Sneaker Freaker by John Wood, pub. Taschen. 5 stars Sneaker Freaker magazine was launched in Australia 16 years ago by sneaker enthusiast Simon Wood, partly as a way of getting free trainers. Since then, the independent mag has evolved into the bible of the trainer world, bringing sneakerheads all they need to know about the latest releases and trends. The knock-off sneaker trade: from Putian, China, to fans everywhere Now the magazine has done the unexpected by joining forces with boutique publisher Taschen to release a big, fat coffee table book combining the best of the magazine with some exclusively created content. Sneakerheads can usually be found with their eyes glued to Instagram rather than poring over the pages of a book, but this one should change their minds. Wood’s Sneaker Freaker: The Ultimate Sneaker Book presents 650 beautifully designed pages of sneaker culture. It covers almost 100 years of history, features many of the world’s favourite brands (and quite a few more), top designers, passionate collectors and customisers. And best of all, it is packed full of stunning pictures of seemingly every trainer released since casual shoes were invented. Popular brands such as Nike, Adidas, Puma and Converse are showcased, as well as major designers such as Kanye West and Nigo from A Bathing Ape. Wood perfectly chronicles the history of sneaker culture, dividing the book into sections illustrating landmark moments in the sneaker story. Wood takes in the art of advertising and branding, and draws on different writers who provide insights into the booming sneaker industry. For example, Rob Marfell tackles the battle between Nike and Adidas, concluding that Nike currently has the upper hand. Many people tend to think of sneaker culture as a modern phenomenon, but Sneaker Freaker puts it into historical context. The complete guide to Nike Air Max, a personal favourite and one of the culture’s most important product ranges, is a good example; it outlines changes in the shoe’s appearance and technology down the years. Another stand-out section is the timeline of the Converse All Star, showing the evolution of the world’s first sneaker. It is fascinating to see how this distinctive shoe has evolved since its debut in the 1920s. Many readers will also be drawn to the comprehensive guide to Air Jordan models, with each design accompanied by vital details such as the release date, price and designer. It is a fitting tribute to one of the most important lines in sneaker history. But Sneaker Freaker is not just about the shoes. Influential designers are also interviewed, including West, a controversial but significant player in the sneaker world. The book charts his rise in the fashion industry, from his stint with Nike to his work with Louis Vuitton and, of course, Adidas. Sneakerhead Horace Leung Has Collected Over 600 Pairs of Kicks The interview with customiser Dapper Dan will appeal to those who, like myself, are keen on adapting, upgrading and redesigning trainers. Dapper Dan has customised shoes and clothes for some of the music industry’s biggest names, and Sneaker Freaker explains his influence on sneaker culture and the legal battles he has faced. Sneaker Freaker is almost too heavy to pick up, but once you do, you won’t want to put it down. The only problem is that you cannot wear it.