If cross-training actually meant leisurely walking down Mercer Street.


Ah, the backlash, it starts.

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!

Get more Brain Massage ?
  • Kcomekarolina

    wow!!! that looks really cool!

    xoxo from rome

  • judging by the nylon young hollywood shoot in may, comfortable footwear is actually back in style. yay! 

  • Oh yes, Nike sneakers are illegally comfortable. For a long time I thought they were a lie, a myth if you must, in my closet. But then I joined the gym and we rarely part these days.


  • It’s nice to see you can amazingly wear flat sneakers and still look cool.

  • Kudosstoyou

    Ahhh….Yes…I have resorted to sneakers for a while now. Love them. I’ve grown so accustomed, my feet rebel when I put them in anything with a heel.

  • Aganbhullar2

    You ask us, “Can your feet be so comfortable?”

    I say, “Can sneakers ever be so stylish?”

    You invite us, “I would love to hear what you think”… and I reply, “Love!”

  • Sarah Scott

    I own a pair of neon pink and  neon orange free runs. They are what I get complimented on the most. Which come to think of it may be a little sad. Also shocked that you don’t own high tops. One may never use the term “gangster” if one does not own high tops.

  • your sunnies matches your sneakers perfectly! Love this look 😛

  • Beautiful look, i like the Nike Sneakers!!1

  • Rachel Strugatz

    nike free run 3’s rule, even with an ankle brace #chic

  • Style By Xu

    I also rock a pair of neon highlighter nike kicks on the streets of new york!

  • Kate Neary

    I love you and feel the same way.  I have a very awkward giddiness when I put on a pair of trainers like that.  I suddenly feel like a super badass, fit version of myself.  It’s terrifying.


  • Style By Xu

    I also rock a pair of nike highlighter kicks in neon on the streets of nyc! 

  • I love your sunnies!

  • Alana

    I lived in Denmark, and wearing athletic sneakers with every day outfits is the norm. From New Balances to Nikes, women wear them for every occasion. Kind of sad it’s coming to North America, it’s what made Scandinavia so damn cool.

    • I’m not going to tell my age, but rocking sneakers in everyday outfits was the rage in Jr.High. We didn’t care, and we loved it! 

    • Ditte

      I’m from Scandinavia and we still do it <3

  • I LOVE THEM! you make gymwear look chic

  • Love your pants!

    Giveaway on my blog
    Giveaway on my blog
    Giveaway on my blog

  • Natali Karppinen

    Wonderful jacket and bag! You’re so chic 😉

  • rhodawong

    i love how you paired those neon running shoes! i want a pair too!

  • Beeboop

    Light up all while nike air max for “grown ups”….

    Pretty sure these were made for you… “As always these are designed to withstand consistent wear and active movement such as dancing”    

  • When I moved to Denmark two years ago I scoffed at the crazy Danish sneaker sensibility. I held my North American, high-heeled principle as superior. And then they started to grow on me. Slowly but surely in a Nike clad world I started seeing the benefit in a go-to sneaker attitude. And now, well, I’m one of them. And I still have that can they really be this comfortable everytime I put them on…..

  • Love Janet


    Didn’t Elin Kling write a Nike post a few days ago? 

  • Love these sneakers! I don’t own any athletic shoes, but I was in the country this weekend and went for a hike with my friend. I borrowed her Nikes: black with neon pink details. I think I’m going to have to buy some sneakers! They’ve gotten so much nicer.

  • I walk my dog every day and I was about to get some Nike frees because the broke-down fake keds I’ve been using have no support. 

    I’m glad you’re on the dark side! 

  • I have a whole blog about this!! Welcome to the dark side, indeed! Love, love LOVE the look! #activechic

  • Free runs are awesome…I have them in two colours! Overall, however, I feel like nothing says “I could care less” than a pair of sneakers which equates automatic chic. To me at least. 


  • monkeyshines

    lovely sneakers!


