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Pierre Hardy Poworama


Curator Robert Cook


  the rise of sneaker culture

  13 May - 4 September 2017 | FREE






Originating at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, The Rise of Sneaker Culture is the first museum exhibition in North America, and now in Australia, to examine the sneaker’s complex and fascinating social history, from its origins in the mid-nineteenth century to its role in the present day as a status symbol of urban culture.

With its dynamic combination of scholarship and popular appeal, Perth audiences will be introduced to iconic and incredibly rare shoes from the 1830s to today.

The Rise of Sneaker Culture features sneakers from a range of significant private collectors, museums, and archives, including Adidas AG, Converse Archives, Kosow Sneaker Museum, Nike Archives, Northampton Museums and Art Gallery, and Reebok Archives.

Among them are an 1860s spiked running shoe, an original 1923 Converse All Star/Non Skid, a pair of 1936 track shoes, the original Air Force 1, and early Adidas Superstars, as well as contemporary sneaker collaborations with prominent figures such as Damien Hirst, Jeremy Scott, Rihanna, Kanye West, and many others.

The Rise of Sneaker Culture also features sneakers and related prototype drawings from the archives of Nike, which span the career of legendary sneaker designer Tinker Hatfield, as well as a complete presentation of Air Jordans I–XX3 on loan from the Kosow Sneaker Museum which highlight the pivotal role this coveted series of sneakers has played in the rise of contemporary sneaker culture.

Sneakers have long been loved as a staple of casual fashion, transcending gender, age, and socioeconomic categories to become the footwear of choice for billions across the globe. The selection of approximately 150 sneakers in The Rise of Sneaker Culture will be richly contextualised with film footage, photographic images, and design drawings, creating a backdrop of the social history, technical innovation, fashion trends, and marketing campaigns that have helped shape contemporary sneaker culture over the past two centuries.


WA Sneakers

April – 4 September 2017 | Free

As part of the SNEAKERHEADS season and accompanying the exhibition The Rise of Sneaker Culture will be a range of programs aimed at showcasing and celebrating the buoyant sneaker culture of Western Australia. Bringing local collections out of the closet and into the public realm of the Gallery, AGWA will present sneaker displays that pay homage to the passion, knowledge and pride of West-side sneakerheads. These programs will also include interviews and digital presentations that focus on the importance of sneakers for everyday aficionados as a vehicle for personal and cultural expression.


culture juice

Culture Juice, the Gallery’s new contemporary culture strand, will see the launch of two major projects in 2017, and more beyond. A new collaboration with the WA Museum presenting Heath Ledger: A Life in Pictures and the SNEAKERHEADS season, which is a multi-dimensional celebration of sneaker culture, including the Perth exclusive showing of the US exhibition The Rise of Sneaker Culture.


Organised by

American Federation of Arts logo     Bata Shoe Museum logo

Major Partner for presentation at AGWA

Act Belong Commit logo      Healthway logo


The Rise of Sneaker Culture is organised by the American Federation of Arts and the Bata Shoe Museum.
The exhibition is curated by Elizabeth Semmelhack, Senior Curator of the Bata Shoe Museum.


About the American Federation of Arts

The American Federation of Arts is the leader in travelling exhibitions internationally. A nonprofit organisation founded in 1909, the AFA is dedicated to enriching the public’s experience and understanding of the visual arts through organising and touring art exhibitions for presentation in museums around the world, publishing exhibition catalogues featuring important scholarly research, and developing educational programs. For more information about the AFA, visit

About the Bata Shoe Museum

The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, Canada, is an internationally acclaimed museum that boasts a collection of more than 13,000 artifacts spanning 4,500 years of history and actively supports a mandate to collect, research, exhibit and publish on the cultural, historical, and sociological value of footwear. For more information, visit

Pierre Hardy

Poworama 2011

Collection of the Bata Shoe Museum, gift of Pierre Hardy
Photo: Ron Wood

Courtesy American Federation of Arts/Bata Shoe Museum

adidas x Run–DMC
25th Anniversary Superstar 2011
Courtesy of Run–DMC, collection of Erik Blam
Photo: Ron Wood
Courtesy American Federation of Arts/Bata Shoe Museum



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