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The World’s Oldest Existing Running Shoe

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Nike. Adidas. New Balance. And… these?

Yes, what you’re looking at is a running shoe – the world’s oldest. Take a quick glance at the smooth black leather and the stacked heel, and you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a vintage dress shoe.

Take a closer look and you’ll notice spikes protruding from the sole. Then a band of leather across the instep. The former for increased traction, the latter for added support. Add them together and the true purpose of the shoe becomes clear.

The Thomas Dutton and Thorowgood running shoe dates back to the 1860s. “Pedestrianism,” or competitive walking, was on the rise and participants needed purpose-built footwear. This pair is currently on display at the Brooklyn Museum’s “The Rise of Sneaker Culture” exhibition alongside other notable running shoes.

Observe the earliest inkling of our obsession with sneakers, then be thankful for your Asics.


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