  • pinkmewn

    So cute.  Make me want to get a pair.

  • Rhiannon Lorenzo

    you are hilarious. you look amazing!

  • I’m so afraid to buy a pair of comfortable shoes and ending up trapped in that world! The same that happenned to you did for me the other day: I wore a pair of flats after a whole week of heels and I felt guilty! haha I know that sounds weird but I felt like I was betraying my shoes because I preferred the comfy flats above them all… Lord, forgive me for I have sinned!

  • liu

    are the anklets aurelie bidermann?? 

  • Pauline T

    Neon nike sneakers have always been a real thing and will always be. And sneakers always make you look cool like “I know I’m wearing sneakers, i don’t care, i’m that cool”. I consequently approve your new shoes!

  • it’s no fashion style statement – rather that anything goes and often comfort wins – the fact that personal style allows us to pair the unimaginably comfy sneaker with a pure style top dress half, is a true bonus

    go forth man repeller – be neon (not that I suspect you need our approval anyway but I, for one, approve)

    ♥ ThankFifi

  • Svetlana Zmukic

    Nice sneakers 🙂
    P.S. Visit my blog if you want:

  • elisaeymery

    oh my these actually look so cool with the printed pants, for the first time since I’m 15 I find myself wanting sneakers! What are you doing to me!

    Wandering Minds fashion

  • Xeana

    Stylish and comfortable! And so bright!


  • VotreAmie
  • Belén cavas

    You are incredible, love the mix fluor sneackers and print animal. OUOUOU YEAHHHH!!!

  • MsDenbi

    I don’t wear my running shoes out, but I did recently get into sneakers and this summer I bought Keds and a pair of red converse high tops! (wearing them now, actually!) and I have to say, there’s nothing like having some decent support and shoes that make you want to go barefoot for life.

  • Lana

    I think they look adorable! Can’t say that for most other tennis shoes, though…

  • alana

    vinka rocked those long time ago

  • Amanda Reyes

    love you & your blog!
    such awesome style

    -Amanda Reyes

  • Hmmm decisions…I have the orange free’s and love them…but never thought to pair them with a cute outfit.  I like the way you put your ensemble together, though!

  • I have the Nike Frees in purple with bright orange laces. So comfortable it’s sinful. Glad to see that you’ve found them and are adding your MR style to them! Rock on

  • Serdanemess

    Those shoes are GREAT ! It’s suitable with everything.

  • minimal is best…

  • fpepper

    Haha, I bought some very neon Nikes not so long ago (but green and blue) – my friend refuses to go running with me because she says they are ridiculous! I would wear trainers more than just to work out in, but I have super short legs so it’s not a great look! x

  • Agamendes

    I love this style. Sneakers andn sunglasses are stunning.

  • ClosetCravings

    Cute workout gear is mandatory if one is going to attempt to break a sweat. =)
    Satisfy Your Cravings For Celebrity Style and All Things Stylish and Sweet 

  • a.n.a.l.u

    I got a love-hate situation with your sunglasses. Sneakers are the best thing ever, definitly more comfortable and repeller than stilettos.

  • LeahS.

    I have the same shoes in purple and they are the best thing ever! So light and comfy. 

