To their Roots
Taking sneakers way, way back
Isabel Marant’s sneaker wedge has a new contender and she is rather old.
I’m talking about Nike’s Air Max 90s. A combination of recent street style evidence and a certain British Vogue photo of Phoebe Philo (brought to my attention by Emily Weiss, though not predating the Celine designer’s predilection for taking her post show-bow in comfort) suggest that the original wedge sneaker is retaking its throne. And in watching this hyper-trends trace back to its roots, I think Darwinism can be employed. While the Marant wedge-mania simmers down, the notion of sneakers in general and in fashion is only becoming more relevant. Did that happen for Sketchers? Or bra-strap headbands? Or butterfly clips? I don’t think so. So why this one? Well, there are a number of reasons.
On the one hand, fashion is likely more pop-culture derivative now than it has ever been, and if the deluge of ill-kick wearing hip-hop artists singing Margiela are indicative of anything, it is just that. On the other hand, I’d argue that we (women) needed an excuse to bode in favor of comfort and when Isabel Marant began batting for the cause, we welcomed the Velcro with open arms.
I must have seen at least ten stories over the course of the last two years trying to unlock what it is that women find so appealing about those sneakers. There’s only one answer, though, and it’s simple: the combination of fluent French-chic and comfort is uncharted. If you’d have told me I could wear shoes that would make my ankles look profoundly smaller, my thighs considerably thinner and that I’d look a true partisan of fashion while maintaining uncompromisable comfort, I’d have laughed so damn hard, it may have warranted an “LMAO.” Tell me that now though and I will simply retort, “duh.”
Noting the personal transgression from Isabel Marant sneaker wedge to Nike Free to Nike Trailblazer and most recently, to Air Max 90, I have to ask myself what’s happening. I’m not sure I actually have an answer but I do believe that I may have been trying to abandon the Marants in favor of the more contemporary, authentic equivalent: those Nike Frees. After I got over that, I fell into the black hole of nostalgia and indulged in black and white Trailblazers. So maybe now, I’m taking inspiration back from those wedges without discarding nostalgia and ultimately enjoying the utter beauty of an original. It’s an ugly-chic, fascination of the abomination thing which I think works fairly well with streamlined style. See:
I am not sure who I look like in this photo but I am very sure that it is not myself. The white turtleneck makes me feel like a pseudo-intellectual living downtown ca ’93 but from leather zipper down, I am a total Larry David enthusiast. (Wearing Christina Lehr turtleneck, Acne blazer, Topshop pants, Nike sneakers and holding Sophia Webster clutch)
(Photo via Garance Dore) Me, here:
See what I mean? Fundamental difference: no matter how hard I try, I am not French and I don’t have a stellar collection to show for the swag in my step. Is there swag in my step? If the answer is yes, we should all agree that it is likely Lisa Frank-fostered. (Wearing: Zara vest, Vanessa Bruno sweater, shirt, MiH jeans and Celine sunglasses)
Let’s go back to the first photo for a second and ask what we’re all wondering: what?
I can kick in slow motion and my hair does this really cool thing accordingly.