A plimsoll shoe, plimsole, or plimsoll is a type of athletic shoe with a canvas upper and rubber sole, developed as beachwear in the 1830s by the Liverpool Rubber Company (later to become Dunlop). The shoe was originally, and often still is in parts of the UK, called a 'sand shoe' and acquired the nickname 'plimsoll' in the 1870s. This name derived, according to Nicholette Jones' book "The Plimsoll Sensation", because the coloured horizontal band joining the upper to the sole resembled the Plimsoll line on a ship's hull, or because, just like the Plimsoll line on a ship, if water got above the line of the rubber sole, the wearer would get wet.
As it was commonly used for corporal punishment in the British Commonwealth, where it was the typical gym shoe (part of the school uniform), plimsolling is also a synonym for a slippering. They were generally black or white with a few in brown.
In most of English-speaking North America, they are known as sneakers or tennis shoes, depending on the regional dialect. In Australia and other places such footwear is still referred to as a sandshoe, and include the similar shoe, the Dunlop Volley. In the UK these shoes were compulsory in schools' physical education lessons and today are still generally known as Plimsolls or pumps. Regional terms are common for these. In Northern Ireland and central Scotland they are usually known as gutties; "sannies" (from 'sand shoe') is also used in Scotland. In parts of Southern England and Wales they are known as "daps" or "dappers". There is a widespread belief that "daps" is taken from a factory sign - "Dunlop Athletic Plimsoles" which was called "the DAP factory". However, this seems unlikely as the first citation in the Oxford English Dictionary of "dap" for a rubber soled shoe is a March 1924 use in the Western Daily Press newspaper; Dunlop did not acquire the Liverpool Rubber Company (as part of the merger with the Macintosh group of companies) until 1925.
In South Africa they are called tekkies and in East Africa Tackies allegedly because that is how the rubber went in the sun.
In India, white plimsolls are often worn by school children and are known as Keds. The brown version is used by most police and military units as a gym training shoe; they are also part of the uniform of a batman (military).
The Plimsoll has become an icon of many generations—and music genres, including Grunge, hip-hop, emo and gangsta rap. In the early months of 2008, the Plimsoll shoe within the UK became a major fashion statement, with many celebrities such as Pete Doherty and other stars influencing their comeback. They are generally worn with tight fitting jeans (also known as Drainpipe jeans) or jeans with turned up bottoms.
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