  • Props for making a post on the sneaker, Leandra! As a long-time admirer of Scandinavian style, I became obsesssed with the non-athletic use of the sneaker for quite some time. Look at any Nordic street-style blog and women, men, children and other creatures alike are rocking the sneaker.And not just the more “aesthetically appealing” sneaker such as the Converse or the like. REAL sneakers, so to speak. I fell in love immediatley when I saw images of women sporting trainers with Stine Goya pants or a great summer dress.
       I decided myself to try out this trainer trend about a year or so ago. In the beginning, I felt a little guilty because I had gone to a place where I had never vowed to go: comfort. It felt a little twisted to feel the same kind of excitement I had for the Prada Chandelier shoes of s/s ’10 ( that I had purchased on deep discount but nevertheless toiled and saved money from in between birthday cards, bake sales, walking neighbors’ dogs, and babysitting) that I did for a pair of puffy retro ‘Dragon’ model from Adidas. Or, more recently, the Roshe Run from Nike.  I always promised myself I would never let practicality get in the way of beauty that I could adorn my feet with.
        When I wore these pairs of sneakers to school for the first time, the comments were rather amusing. It was still my same style: print mix, unflattering calf-like dress, full miniskirts, the occasional skinny pant. And almost ever-present flower crown. Yet, for some reason my use of the sneaker seemed to evoke a new shock (disgust, rather) in some than if I had paired my outifit with a pair of converse, or loafers, or tropical-print ‘flatform’ sneakers. I liked it, though. It only heightened my goal to dress with contradiction. And JUXTAPOSITION, people. Which it did. Especially on the day I wore with a tulle skirt. Comments from fellow suburban america classmates as follows:
    Male: “You running home or something?”
    Female: “Oh, Emma, that’s funny how you paired running shoes with a skirt.”
    Disclaimer: Both in the end translate to “what the fu*&k are you wearing?”

       So I guess what I am trying to say with this dialogue is that sneakers – and not fashion sneakers, but like orthopedic, sweat-inducing, sneakers – are the bomb. They’re flippin’ awesome. They make me feel like I’m a really cool cat who is biking to her job as art director at some minimalist store in Copenhagen, even if I’m just sitting in chemistry class with no air conditioning.
       While I’m still recovering from the gash in my wallet from the Prada shoes two years after the fact, These shoes in the $70 range make me equally as happy and are a slightly better fit for my 16yrs of age and the summer babysitting funds that go with it. Don’t get me wrong, I love “escapism shoes” but for the daily Man Repeller out and about in the world – be it en route to a job or cleaning up lousy spills in chemistry class with haste – the abudance of cool-looking trainers out there make life a heck of a lot easier.
    (photo below of my roshes paired with some vintage-printed balloon shorts)

    • Leandra

      Thank you for taking a moment to share this!

  • Eva Kraaijeveld

    I love it, seriously need a pair of Nike Free sneakers now 😀

  • Fashionablecollections

    I swear I asked the same question to a friend when I wore my sneakers, are shoes really this comfortable hahha love it


  • Hillary

    Ah the neon sneaker trend. Well anyways I wear sneakers all the time so I can’t even wear wedges without cringing 😛 Yes indeed welcome to the dark side

  • Tiago Andrade

    You’r gonna be a trendsetter and put the world using a sport snearkers ahahaha

  • Kelly Oxford

    They are just so light, I feel like I could possibly eat mine.

  • Thegaragestarlets

    I’ll die for your look! 🙂


  • Romina C

    They are so comfy it’s killing. Then you’re asking yourself why wear heels when Nike looks actually cool. x Romi

  • Sigrid

    Loving it!! My Frees are bright green and style them almost exactly as you did, with a pair of leo or leather pants.
    I never bought them for working out (I have a seperate pair of Frees for that stuff ). I live in Copenhagen, Denmark. And everybody is wearing bright or black Nikes on their feet! So comfortable and so cool 🙂

  • Kate

    Even if I wouldn’t wear them everyday I love my Nike’s so much! My boyfriend made me buy them for a backpacking trip through Argentina and I’ve never walked so easy and had shoes this comfortable! I almost felt like walking on clouds, compared to usual footwear.
    But don’t tell him;) xx Kate

  • ShopbopGirl

    Love these sneakers, and how you combine them with all this other fancy stuff known as Valentino, Isabel Marant, and McQueen. Makes me heart tunmbly-wumbly, gurl.

  • Haley

    Are those SCL bracelets around your ankle?

  • celia

    You did it again Leandra.
    Nikes: we know we are ugly. But you are ugly too. Let’s put our ugly character all together and be amazingly beautiful!


