Culture Juice – The Rise of Sneaker Culture

Culture Juice – The Rise of Sneaker Culture

More than 150 rare and iconic sneakers are now in Perth. 

After popular showings in Toronto, Brooklyn and Atlanta, the international exhibition The Rise of Sneaker Culture is on display at AGWA for its only Australian presentation. 

The Rise of Sneaker Culture is the first exhibition to explore the complex social history and cultural significance of the footwear now worn by billions of people throughout the world. 

On display are shoes from the archives of Adidas, Converse, Nike and Puma, as well as private collectors such as legendary hip-hop group Run-DMC, sneaker guru Bobbito Garcia (Kool Bob Love) and Dee Wells of Obsessive Sneaker Disorder. Also featured are sneaker collaborations between celebrities, artists and high-end fashion houses, including Kanye West, Damien Hirst, Prada, and Lanvin.

Among the shoes on display 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. Also featured is a complete presentation of Air Jordans I–XX3 on loan from the Kosow Sneaker Museum.

Film footage, interactive media, photographic images, and design drawings contextualise the sneakers and explore the social history, technical innovations, fashion trends, and marketing campaigns that have shaped sneaker culture over the past two centuries.

2pm, Wednesday – Sunday
Just for kicks, join one of our fab Guru Guides for a short introduction to the world of sneakers.

Or get a group together and book a free guided tour! Teachers can book guided tours and art workshops for primary, secondary, tertiary and access education groups. To discuss the free and paid tour options please contact

Alongside The Rise of Sneaker Culture, we're proudly presenting WA sneaker collector displays that pay homage to the passion, knowledge and pride of West-side sneakerheads.

Learn more about the WA Collectors

Got a sneaker story to share? We want to hear it! To celebrate the opening of The Rise of Sneaker Culture we’re giving you the chance to win a trip for two to San Francisco, thanks to Singapore Airlines, simply by sharing your favourite sneaker story via Instagram.

Learn more about the competition

These Thomas Dutton and Thorowgood running shoes are thought to be the oldest in existence.
[Thomas Dutton and Thorowgood / Running shoe, 1860-65 / Northampton Museums and Art Gallery]

Exhibition Highlights


Sneakerheads logo


As part of the SNEAKERHEADS season and accompanying the exhibition The Rise of Sneaker Culture is a range of programs aimed at showcasing and celebrating the buoyant sneaker culture of Western Australia.

Explore the connections with design, sport, fashion and music through collaborations with Curtin University and Fashion Council WA on designing the WA Sneaker; the Department of Sport and Recreation on My Sneaker Story; WA Music on sneaker sounds; and the second AGWA Art Ball.

Highs and Lows Pop-up Shop

10am-5pm, 13 May – 4 September 2017
Celebrated sneaker retailer, Highs and Lows, has set up shop at AGWA in an exciting retail collaboration. Check out their pop-up store for the latest kicks and limited edition merchandise.

The winner of the AGWA Shop competition - Purchase any SNEAKERHEADS key ring or pin at the AGWA Shop and enter the draw to win a signed set of six sneaker mugs - is Emma Tierney.


Highs and Lows sneaker design   Highs and Lows branded AGWA t-shirts   Highs and Lows sneaker design   Highs and Lows branded AGWA t-shirt

The Conversation

This is a thought-provoking and informative exhibition…

Clarissa Ball
Lecturer in History of Art, University of Western Australia
The West Australian

Walking through the exhibition, it becomes quickly apparent just how much these shoes are genuine works of art. It’s quite dazzling, and surprising, and magical.

William Yeoman
Arts Writer

Organised by                                                   Major Partner for presentation at AGWA

American Federation of Arts and the Bata Shoe Museum logos

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.

Coordinating Curator, Robert Cook, AGWA Curator of Contemporary Design and International Art.

Sneakerheads Partners

Sneakerheads partner logos

  Media Partners

NOVA and APN Outdoor logos

AGWA is closed until 16 October for a final stage of redevelopment works. Details