A few words and images immediately come to mind when I hear the word “sneakers.” Athletes, sports, working out — basically anything that has to do with being physically inclined or fit. What doesn’t come to mind is fashion, runways, models, celebrities. But that’s the surprising thing — recently, the world of high fashion pulled an Angelina Jolie and adopted the sneaker. Gaining traction in 2014 with the emergence of the classic white sneaker on major runways, coupled with everyday not-so-active active-wear, the sneaker trend is still in full force as we near the end of 2015. Some argue that it’s getting out of hand — but is it really?
Kickin’ it old school: Fashion always finds ways to recycle itself. What’s trending is directly pulled from different aspects of culture, street style, Kylie Jenner’s Instagram and so on. One year a design is on the runway, the next it’s marked down for the rest of the world to wear the shit out of it. Sneakers are the perfect example of this. Oh, sneakers. As someone who has never been naturally athletic, sneakers have always been the shoes I wear when I’m doing something that is truly physically demanding, like helping my mother bring the groceries in or when I embark on my once-a-year trip to the CCRB.
I remember the history of them all. Starting with my very first pair of light-up Skechers from way back in the day, I soon graduated to my mandatory Catholic school gym uniform white sneaks (they were even less cool than it sounds). But don’t worry guys, my parents decided to take me shopping for a weekend pair of slip-on DKNY sneakers (needless to say those were only for those hot summer days). Fast-forward to today, a #blessed world where I no longer have a school uniform, light-up shoes are out of style and my parents have stopped picking out my clothing. Fast-forward to today where anyone on the University’s campus can be found in a classic pair of sneakers. Black and gray, roshe flyknit, with that unforgiveable Nike “swoosh,” I’m officially a conformist. But I have no regrets and here’s why:
The comfort factor: While my history with sneakers is both worrisome and complicated, there’s no denying their practicality. When running around Downtown Ann Arbor doing a variety of random shit, it’s nice to have a shoe that is not only wearable for every season, but one that is also comfortable no matter what. The comfort factor extends beyond physicality. Sneakers have become, for me, an accessory that makes me comfortable in my own skin. I know that for whatever outfit I have on, a pair of sneakers will go a long way no matter what.
From a non-athletic girl, to the rest of the world: This is what I like to call the “I’m down to earth and low-key athletic factor.” A pair of shoes, especially customizable sneakers, is something that reflects you. Some people think the eyes are the windows to the soul. First off, that’s definitely something a hippie just made up. And second, think what you want, but a pair of sneakers can tell you a lot about a person as well. Sneakers will customize any outfit and add your own unique style. They can say a lot about your identity in that moment, for that day. Are you trendy, athletic, strong, a hot-mess, allergic to nature, or do you just radiate an air of hipster-esque vibes? The list goes on. People equate “starting over” to moving away and making new friends. I equate a change in identity with a simple change in your sneakers.
In the end there’s nothing like putting an athletic touch on an outfit that has nothing to do with athleticism (guilty).
The options are endless (literally): It’s amazing that we live in a society where I can customize my own sneakers right down to the pattern on the sole of the shoe and have them delivered to my doorstep within a few days. From colors, to texture, from design, to type — it’s overwhelming. Bright-colored sneaks are the shoe of the moment for everyday wear. Matching shoes to one’s outfit is out, and making a statement by what you wear on your feet is in. Apart from average humans, like us college students who are almost always dressed casually, there are those with cause to dress fancier. Models, celebrities, influencers of all types, are starting to pair sneakers with formal wear. Gigi Hadid is often photographed wearing the same pair of classic white Adidas sneakers on various occasions, from running errands to going clubbing. Ball gowns, suits, tuxedos — a pair of quality sneakers can go a long way.
But of course, with so many options, there’s room for chaos to ensue, and this chaos comes in the form of hideous designs and lack of consideration for the masses — the spawn of overzealous designers. The most hideous byproduct that comes to mind is the wedge sneaker. A shoe that is an entity of its own should not be fused with something else, least of all a wedge. Another — while they are sleek and beautiful in design — the $20,000 eBay price tag on a pair of Adidas Yeezys is enough to make Donald Trump cringe. Listen to the kids, Kanye.
The world of fashion — and style itself — is cyclical. Just a few years ago I thought I would never be caught dead in anything suede, fringed or entirely made of jean, and yet that is exactly what’s trending. There’s something liberating and almost comical about it, really. In regards to the shoe of the year, there’s a refreshing touch about something as simple as a pair of ripped blue jeans and some fresh-to-death sneakers.