  • I’m thinking Blogger-instigated trend (& that’s not a bad thing); I can vouch for feeling “sordid”, and sorta guilty for heading out in neon flats (I couldn’t call them trainers… I wasn’t ready for that).

    All the advantages weren’t given any thought- pre-packaged via foresight- but my knees are fucking thankful (& they’re an osteoporotic sort- ie. shoddy). This trend’ll probably die after neon-swoosh[i](?) are no longer appearing in folks’ outfit posts, but I’d be glad for it to stay…

    As for the footwear trend/ general questionable get-ups of generations-prior- on the same thread, I wouldn’t be surprised if the “Jenny from the Block” sort of pointy-heeled Timberlands find their way back on our iPads/ iPhones screens.
    I’m asking you though… is that really such a bad thing? (Yes). (but really, no)… (/ probably). Ask me next week.

  • kerrin

    i dig it. anything goes.

  • HR

    I’m obsessed with your blog!!!

  • Leslie

    the athletic apparel movement mixed with high fashion is definitely a trend with staying power, considering how many “busy-lazy” people there are in the world. i fucking love it and laugh at the baroque trend that fall fashion is attempting to usher back in.

  • Christina

    I honestly have no idea how to work sneakers into a boho look so I’ve never gone down that road. I don’t wear heels very much, but rather equally uncomfortable flats with no support.. or heeled booties also without support. Sorry feet… better luck next time


  • I spent a bunch of years not wearing sneakers, but I fell in love with them again last year. They can either be neutral or a statement, and I find it easy to work them into an outfit.
    Also, I’m a lazy ass and I feel like a newborn giraffe when I wear heels, so it’s hard for me not to love sneakers.

  • Only you would be able to make Nikes look so irresistibly chic. Personally I prefer to wear my frees when I’m working out, but you’ve proven that these bad boys can look effortless inside and outside of the gym.

  • laima hareer

    love the pants and the way you have included the sneakers

  • Nat

    Leandra, you are just so damn cool.

  • Totally obsessed with Nike Frees! I have the neon coral colour. So far I’ve only wore them to the gym though.

  • Thefashionguitar

    Totally love neon socks on our feet!

  • I’m digging the sneakers on you and want to try this trend myself. The question is, will my classmates throw up of incomprehension at the sight of my neon sneakers paired with what looks like bacon scratchings skinny jeans ? I’m willing to take a chance.

  • Dusty Petals

    I love these bright Nikes worn with a chic street style look. You can make anything look cool!!! xox

  • Only you could pull this off!!

  • Michelle K.

    How funny! I just went to pick up my Nike Free’s in coral/neon green over my lunch break. I sit down now at 1pm and open up your blog and see a post about the same exact shoes!!! 😀 I’m loving them, soooo comfortable!

  • Théa Unknown

    Like your pants!

    Théa Unknown

  • LOL love that you wear gym sneakers with such high fashion designer pieces. Can’t say I’m totally obsessed with the whole outfit and darker colors and then the pop of random brightness, but you’re meant to make people take a second look!


  • Annika Tibs

    I just spent all last night customizing my own nike sneakers to purchase in bright neons!!! i’ve been fascinated by the idea for months now wanting to get a new pair (yes for the gym in mind but also for social) i think i’m going through with it, i’m going to seal the neon deal! xo

  • Carol Strum

    love your nikes! I actually don’t own any athletic shoes. I love the look but I also think only you could pull it off!

  • Sinead

    Check out these babies:

  • I don’t own a single pair of athletic shoes, either! Although, when I spotted the neon yellow Frees early this summer, I was tempted. But then I might have to work out.

