Sneakers gave fashion its kick this decade
At this rate, we’ll never have to martyr ourselves in high heels again
I was dashing up an escalator in a mall during rush hour. As I looked down to trace my steps, I noticed that every foot to my right was clad in sneakers – there were teens in Air Force 1s, bashed-up Converse and Vans, a chic 30-something woman in Vejas, an impossibly edgy guy in black Yeezys, a couple of tourists in Skechers, a mom wrangling with a buggy in floral lace-ups and an older man in sleek, anonymous brown leather sneakers. None of these people appeared to be en route to the gym; instead, as an accidental flashmob, they summed up the biggest trend of the decade: sneaker domination.
It’s difficult to trace the genesis of a look that is now so mass it’s infiltrated settings that would have been unimaginable a decade ago – overlapping dress codes from front rows, hipster hangouts, political campaign trails and royal weddings to the red carpets, skate parks and sports stadiums. And really, this is the story of dozens of subculture, fashion and retail movements merging into a trend that unifies people of every taste and generation – even my fashion-agnostic grandfather looks au courant now that he wears Hi-Tec sneakers.
If there’s one moment that sums up the sneaker’s graduation from sporting essential to fashion must-have (and eventual wardrobe staple), it happened at Paris Fashion Week in 2011. British designer Phoebe Philo – who was fast becoming the high priestess of all that was considered modern thanks to the aesthetic she was introducing at French fashion house Céline – ran out to take her post-show bow wearing a khaki polo neck, skinny tailored black trousers and Stan Smith sneakers. The seemingly simple outfit spoke of a new desire for practicality, ease and sportiness...