would be lighter and more flexible. Frazier became the first signature athlete after Puma added his signature to the shoe. The Clyde became a favorite in both hip hop and skater culture.

Kanye West

Kayne’s collaboration with Adidas has certainly kept the company relevant, sought-after, and influential. Yeezys were first released in 2015, but West’s vision and acumen for design traces back to working with Nike and Louis Vitton between 2005-2013. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Yeezy made sure funds went to protect 106 jobs.

Jerry Lorenzo

Lorenzo established Fear of God in 2013 and also previously partnered with Nike until 2018. Lorenzo and Adidas Basketball announced a partnership in November of 2020; together they are embarking on a long-term creative and business project. 2021 promises to be a great year for the designer.

Pharrel Williams

Pharrell Williams started his partnership with Adidas in 2014 with his Hu collection to remind us we are all part of the Human Race. His intention was to create an exploration of color, passion, love, and energy.

by Nicole Amato

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