Light Up Shoes: The Evolution
Can you think of a more iconic symbol of 90s kids fashion than L.A. Gear light up trainers? Those big, chunky shoes in bright colours with flashing lights, marketed with classic cringey TV adverts to match, were the big thing to have. Since they were released, light up shoes became a status symbol of the cool kids on the playground and the object of envy for anyone who didn’t have a pair.
With our light up trainers more popular than ever, we’ve taken a look at how the trend began over 20 years ago, and their evolution from an iconic kid’s fashion accessory, to one of the most popular rising trends for 2017.
90s: The rise of the sneaker
By the 90s, sneaker-style shoes had rapidly risen in popularity, and clothing retailers had taken advantage of this with celebrity endorsements from athletes including NBA legend Michael Jordan, who was often seen on the basketball court in his L.A. Gear shoes.
Brands were constantly competing against each other to come up with the most innovative, high performance shoe on the market. It was around this time that L.A. Gear, founded by Robert Greenberg in 1979, decided to shift its focus from an upscale women’s retailer, to shoes and, more specifically, children’s shoes.
1992: The birth of light ups
In 1992 L.A. Gear released the first ever pair of light up shoes for kids, and they instantly became a huge hit all over the world. In those days, there wasn’t a kid around who wasn’t mesmerized with the flashing LEDs that lit up on your heels as you ran through the playground, and almost instantly, light up trainers became the hottest thing to have.
The enormous craze for light up trainers meant L.A. Gear sold over 5 million pairs of their original light up shoes in just 12 months! This popularity continued for years, with the demand always high, right up until...
1998: L.A. Gear’s downfall
Eventually, parents and media outlets caught on to the fact that all light up shoes contained a small amount of mercury to enable them to light up, and newspapers soon became awash with concern over the health risks this posed to children.
The trend for light ups eventually faded amidst the media-storm, and sales of the shoes began to fall dramatically. Eventually, L.A. Gear truly collapsed due to the nosedive their stocks and sales took, filing for bankruptcy in 1998 and taking down their most revolutionary product with them.
2000s: A slow rise
Light up trainers have only recently come back around in fashion, so the 2000s didn’t see much in the way of a return for the trend. Like all good things though, light up shoes have only gotten better over time. New, innovative technology created USB-chargeable LED lights that can cycle through a range of colours and contain no mercury - creating a safer manufacturing method right in time for the next generation.
The rise of festival culture, sharing on social media and a growing demand from millennials for fun, spontaneous styles set up the perfect circumstances for light up shoes to truly make a comeback as a statement trend and this time, they wouldn’t be reserved to just children!
2015: The birth of BEAM
The year BEAM was founded. Joint founders Serena and Gus recognised a huge gap in the market for light up shoes - for adults. Of course, they were right, and since conception the popularity of our brand of quality light up trainers has grown unbelievably - just check out this list of celebrities most recently seen spotted in their own pair of BEAMs!
Our focus is fun, spontaneous shoes that let you take the party with you, and our customers take that message and run with it, literally! With safe, USB-rechargeable batteries, the LED lights in the shoes contain zero mercury - providing a safer option than their retro ancestors with a lifetime of over 8 hours per charge.
Now: Full Circle
At BEAM, we always like to stay one step ahead of the game. That’s why we’ve gone full circle, and released our latest range of light up shoes for children. We’ve taken inspiration from our best-selling Original style for adults, and created our kid’s trainers with two classic colours: blue and white.
Our kid’s shoes have a retro-feel with velcro straps, truly throwing our style back to the 90s when we remember our very own first pair of light ups. The same quality, with the same original, fun message; kids light up shoes are back big-time and we’re proud to have created a product that even a whole family could kick-back and enjoy!
Check out our full range of adults and kids light up shoes to find the perfect style for you today. We’ve teamed up with the charities Love Specs and LSU, donating £2 for every pair of Original Series they sell, so while you’re partying the night away in your new BEAMs, you’ll know your money has gone to an outstanding cause.