I have always thought of sneakers as the shoes you throw on to run in the mud, climb a tree, or if you aren’t a five-year-old and don’t find yourself doing these things too often, what you wear from work and to the gym. So when I first heard about “Sneaker Con” a good five years ago, I was confronted with a new conception of what sneakers could be. What I thought of as sneakers, the shoes that could be worn anywhere or everywhere to do just about anything or everything, morphed into a giant convention center filled with 13-year-old boys and 20-somethings and over, trying to buy sneakers that they proclaim they will never take out of the box. These “grails of shoes” don’t have a real immediate purpose. Of course, selling your sacred pair is an option and what you cling to for justifying your purchase of up to 10k. But will anyone ever wear these shoes?
I would love it if sneakers had their own art museum wing. That would mean that they, like fashion, have now been accepted as a form of art and can compete with the newest Jeff Koons flower puppy or Damien Hirst dot painting for most expensive piece of the year. The shoes would be mounted, and I could finally justify to myself why they could never be touched.
Beyond my distaste of the sneaker-head cult, I am confronted by high-fashion’s own sneaker fetish. In high-fashion, sneakers have been the “big thing” for the past couple of years. The biggest designers and street style stars contrast sneakers with dresses or skirts. Sneakers became a new version of the high heel. And for a while I was ecstatic at the sneaker fad that was gripping the fashion world and finally calling for the comfort everyone so desperately wanted. But as the years have passed and the sneaker fad is holding on strong in the glinting images of our Instagram feeds and in the pages of Vogue, I am becoming tired of them. I love sneakers. I do. But I have seen sneakers being overused by big name brands asking quadruple the price for mockups of our favorite classic Converse, Stan Smith, Nike Airs, and Vans. The new sneakers are not new. They, unlike the Back to the Future Nike Mag shoes, don’t tie themselves. They are quite ordinary, and to me seem to mock those who willingly buy an over-extravagant pair of lame copies. When I turn on my phone and see every other girl wearing the same pair of sneakers in the same way, I can’t help but sigh at the homogeny. The comfort of the sneaker has become too comfortable to be unique or interesting. Now, whenever I see someone wearing Converse or Nikes the old conventional way I am refreshed by how iconic they look. Perhaps one day I will return to wearing sneakers with my culottes or with a dress, but for now I am sticking to jeans and going to leave the sneaker-devotion to the rest of our population. Who knows, maybe once I get tickets to Sneaker Con I will become a devotee myself.
Header Image by Annie Leibovitz
Because I am a hypocrite I will wear a dress with sneakers in a coming post and so, fittingly, these are the expensive sneakers I would happily buy: