Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sneakers in Fashion


To the left is a double-page Chanel advertisement I found the other day in a glossy fashion magazine.

What interests me is that the young women are wearing sneakers -- sneakers! -- that are color-coordinated with Chanel suits.

Bright Sneakers in History

Several years ago, in a Foot Locker store, I fell into conversation with a young salesman who was wearing one of those referee uniforms that the chain provides for its employees.

(I was there with the Younger Person, who was devoting considerable care to selecting the right footwear for the sport of the moment.)

I told the salesman that some of the Foot Locker shoes seemed rather garishly colored.  He explained to me that young men accessorized their wardrobes -- choosing shoes in colors that matched the professional team jerseys they were wearing during a given athletic season.

I had never considered this before -- matching sneakers to very casual outfits.

Women and Shoe Colors

Women used to do this with formal wear.  Brides wore white shoes with their gowns, and bridesmaid shoes were dyed to match their dresses.  But for most women for the last 15 years, matching shoe and outfit colors has been, at best, optional.  The phrase "too matchy-matchy" has been a term of derision.  And black shoes were almost always perfectly appropriate.

Now elite designers are promoting coordinating, bright-colored sneakers -- sneakers! -- to be worn with businessy or ladies-who-lunch-type suits that cost well into the four figures.

How things have changed.

The New Trend in Street Clothes

Fashion magazines and the business press have been going on a lot lately about people wearing exercise clothes outside the gym.  Americans spend an estimated $28 billion annually on fitness clothes, and more and more of those outfits are seen on the streets.  Women in lululemon yoga pants.  Men in Under Armor shirts.

And, this year, everybody in sneakers.

Here are two shots from Scott Schuman's wonderful blog.  If you aren't looking at it -- thesartorialist.com -- every couple of weeks, you really should start now.  He posts well-composed photographs of fashionable people he sees on the streets all over the world.  (It is my fond hope to be featured in a photo on his blog at least once before I die.)



So here the sartorialist shows us two stylish women in white and black sneakers.  A few years ago, they would have worn ballet flats or espadrilles in similar colors.

I see a problem with this for designers (although the always tasteful Giorgio Armanis is giving it a go with gray sneakers, now available for $575 at Neiman Marcus.)

Most women already have white and/or black sneakers in their closets already.

I don't see women signing up to buy brightly colored designer sneakers when these basic models will work just as well.

But if the House of Chanel were to pitch team-accessorizing colorful sneakers in partnership with Nike, it just might find an audience.

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