Hardly just a shoe for athletic purposes anymore, sneakers have gained momentum in style and design and have become a status symbol, especially among the urban luxe crowd.
There’s a reason why every time we watch Cribs, a rapper shows off his closet full of envy-inducing rows and rows of finely crafted sneakers. Nowadays these babies are everything from bold to bedazzled to breath-takingly beautiful. and everything in between.
Designer houses have hopped on board with the sneaker phenomenon as well, creating a whole new market for the haute-heeled men and women sneakerheads out there.
How did sneakers go from frumpy to fabulous? Why it’s all about the styling, darlings. A truly well-made sneaker isn’t just there to razzle dazzle the masses (although in appearance, of course it does) but serves a function as well.
Whether it’s for running marathons, shooting hoops, or strolling around the neighborhood, athletic footwear is there to provide support for your tired tootsies and ensure they stay well-cushioned while you dunk. Sneaker functionality depends on what type of activity they’re specifically being designed for. Walking shoes bear the weight of the body in the heel area, whereas runners carry the weight on the ball of the feet.
Other areas aside from cushioning to consider are ventilation (nothing’s worse than a beautiful shoe that ends up reeking after a couple good workouts), impact minimalizing, sole thickness and tongue width. It’s impossible to sum up the ideal design for a sneaker since function is extremely key.
Now for the fun stuff. Urban clothing has been made into a huge luxury industry, with credit given largely to the mainstream popularity of rappers and the widespread admiration of ballin’ lifestyles of NBA players. Strutting around in your jeans, jerseys and sneakers has never looked so money. Add designer collaborations and big names like Kanye West and even the most not-athletic fashion mavens are taking notice!
West has done two collections of sneakers now for Louis Vuitton (one of the most celeb-friendly design houses there is), both wildly successful.
While some critics were weary of how much actual designing West put into the line, the branding of sneakers with arguably the most famous name in rap and one of the biggest haute couture houses in the world spoke volumes. Sneakerheads around the world could announce with smug satisfaction: “We’ve arrived!”
The popularity of West’s surprisingly refined line of Vuitton sneakers spawned a trend of designer sneakers worn not just for sports but to clubs, high-profile events and everywhere in between.
Famed shoe designer Christian Louboutin gave sneakers his Midas touch, creating a spike version complete with his signature red soles. While definitely more style than function (unless you wanted to play seriously dirty during a game—those spikes are deadly!), the shoes sold out like hotcakes and even produced several knock-off versions from lesser-expensive retailers.
Designer styles of sneakers have become increasingly popular and coveted, to the point that athletic brands are now emulating their styles. The influence of athletic shoes has gone from the sports companies impacting designers and back full circle. From the blue, red and beige Gucci colors to the all-over bold colors of Kanye’s line, designer touches have trickled down back to the masses.
Urban culture has been a force to be reckoned with and sneakers are its strongest fashion force thus far. Urban-savvy celebrities such as Justin Timberlake have been known to walk the red carpet in sick suits and even slicker sneakers making for the ultimate blend of high fashion and street style.
From the streets to the runway and back to the streets, a hybrid of couture and city has created a new niche of exciting and wearable trends for the fashion masses.
The casual yet chic fashionista in me is delighted—then again, put Louboutin spikes on anything and I’m sold!
See you on the streets, sneakerheads!