by Jeff Staple (@jeffstaple)

When asked to compile a list like this, two emotions come to mind:

1) A blessed feeling that the long hours and hard work that you put into your craft have been recognized by respected peers and they now, in turn, have asked for your humble opinion.

2) That “BRACE! BRACE! BRACE!” feeling you get when the overhead oxygen masks drop down in the middle of your flight.

There’s bound to be some love and there’s bound to be some hate. (Probably more of the latter.) Let’s get something out the way, people. Statistically speaking, when listing FIFTY of anything, the chances that MY fifty will agree with YOUR fifty are nearly impossible. But, I highly encourage all of you reading this to make your own Top 50 list and share it with me @jeffstaple on Twitter or whatevs… OK.

Now let’s break down the task at hand. Complex asked me to “List my Top 50 Most Influential People In Sneaker History.”

I had to assume that they were asking me because of my experience in sneaker culture, vis a vis, street culture. I think “Sneaker History” can really be told in two parts: 1) When sneaker giants made performance footwear for their esteemed athletes, and then 2) when sneaker companies, both large and independent, made shoes for “a lifestyle”. That new era does not exist because of athletes or performance. It’s based on fashion, style, trend, influencers and whatever other word marketers use today. Together, those two trains of thought make up SNEAKER HISTORY to me. So my list comprises of both: The people that made the sneaker into a viable product. And the people that made the sneaker into a religion. Enjoy. Hate. Criticize. I love you all. #pigeonhustle