Saturday, June 14, 2014

Curious Fashions: Wedge Sneakers

For just about forever, there have been wedge-heeled sandals.  Below is a 1940 Valentino pair that is part of the collection at the Metropolitan Museum.

And here is the Kork-ease Ava, which was popular in the 1970s and has come back into vogue in the last several years. 

Five or 10 years back, there started to be a lot of wedge pumps like the one below.

These are still perfectly nice, and women buy them regularly.  Like wedge-heeled sandals, they will probably be with us always.

But things kept going.

Once wedge pumps found a market, designers started offering wedge-heeled boots.

I actually bought a pair of these and I thought they were neat and cool until, a couple years later, suddenly I realized they weren't any more.  So I got rid of them.

What came next was probably inevitable, but still, it surprised me.

I refer of course to the  "wedge sneaker."

French designer Isabel Marant took the credit for introducing the wedge sneaker in 2011.  There were many fabrics and colors.  Prices ran from $600 to $1,400 or more.   One example is below.

Naturally, as these became fashionable, other designers followed suit and rolled out their own versions.

In spring 2012, Nike offered this style.  It was expensive, as Nike shoes are, but not nearly as expensive as the early Marant models.

And so it went.  For a couple years, wedge sneakers were quite the fashion statement.  I used to read articles about women wearing them to gym classes, but I never saw any wedge sneakers at my large gym, whose membership includes many stylish young women.  Real athletes don't work out in shoes with heels, even wedge heels.

Mostly, the wedge sneaker was a street shoe trend, often worn with tight pants or short shorts, as seen below.

Through 2013, shoe companies kept offering them for sale, and sales seemed to be good.  It went on and on. 

Here is a 2013 model that I would not buy under any circumstances.

By early 2013, Ms. Marant was pretty steamed about the ripoffs of her idea.  

"Everybody who has the wrong one," she complained to a British newspaper, "looks quite bitchy, very vulgar when mine are not at all."

And she had a point.  Many of the newer wedge sneakers were pretty darn ugly.

Today you can buy much cheaper versions, including this unfortunate one from Puma, marked down at Zappos.

Now fashionistas are discussing whether the wedge sneaker craze is over or has a couple years left to run.  

My guess is that serious trendsetters are done with this style.

Personally, I would not recommend buying wedge sneakers at this point.  If you have a pair that you like, you probably can keep wearing them.  Not for long, though.

In fact, Isabel Marant herself seems to have moved on. Here is a sneaker from her pre-fall collection.

This seems to be more the coming trend -- regular sneakers in various designs and colors.

Above are some by designer Raf Simons for Adidas.  Prices start around $400 and ascend to the heights from there.

At the gym, where the most common clothing color is black, these should be fine.  On the other hand, most people don't set out to make fashion statements with their workout attire.  (Those who do tend to prefer outfits that reveal prominent muscles or very tight abs.)

Good workout shoes now come in a range of colors, but I am not sure that color or texture is the point in these buying decisions.  I think I am like most people when buying gym shoes: I seek shoes that 1) fit well, 2) are not of obnoxious colors and 3) are priced right.  Given the third criterion, I don't see Raf Simons shoes in my future.

So the real point of these new colorful sneakers, like the wedge models, is their appeal as street shoes.

Here is a street-oriented attempt to pair colorful sneakers with a dress.   As you can see, it is all matchy-matchy pink.  This is not my kind of look, but it may appeal to some of the more girly girls.

Maybe I'm too cautious and traditional, or maybe I spend too much time in New York and so am inclined to basic black.  Whatever.  But I do like this look with black sneakers that was shown by Simon Gao at London Fashion Week this spring.

Color is great, and some women carry it off very well.  But those who travel every now and then find it difficult to coordinate odd-colored basics with the rest of their clothes.  It is much easier to tuck in a bright scarf or shirt than to plan everything else around a pair of shoes that demands attention all on its own. 

No comments:

Post a Comment