Air Jordan 1
Image via Kicks on Fire

First impressions are crucial. When encountering someone or something for the first time, your perception of the introduction sticks with you. For sneaker brands, the right first impression can lead to years of fruitful business, game-changing designs, and landmark endorsements. Without this early foundation, the brands we know and love today could very well cease to exist. Take a look back at the starting point for some of your favorite companies in The First Shoe from Each Major Performance Footwear Brand.

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Riley Jones is a freelance writer from Charlottesville, VA and a contributor to Sneaker Report. With an unshakable affinity for basketball and all things ’90s, he can be found on Twitter @rchrstphr.

Converse All Star
Image via Average Joe's Blog

No. 1 – Converse

Year: 1917
Shoe: All-Star

Before Chuck Taylor jumped on board in 1921, his eponymous model was simply the Converse All-Star. Although its canvas upper and rubber outsole may seem dated by today’s standards, they were actually ahead of their time and were THE shoe for hoops before eventually becoming a pop culture icon.  Today, it’s known for being the best selling sneaker ever.

JW Foster Reebok
Image via Wordpress

No. 2 – JW Foster and Sons (Reebok)

Year: 1920s
Shoe: Running Pumps

While it’s hard to pinpoint the exact date that JW Foster and Sons introduced their running pumps, we do know that they were spotted on feet at the 1924 Summer Olympics. A little over three decades later, the brand would branch off into Reebok, kick starting the ‘90s basketball and CrossFit powerhouse.

adidas Track and Field Shoe
Image via Design Boom

No. 3 – adidas

Year: 1925
Shoe: Track Spike

Adi Dassler created his first track spike in 1925 for sprinting and middle distances up to 800 meters. After a few tweaks, his spikes were commonplace at Olympic events, and the rest is history. From the unforgettable Jesse Owens story to more modern triumphs such as Björn Borg, Tim Duncan, and Derrick Rose, the Three Stripes have come a long way since these goatskin spikes.

Puma Atom 1948
Image via Puma

No. 4 – Puma

Year: 1948
Shoe: Atom

After founding adidas with his brother Adolf, Rudolf Dassler broke off and formed Puma in 1948. With no time wasted, Puma introduced the Atom football boot (Super Atom Model pictured). And in 1950, in the first post-WWII football match, the cleats were worn by a number of notable players including Herbert Burdenski of West Germany.

Onitsuka Basketball Shoe
Image via Design Boom

No. 5 – Onitsuka (Asics)

Year: 1949
Shoe: Tiger Basketball Shoes

Ontisuka and Asics are often associated with running sneakers, but did you know they got their start on the hardwood? In 1949, the brand launched their first sneaker, a high-top basketball model, in Japan. It featured a canvas upper and a specially designed rubber sole to help players with quick transitions on the court.

New Balance Trackster
Image via EZ 4 Men

No. 6 - New Balance

Year: 1960
Shoe: Trackster

New Balance got their start by literally equipping runners with new balances; from 1905 to 1960, the company sold arch supports inspired by the support that a chicken gets from its claws. But in 1960, they introduced the Trackster, which introduced the rippled sole, as well as different width sizes, to the world of running sneakers.

K Swiss Original
Image via Sneaker Freaker

No. 7 - K-Swiss

Year: 1966
Shoe: K-Swiss Classic

At Wimbledon 1966, the crispy white leather K-Swiss Classic made its first appearance. Since then, the iconic model has remained a staple everywhere from tennis courts to school hallways.

Nike Moon Shoe
Image via Today Made

No. 8 - Nike

Year: 1972
Shoe: Moon Shoe

The first shoe from the Swoosh was actually a 1970 soccer cleat called the Nike, but it was never made available publicly. In 1972, they introduced the Moon Shoe, which was famous for its textured sole created from Bill Bowerman's waffle iron. The Moon Shoe was first laced up by Track & Field competitors in the 1972 Olympic Trials, and two years later they introduced the Waffle Trainer.

Brooks Vantage
Image via Run Blogger

No. 9 - Brooks Running

Year: Mid-1970s
Shoe: Vantage

In 1975, Brooks broke ground by introducing the first EVA-based midsole to the market. The foam makeup has since become an industry standard, and in 1977 Brooks applied it to the Vantage model which was also notable for being the first running sneaker designed to correct overpronation.

Air Jordan 1
Image via Kicks on Fire

No. 10 - Air Jordan

Year: 1985
Shoe: Air Jordan 1

Banned. Black and red. Chicago. There's not much to say about the Air Jordan 1 that you haven't read before, but do you remember its original price tag? 65 bucks. With that in mind, take a look at what 2013's "Bred" Retro is fetching on eBay.

UA Speed Metal
Image via MultiVu

No. 11 - Under Armour

Year: 2006
Shoe: Speed Metal

The latest brand to join the field is Under Armour, who took their performance apparel expertise to the sneaker industry in 2006. With their memorable Click-Clack campaign, it was clear UA had arrived and meant serious business. The initial line included a few football cleats, but the Speed Metal was the highlight of the pack.

Newton Motion 1
Image via Run Blogger

No. 11 - Newton Running

Year: 2007
Shoe: Motion 1

In 2007, Newton came sprinting out of the gates with the Motion 1. Priced at $175, Newton's sneakers boasted design and technology inspired by science. With a natural feel and tried and heavy doses of breathable mesh, the Motion 1 served as the introduction for one of running's most exciting brands.

RELATED: The 50 Most Influential Sneaker Sponsorships in Sports History
RELATED:
The 100 Best Running Sneakers of All Time

Riley Jones is a freelance writer from Charlottesville, VA and a contributor to Sneaker Report. With an unshakable affinity for basketball and all things ’90s, he can be found on Twitter @rchrstphr.

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