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Is Fashion's Love of Sneakers Waning?

Undeniably the 'it' shoe of 2014, sneakers have been far less ubiquitous on runways and in street style.
A sneaker on the runway of the Chanel Haute Couture spring 2014 show. Photo: Imaxtree

A sneaker on the runway of the Chanel Haute Couture spring 2014 show. Photo: Imaxtree

We're calling it: Sneakers' moment -- in the cliquish world of women's fashion, at least -- is passing.

Last year, designers were putting them everywhere. In January, Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel and Raf Simons of Dior showed their own versions of the athletic footwear -- appliquéd, bejeweled, rubber-soled, intensely laborious -- on the runways of their historically serious couture shows. In September, Alexander Wang showed an entirely sneaker-inspired runway collection (Nike Flyknit dresses, Stan Smiths re-imagined as tennis dresses), while designers like Creatures of Comfort's Jade Lai (in New York) and Alice Temperley (in London) styled most (and in Temperley's case, all) of their runway looks with sneakers.

And then there was the street style set: At the fall 2014 collections last February, Stan Smiths were seemingly on the feet of every showgoer in New York and Paris, and were just as ubiquitous (alongside New Balances, various offerings from Nike and upscale designer takes on all of the above) in September.

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It's hard to pinpoint when peak sneaker frenzy occurred -- perhaps during Chanel's couture show -- but that moment has come and gone. On the runways this season, sneakers have been replaced by smoking slippers, pointed loafers, lace-up boots and more traditional heels. On showgoers' feet, too, they've been sighted less; in New York, one could blame the weather, but in London, where the pavement was mostly dry, multiple observers agreed that sneakers were appearing less frequently.

That's not to say that sneakers are over. Far from it. Just look at the demand for Adidas's forthcoming Yeezy shoe, designed in collaboration with Kanye West. And buyers say they don't expect demand for other styles to wane anytime soon. "Sneakers are relevant and selling like hot cakes on and in store," Elyse Walker, fashion director of the e-tail website Forward by Elyse Walker, wrote by email. "The runway doesn't always reflect a lot of the amazing casual trends that are actually selling in store and online."

But in the minds of many fashion insiders, the sneaker has already hit its climax, become too ubiquitous, the market oversaturated. "I'm happy the trend is passing," one editor, a favorite of street style photographers, said. "It means I can go on wearing sneakers as 'personal style.'"

Wouldn't that be nice.