This year, streetwear plays footsie with haute couture on the runway. A lot. We find out if this is just a one-night (season) affair or if it may turn into something serious.
Sneakers and haute couture – this odd coupling has been gaining traction lately. From gym to dance floor and now the runway, we’ve been witnessing quite a fair bit of pumped up kicks peeping out from the 2018 collections of Louis Vuitton, Versace, Chanel, Dior, Balenciaga and Gucci, just to name the heavyweights.
Boxy kicks, vintage joggers, statement sneakers, customised and star-studded collaborations are all making their march down the stage alongside stilettos and boots. And the usual suspects? Nike and Adidas rule the roost.
Perhaps this is fashion’s reaction to the ever growing conversation around style reflecting real life needs. There is a pragmatic shift towards looking good but not at the cost of comfort and lifestyle. And it seems like women these days really need to go places and get things done quickly and efficiently.
Enter the cushy footwear contingent that is perfect for serious errand running as well as hitting the launch parties. Chanel showed chunky white walkers, Versace with fat-soled and floral Chain Reaction sneakers while Maison Margiela’s Security shoe initiated much chatter about how to rock this ugly shoe trend.
Just before Fall, Gucci also introduced colour-block joggers that looked much like progeny of the seventies low top, suede and gum-soled German army trainer.
Incidentally, it might be good to mention that this Italian house was the first luxury brand to include streetwear kicks in the guise of a 1984 tennis shoe wearing brand colours; right before big names like Prada, Jeremy Scott and Kanye West riding on Louis Vuitton’s wagon started elevating the humble trainer to luxe level.
And by 2014, it was Karl Lagerfield that packaged embroidered chiffon and silk dresses with sneakers to “bring couture back to reality”. You couldn’t have the dress without the sneakers. This ideal soon trickled down from the exclusive halls of haute couture down to the average consumer level quickly.
This year, sneakers went on the runway proud… and deliberately “ugly”; the sort of turbo trainers that fathers wear to wash their cars, go for taichi at the park or pick up groceries from the wet market. From Miu Miu to Burberry, sensible Dad sneakers are the approved kings of convenience while still offering retro coolness.
As Spring 2019 draws close, some critics speculate that haute couture’s torrid love affair with streetwear is also cooling off. It does seem the case for the boys.
Birkenstock is now the flavour of the month in Team Rick Owens, Gucci is easing up on rubber soles and Margiela is sporting grown up pointy shoes. On the other hand, Skechers was sighted in September on the runways of New York Fashion Week. So it’s still too early to tell where this trend is headed.
Off the runway and IRL, many celebrities and fashion icons including Bella Hadid, Olivia Palermo and Kendall Jenner continue to couple their kicks to fancy frocks. For us common folk, it’s also a welcomed respite from ankle busting heels. Perhaps high tops in high fashion are here to stay for a while longer, and certainly they will always make an appearance every now and then.