Sneaker books are a key resource for any sneakerhead. As well as detailing the technical specifications and details of any silhouette, the books also explain the history of a culture that has grown into a billion dollar industry. The books listed below range from in-depth looks at era defining silhouettes — like the adidas Originals Stan Smith and Nike SB Dunk — to texts examining some of the biggest sneaker stories, including Nike’s rise to power and the split of adidas and PUMA.
Nike SB: The Dunk Book
Released earlier this year, Rizzoli’s comprehensive history of the Nike SB Dunk tells the story of how a basketball silhouette became one of the most important skate shoes of all time. The 350-page book features a number of iconic SB Dunk releases — including the Staple Pigeon Dunks, Paris Dunks and Supreme Dunk SBs — as well as archive photography of Nike SB skaters including Eric Koston, Richard Mulder and more wearing the sneakers. Another stand-out feature of Nike SB: The Dunk Book is personal anecdotes from the likes of Futura and Paul Rodriguez about the silhouette. The book is available now from the Rizzoli online bookstore.
Stan Smith: Some People Think I Am A Shoe
With adidas Originals’ Stan Smith having a good claim to be the world’s most famous sneaker, Rizzoli went deep on the sneaker with this book, released earlier this year. The book itself is written by Stan Smith, the former number one USA tennis player who is now best known for his signature sneaker. Complete with contributions from Raf Simons, Pharrell and more, the book focuses on how a tennis shoe released in the early 1970s became one of the most important sneakers ever seen. Stan Smith: Some People Think I Am A Shoe is available via the Rizzoli web store now.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE
More than 50 years after he founded Nike, Phil Knight decided to tell his story in this Simon & Schuster-published book. The book begins with Knight aged 24 and keen to start his own business. In Shoe Dog, Phil Knight explains the journey from selling imported Japanese sneakers from the trunk of his car to his position at the top of one of the world’s biggest companies. As well as detailing his huge success, Knight also reveals the risks and setbacks that face any young entrepreneur. Shoe Dog was released in 2016, and is available from Barnes & Noble now.
Sneaker Freaker. The Ultimate Sneaker Book!
As the name suggests, Sneaker Freaker: The Ultimate Sneaker Book tells the story of the blog of the same name. Since it was set up in 2002 — as a way for founder Simon “Woody” Wood to get free sneakers — Sneaker Freaker has become an established footwear voice. The book mixes commentary on current sneaker culture, historical insight and a focus on minute detail of a number of sneakers. Sneaker Freaker shines a spotlight on more than 100 years of sneaker history and mixes established names and brands — including Air Max, Converse and YEEZY — with more obscure labels including Troop, Airwalk and Vision Street Wear. Sneaker Freaker will drop via the Taschen web store in December.
Sneakers: The Complete Limited Editions Guide
As a follow up to the Complete Collector’s Guide, Thames & Hudson’s Sneakers: The Complete Limited Editions Guide highlights 300 of the most exclusive sneakers ever released. Each entry features text explaining the sneaker’s importance, as well as a fact box including edition, year, original purpose, technology and extras. The book features limited-edition releases sorted by brand, with adidas, ASICS, Converse, New Balance, Air Jordan, Puma, Reebok and Vans all getting their own chapter. You can pick up Sneakers: The Complete Limited Editions Guide from Barnes & Noble.
Where’d You Get Those?: New York City’s Sneaker Culture: 1960-1987
Written by Bobbito Garcia, Where’d You Get Those showcases sneaker culture’s history by focusing on the earliest days of the scene in New York. The book documents the lean years of sneaker releases in the 1960s, before turning its focus onto the golden era of 1970-1987. In this section, each sneaker is listed with key facts as well as commentary regarding the cultural significance of each silhouette. Elsewhere, the book features a section on New York City playground basketball legends, and a look at sneakers released after 1987 described as “future underground classics.” You can buy Where’d You Get Those from Amazon now.
Art & Sole: Contemporary Sneaker Art & Design
Rather than focusing on the cultural impact of certain sneakers, Art & Sole: Contemporary Sneaker Art & Design highlights the “creative side of the sneaker scene.” Particularly looking at limited-edition releases and sought after collaborations, the book launched by the blog of the same name explores the crossover between art and sneakers. Key collaborations spotlighted in Art & Sole include Peter Savile, Ben Kelly and Peter Hook’s work with Y-3, and Parra’s ongoing Nike releases. Art & Sole: Contemporary Sneaker Art & Design is available now from the Art & Sole web store.
Simply titled Sneakers, this book from Rodrigo Corral, Alex French and Howie Kahn is one of the most comprehensive guides to the sneaker scene. The contributors list is a who’s who of industry power players, with Patta’s Edson Sabajo documenting a worldwide sneaker hunt, Ronnie Fieg telling the story of KITH, adidas’ Jon Wexler discussing working with Kanye West and Tinker Hatfield looking to the future of footwear. Elsewhere, the book includes exclusive interviews with Virgil Abloh, Alexander Wang and Kobe Bryant. The book released last year, and is available now from the Penguin Random House web store.
Sneaker Wars: The Enemy Brothers Who Founded Adidas and Puma and the Family Feud That Forever Changed the Business of Sport
The split that launched adidas and PUMA is one of the most famous stories in the sneaker world, and Sneaker Wars explains how the Dassler family feud changed the sports industry forever. Written by Barbara Smit, the book tells the story of the feud and its impact, as well as looking at how the brands became two of the biggest brands in the world. Another interesting subject of Sneaker Wars is how the rivalry continued throughout the 20th century. As the two brands competed against each other in terms of product, marketing deals and sponsorships, they unwittingly fueled the rise of the celebrity-endorsement driven sports world of 2018. Sneaker Wars is available now from the Harper Collins web store.
Slam Kicks: Basketball Sneakers That Changed the Game
From the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star to Jordan Brand, basketball sneakers have been some of the most important silhouettes for decades. Slam Kicks: Basketball Sneakers That Changed the Game by Ben Osbourne and Robert “Scoop” Jackson tells the story of some highlights of the genre. The book explains the design and technical advancements of legendary sneakers, as well as listing the athletes who made the shoe famous and how each one became a cultural phenomenon away from the court. You can head over to Amazon to pick up Slam Kicks.