  • The Provoker

    I feel the same, when shoes are so comfortable, I question its aesthetics…. I also didnt own proper sneakers (does buffalo platformed ones count?) cos Im naturally skinny and dont need to go the gym.. oh I’m a guy in case I wasn’t making it clear…. btw aren’t you hot in a jacket? please tell me you only wore it for the outfit post dear-

    xx nathan.niche

  • Marina Casapu

    Nooo Leandra, I didnt expect it from you!!! 😀 Maybe some white tennis keds? they are comfy too…

  • Pauline C

    I remember two years ago, I was walking in the streets of Paris, and I’d just scream of surprise when I saw several young chinese tourist, walking around with a cool outfit and athletic sneakers ! With time, I found it more and more interesting.. It seemed to be not only a comfort choice, but something more, something new. On you, it looks amazing.
    Let’s hope it’s not a trend that will look like that in a few years :×479.jpg = TRENDS WE’D PREFER FORGET

  • saba

    love those!

  • Of course, you’re the ONE person who can pull off this look.
    Pet peeve: people who wear sneakers with jeans. Yuk!
    But what is it about sneakers that make your legs look so toned? Love it.

  • Emily

    Well. comfort is cool I say! The outfit looks great paired with these running shoes and you don’t look like everyone else as well….
    Also love the way you laced them!
    Emily ooo

  • Sigrid

    Just wanna share my favorite pair of trainers:

  • Dámaris

    I would!

  • Jesse

    haha awesome

  • Sketch42

    Jeans and sneakers havent been so cool since Seinfeld.

    I like it, and I would almost probably never wear it, but it is awesome. As for your questions: In fashion: whatever we think is the most unimaginable, suddenly becomes imaginable. Its not anything more than the usual trend backlash.

  • liquid lime nike frees are my secret favorite shoes. i actually look forward to running because i get to put them on! and yes, people make comments about being able to see them from the moon, but i don’t care because i know that said comments are rooted in jealousy.

  • Thorunn
  • I don’t know about sneakers but the brighter the shoe, the better!! Check out Kokua, a label I discovered last week in Barcelona…if you are ever out that way . 😀


    I can’t bring myself to dawn a pair of athletic shoes in public, but leave it to you to go there and look chic!

  • this isn’t a new thing. Urban dwellers have had an ever lasting love affair of kicks with everything. As a self proclaimed podophilic, I just do it often due to ease my fear of hammertoes, corns, and falling while running for the L train.

  • Namrata Kedar

    Like you said, Isabel Marant has revolutionized the way we women walk! Hi tops and sneakers are so trendy this season, and the comfort is an added extra bonus. But i don’t believe it is a backlash. Sometimes irony is just the flavor of the season.


  • Nicoletta

    I really like this look and bright colours too, but googeling Nike I found this documentary.
    It’s made in 2011, so unfortunately it seems to still be accurate. So I decided not to buy them, which is hard for me being quite a fashionvictim myself. I’d care to know what you (and your fellow followers) think about this sort of dilemma, when you really like a brand/product and then you find out that it was produced in very bad humanitarian and/or environmental conditions?
    (Not that this would be big news about Nike, but I thought/hoped that the situation might have bettered after the scandals a few years ago)

  • theabraham

    i have just embraced converting into sneaker-wearing with basically everything, based on a recent trip to japan where my dries van noten sandals practically killed my feet with burns and ultrablisters.

  • Call me crazy, but I’m in favour of a place where fashion and practicality meet. If you want to be able to get things done, sometimes you need to make a small fashion compromise for efficiency’s sake. As a bike rider and a bit of a gym junkie, I’ve come to terms with the fact that not ALL outfit choices are ideal when your knees come above your hips and the wind is in your hair. I wrote a post about it a while back.
    Love your work! And totally LOVE the frees.

  • test


  • Justin Manning

    I bought the same pair when I was in Korea, but instead of neon blue, they are maroon, but still with the neon orange. The deciding factor for me was also the aesthetics, and holy shit are those shoes not the most comfortable things ever?! I have yet to run in them… which is the “main” purpose I got them – at least the main purpose to persuade my parents to pay for them.

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