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How sneakers became a $79 billion business—and an undisputed cultural symbol for our times

Sneakers, once the symbol of athleticism, have transcended their primary function to become commercial and fashionable objects of desire. From sportswear and street style to catwalk fashion, sneakers have made their mark as cultural commodities.

The global sneaker market was valued at approximately $79 billion in 2020 and is predicted to reach $120 billion by 2026. With such huge growth, it is unsurprising that sneakers are considered big business.

Such are the strides in the sneaker industry that a new exhibition at London’s Design Museum explores how the shoe became an undisputed cultural symbol of our times.

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