Forged in Fire. Why Vulcanised trainers are the godfather of sneakers
Vans, Converse and Feiyue all have something in common. Over a century of history and one very key element of their sneakers that “bonds” them together (sorry for the pun!). It’s there vulcanised sole. Any sneakerhead worth their salt knows what this means and why its creation started the sneaker revolution.
What is a vulcanised sole?
Back in the 1800s the trainers that we know and love simply hadn’t been invented. People were wearing adapted versions of traditional leather shoes/soles for the sporting activity that was just not cut out for the pursuits of sporting activity.
That all changed when some clever scientists discovered that by heating rubber with sulphur you created a durable but flexible material. This was aptly named Vulcanised rubber, after the Roman god ‘Vulcan’ the god of fire and forging.
Vulcanised rubbers original main use was for Tyres, but it then formed the base of the first sneakers we would recognise today.
Why is it important?
Put simply we wouldn’t have sneakers today if it wasn’t for the creation of the vulcanised sole. It was the foundation for the first sneakers that were durable and flexible. Ideal for sporting activity and everyday use. Some of the coolest and most iconic sneakers we have today continue to use a vulcanised sole given its superior durability, flexibility and feel of the ground beneath you.
What shoes are vulcanised?
Arguably the most iconic sneaker silhouette of all time the Converse Chuck Taylor.
The iconic Vans skater shoe.
Canvas uppers are preferred to synthetic materials as you must literally oven bake the shoes meaning heat resistance also is a must.
Most recently Virgil Abloh gave a shout out to the process with the word “Vulcanized” emblazoned on the side of one of his OFF-WHITE Converse creations. His own shoe range also uses the process.
What more can I say, we wouldn’t be here today if Vulcanise didn’t pave the way.
About the author:
Matty Derwent is a UK based entrepreneur who owns his own branding and e-commerce company (Vulcanize), has acted as a director for leading energy tech companies who’ve raised over five million pounds in funding and is a distributor for a leading trainer brand (Feiyue).
He’s an avid blogger/social media user on Instagram and LinkedIn, with 20,000 + followers on each platform.
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