A unique exhibition "Sneakers: eko x ego" has opened at the For Pauls Stradiņš Medicine History Museum in Riga. It is dedicated to the popular sports shoes – sneakers, a symbol of an active and modern lifestyle.
The exhibition is supported by Rietumu Bank and its charity fund Nākotnes Atbalsta fonds (Future Supporting Fund).
For Pauls Stradiņš Medicine History Museum, this exhibition centered around sneakers is an experiment of venturing outside the familiar playing field. Peppered throughout with paradoxes of social history, the course of sports footwear development is a subject that helps make better sense of instances where society’s idea of healthy lifestyle is shaped by consumerist dependency on the commodity market. Sneakers are a distinctly equivocal example of this trend. They are both a symbol of simplicity and comfort and an accessory of social prestige, elevated to the status of a global cult object by brand management.
Regular innovations in the construction of sneakers and choice of materials speak of the manufacturers’ commitment to following the latest orthopedic findings on healthy human posture.
Meanwhile, the rapid succession of new models replacing each other in the sports footwear market leaves an ominous ecological footprint, which has a negative impact on our general wellbeing. Since sneakers are habitually worn not just by sports stars and hip hop icons but also by people of any age and in any number of settings, the exhibition is also an attempt to find the reason behind this hype and hazard a guess as to which aspect will dominate future patterns of sneaker design and consumption: ego or eco?
As notes Jelena Buraja, Chairman of the Board of Rietumu Bank and member of the Council of Nākotnes Atbalsta Fonds: “I am convinced that a healthy lifestyle and a responsible attitude to the environment should be among the priorities of modern business. Keeping this in mind and accordingly acting means taking care of the future of our planet, society, country, and each of us. Over recent years we at Rietumu Bank are working very seriously in this field, implementing the Environmental, Social, and Governance principles. Many others are already doing the same. We all are responsible for our future."
The exhibition includes items from ethnographic 19th-century models to the Latvian-made 3D printer that continues producing new exhibits during the actual run of the show. A collection of the Air Jordan series offers the viewer a panoramic overview of changing trends in sports footwear over the last thirty years. The present day, on the other hand, is frequently represented virtually in the exhibition, for example, by sneaker prototypes designed by artificial intelligence. A prominent place has been given to sustainability solutions: a photographic insight into the adidas laboratories and production plants, a range of novel materials, sneaker merchandising concepts developed to limit consumerism, and new models designed by recycling old footwear.
The exhibition will be open until April 17.