About a month ago my friend Rachel bribed me to go with her where no Man Repeller had gone before: the gym. Equinox, to be exact. Where the muscles float like root beer and sweat is not a misspelled representation of a less abrasive, “sweet.”
After diagnosing a grave issue, that I didn’t own a pair of athletic shoes–unless you consider wedged sneakers accurately “athletic,” I figured that if all else would fail, at least the gym trip would have left me with a new pair of shoes to show for the agony the experience would indubitably supply.
Rachel and I met at Paragon on 18th street and after asking, very curiously and equally seriously, the generous salesman for a pair of light-up sneakers, I settled on neon Nike Frees. Settled being the operative loose word. Rachel assured me they were my best bet and I imagine we were on the brink of being escorted out of shop.
I didn’t take the Frees because they were ranked good treadmill shoes though, no. This was about their aesthetic qualities: bright orange, bright blue, perforation, a thick white sole.
Upon first setting them on, all I could recognize was the unusual sense of ease I felt while walking.
“Are shoes allowed to be this comfortable?” I asked.
“Yes,” Rachel told me. “Welcome to the dark side.”
The dark side she was referencing was one infiltrated by “neon socks for your feet,” as she put it, that rendered all shoes–be they caged Alaia, chainy Isabel Marant, sea-shell adorned Charlotte Olympia, even English rocker inspired Tabitha Simmons–inconsequential, pale, pathetic when up against the $100 Nikes.
I soon learned this was not because of the comfort factor. In my mind’s eye, it seemed no fall look, see: leather skinny pants, a pea coat, grey turtleneck sweater would see justification without the ubiquitous swoosh.
They did something interesting to my ankles, even made my knees look more fit.
“Cool,” I yelled one time while walking down the street all by my lonesome self.
“Put a sock in it,” someone said.
“How’s neon?” I retorted.
And then I started wearing them paired with Valentino, see: below. The pigeons, they came running, see: above. What is it, I thought? Are these the next generation of wedged sneakers? Has Isabel Marant eased us into a trend that preaches comfort and ankle stability? Or are we seeing a backlash? Have shoes become so high, so adventurous, so calculated, that the best we can scramble in order to configure authentic personal style once again is irony?
I’m not sure. In fact, I’ll leave this open-ended–it’s probably too soon to tell. What are your thoughts though? Would love to hear what you think.
Ermanno Scervino jacket, Club Monaco blouse, Isabel Marant pants, Nike sneakers, Valentino purse, Rag & Bone sunglasses, Alexander McQueen skull ring, Jennifer Fisher necklaces. All photos by Naomi Shon…she’s baaaaack!