Sneakerhead Book Club

Sneakerhead Book Club: The Ultimate Sneaker Book by Sneaker Freaker

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Sneakerhead Book Club is a semi-regular series reviewing, you guessed it, books about the kicks you love. In this third edition, we leaf through Basketball Sneakers That Changed The Game from Slam Kicks.

If you’re looking for some light bedtime reading, this ain’t the book for you.

Don’t get me wrong: the content is very digestible no matter what time of day you pick it up. The problem? Physically picking it up.

The Ultimate Sneaker Book by the fine folks at Sneaker Freaker magazine weighs in at a whopping 8 pounds. My mid-30s back almost gave way when I picked it up to bring it inside my apartment.

But don’t let that deter you in any way. The Ultimate Sneaker Book not only lives up to its ambitious title, it exceeds it in every single way.

For those not familiar. Sneaker Freaker is an independent magazine celebrating kicks culture whose first issue hit newsstands in its native Melbourne, Australia, in 2002. The mag, which is published twice yearly, was part of founder and editor Simon “Woody” Wood’s grand scheme to get sneaker companies to send him free shoes. It appears to have worked.

The Ultimate Sneaker Book is a compendium of almost two decades of the magazine staff’s reporting on, you guessed it, sneakers. It includes basically every sneaker you could think of that released before 2018, when the book was published.

As I’ve mentioned in the previous two editions of Sneakerhead Book Club, even the most seasoned of footwear enthusiasts will learn something between these hard-bound covers. More than 600 pages of articles, interviews, vintage print ads, product photos cover everything from Air Max to Yeezy.

As with any good book about sneaker industry titans, there are of course comprehensive chapters on the Jordan line as well as the aforementioned Air Max and Yeezy ranges.

But where The Ultimate Sneaker Book really shines is in the silhouettes, collections and innovations in between those big names. Want to learn about the history of Nike’s Flyknit and adidas’s Primeknit? Look no further than page 36. Where did the Nike ACG program find its roots? You’ll find that on page 182. Dying to up your street knowledge of PONY or Bobbito Garcia? You guessed it: that’s in here too.

In fact, the sheer depth of this book is such that I must confess: I’ve barely made a dent in it, and that’s not for lack of trying. I swear every time I’ve turned the page I’ve stumbled across one factoid or another, and as well as a great resource for those in the sneaker industry (such as myself), it’s genuinely an interesting read.

Some favorites of mine:

  • The genesis of the Nike All Conditions Gear (ACG) program, which itself grew from the Considered initiative that gave life to Swoosh practices that are still running today;
  • An interview with Paul Litchfield, the man who headed up development of the Reebok Pump, Hexalite and ERS cushioning;
  • The original Jacques Slade tweet, featuring a snap surreptitiously taken from the cabin of a commercial flight, that gave the world its first glimpse of the adidas Yeezy BOOST 750 prototype;
  • The rise and fall of Troop, the brand rocked by LL Cool J that disappeared as fast as it arrived on the scene in the late 1980s.

The Ultimate Sneaker Book is a bottomless wealth of footwear knowledge that every enthusiast should add to their collections.

As long as you’ve got a reinforced bookshelf, that is.

Where to cop

Got a suggested title for Sneakerhead Book Club? Shoot us an email with your recommendations, or let us know if you’d like to submit a review of your own.