It’s all about black-out style with these coolgirl bargain finds.
Statement jewellery instantly switches up an outfit. For strong accents, add an armful of bracelets, a handful of stackable rings and a layer of chain necklaces.
It’s hard to remember the assembly-line versions of the ’80s, because sneakers have re-entered our world so thoroughly that it’s as if they intended to rewrite history and erase all of the bad memories.
The revolution was perhaps made official when Karl Lagerfeld sent couture sneakers down the runway for the second time in his autumn 2014 Chanel supermarket show, and Phoebe Philo walked Céline’s finale in adidas Stan Smiths. Now, not a single person bats an eye at sneakers at a fashion show, whether on the runway or the feet of an editor. And they don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
How did these humble kicks get here in the first place, though? Sneakers have always had a foothold in the music industry: Converse and Vans for the punks and rockers, Nike Air Force 1s and Jordans for the hip-hop crew. Sneakers are important symbols of money, status and style, and with the lines between industries more blurred than ever – Kanye West isn’t only a rapper, he’s a designer, too – fashion’s capitalising on trends via pop culture and street style like never before.
Enter the sneakerhead
Queues outside chain stores curl around city blocks when a sneaker debuts – and even erupt in violence, so ferocious is the desire to slip on the coveted shoe. But what’s the big deal?
“Sneakers were originally designed for sporting activities, so the design of these items took on characteristics and a language of their own not previously seen in footwear,” explains Tull Price, co-founder of Feit, a New York-based Australian sneaker and shoe line. “In sneakers, there’s a continuing evolution of design that makes these products interesting to the eye.” Tull also cites their link to aspirational sports culture and the cycle of releases as big drivers of sneakers’ collectible quality.
And while sneakers often demand exorbitant prices – consider Yeezy Boost 350 sneakers, a collaboration between Kanye West and adidas, which retail for as much as R2 999 (shelflife.co.za) and are virtually impossible to buy – they are typically less expensive than the dressier equivalent of designer heels, and are far more comfortable and practical.
This submission to the practical is particularly interesting. We’ve long been taught that we were supposed to sacrifice comfort for style, but that’s just not the case any longer. When Isabel Marant debuted her wedge sneakers, she allowed fashion girls who cared about height to get there in a more comfortable way. And along with her notable rehabilitation of Birkenstocks, Phoebe Philo made slip-ons chic with a reimagining of Vans back in 2012.
Perhaps paired with our recent devotion to more nutritious food, it’s natural that we would begin to make more healthy choices in fashion, too. Sneakers are like green juice for your feet. Look around and you are likely to spot at least one pair of adidas Stan Smiths. As with better food, the designer upgrades are five times the price of the original, but it seems like a worthy investment; the adidas by Raf Simons reimaginings of Stan Smiths are made of real leather, with impressive attention to detail, and they come in convertible colours.
From Chanel’s iconic tweed to Alexander Wang’s sneaker-inspired mesh heels, material matters when it comes to separating a run-of-the-mill trainer from the designer version. And thanks to models like Gigi Hadid for keeping sneakers in style, we all want to rock a new pair every day. We now see what’s been known for a long time: sneakers are really comfortable.
“sneakers took on a language of their own not previously seen in footwear.”