In this age of blink-and-you-miss-it fashion trends, it can be hard to really know what’s cool.
But one surefire way of knowing what’s “in” is by looking at what all the cool fashion kids are wearing. And what are they wearing right now? Sneakers. Not Chucks, not sneaker wedges, but bona fide running shoes–we’re talking the kind your athletic dad might wear.
So what got all the fashion girls running to Foot Locker? This writer posits that Phoebe Philo has a lot to do with it. Philo has been wearing athletic sneakers–New Balance 993s, Nike Air Max’s–at high-profile events and to take her bow at the end of Celine’s shows for a couple of years now. As Into the Gloss recently pointed out, the designer even got snapped in her Nike Vortexes for Vogue‘s March issue.
“Philo rocks a pair of Nikes like no one’s business,” ITG’s Emily Weiss said. “Probably because she pairs them with 16-ply cashmere.”
The Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine, who is also a confirmed Philo-phile, gives credit to Isabel Marant too.
“I really do believe those Isabel Marant highly stylized excuse for a street fashion shoe were a gateway drug for women concerned with ‘looking fashion cool’ to start wearing more comfortable shoes again,” Medine said.
Medine taps into one of this trend’s better points: Comfort! After years of comically high and impractical heels (remember those McQueen Armadillo shoes?) it seems the pendulum has swung back to more classic, wearable, and mercifully orthopedic-friendly shoes.
Another simple reason sneakers are having a moment is because menswear is having a moment.
“The bright colors and crazy materials make [sneakers] fashion forward and comfort is something women rarely get with popular footwear,” Chris Black, creative consultant for a variety of brands including New Balance [and also, in full disclosure, my boyfriend], said. “All of the cool styles are also very affordable so everyone can easily be part of the trend.”
Unlike cheap knockoffs, sneakers are cool because they’re not too try-hard. Tommy Ton’s probably not going to shoot those fake Marant sneaker wedges–but colorful Nikes or New Balances? He’s all over it.
And then there’s the less tangible appeal of the trend: That special swagger that a woman in men’s sneakers exudes. Just look at the above picture of Kate Moss and tell me you don’t know what I mean.
Click through for our picks of the coolest sneakers in stores now. It’s mostly Nike, we know.