I can remember a time when, if caught wearing trainers outside of a gym or a park, a friend would ask if I’d walked to work that morning or, maybe, was I planning to go for a run? I was a proud early adopter of wearing trainers to non-sporting occasions to the point that a colleague once told me I shouldn’t wear them to the office if I wanted to be taken seriously. I didn’t listen. All I cared about was being comfortable and prepared for the day ahead. Now, I‘m glad I didn’t listen, because trainers haven’t just become acceptable, they’ve become aspirational - and that’s the first time, (and most probably the last) that I can say I was ahead of the curve.
Ever since sneakers reinvented themselves as a sartorial statement, arguably fashion’s most significant contribution to the feminist revival of the last 7 or so years, promoting comfort and agility (hallelujah) over a structured stiletto - trainers are a firm fixture in style circles. Spotted at the Met Gala (thank you Serena Williams - below), on the catwalk, on celebrities, with anything and everything, sneakers are here and they are gloriously refusing to move. If you’re still left to be converted, I promise you there’s no turning back. When I first started seeing my now boyfriend, he showed up after 6 months of dating with a pair of Air Force 1 Flyknits for me. That’s when I knew he was a keeper...
Obsession with trainers and 'sneakerhead' culture is nothing new (sports folk have been in the game a long time) but thanks to fashion’s adoption of the humble trainer, and the chic makeover of street and sportswear more generally, mainstream designers are collaborating with sneaker brands too. Stella McCartney and Adidas are producing planet-friendly footwear, Raf Simons has designed for Adidas,COMME des GARÇONS teamed up first with Converse (below) and now Nike and Reebok have teamed with global fashion stars such as Rihanna and Gigi Hadid respectively. And it’s a serious business. Some of Off-White’s collaboration with Nike retails for well over £1000.
Collaborations aside, labels themselves have begun producing kicks that are as sought-after as those with celebrity connections. Balenciaga's ugly trainer offerings - both the bulky trainer (see main image) and the sock trainer - have become so in demand that imitations can be seen across the high street, while Fendi's homage to Fila demonstrates just how high fashion sportswear has become. In fact, the value of sneakers is so great that in 2018, Josh Luber launched StockX - a stock exchange specifically for trainers, as well as handbags and watches. Designer trainers and exclusive collaborations have become some of the most desirable accessories money can buy.
And so it looks like our trainer obsession is here to stay. And what I love about it is the democracy of it all. Sure, you can chase the latest collaboration, drop a small fortune and queue up outside an east London store for a limited edition. But you don’t have to: you can find a cool pair of sneakers in a few clicks for an affordable price. And that’s why this obsession is lasting - everyone can have an in. And who wouldn’t want to? Trainer’s are the rarest of fashion friends - comfortable, useful, durable, everyday and chic. I’m guessing they’re going to be around for a lot longer yet.
Adidas Alphaedge 4D shoes Women Adidas by Stella McCartney, £399.95, adidas.co.uk
Off-White x Nike The 10: Air Max 97 OG Trainers, £1, 543, farfetch.com
Reebok Aztek Double X Gigi Hadid, £109.05, reebok.co.uk
Nike x Comme Des Garcons Sneakers, £256, farfetch.com
PUMA x THE KOOPLES, £172, puma.com
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