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)

In the next one, I am straight up trying to look like Phoebe Philo. Reference photo here:

(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?


qH9YpR on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

I can kick in slow motion and my hair does this really cool thing accordingly.

Get more Personal Style ?
  • I have seen these Nikes everywhere the last few weeks. I need a new pair so I have my eye on these.

  • Your outfit on the 1rst pic is so gorgeous , funny pic at the end thou hahah!!

  • Gena

    I think you look like Natalie Merchant in your photos. How’s that for a 90s reference?

  • Honestly I’m in love with those, I never was quite able to grasp the whole sneaker wedge so really these are just damn snazzy.


  • Hilarious and right on the money, as always. I have to say, I think of the three you’re modeling, I like the classic trailblazers the best. They feel so solid and sturdy, both in space and in time. I’m having a bit of a sneaker moment myself, I finally jumped on the platform wagon after swearing up and down that I wouldn’t and I don’t regret it one bit:

    And then just the other day I bought what I think is the most fun pair of shoes I have ever owned in my entire life (I am dead serious):

    Everytime I look down at my feet now I grin ear to ear. And it doesn’t hurt that I am super comfortable…

  • I can’t believe that I got a pair of Nike Air Max last week too. After so many year of faithful High Heel love I betray the sexy shoe world with a pair of sneakers. But hey, they feel like heaven! 😉

  • Cool ass moves you get there!

  • Belén Cavas Hernández

    Love the mix. Today in the blog the golden oscar 2013.

  • solid. my lunchtime walks in fluorescent nike frees and black theory suits just became legitimized by TMR. life is good.



  • Nico

    I don’t like Isabel Marant sneaker wedge so I’m happy “to see finally new shoes”!

    Love last pic!

  • al the pal

    I LAV NIKE AIR. I vear mine all the time aaaaah.

  • Iliyana Licheva

    i really nike air,but i think they are strictly for sport

  • anna

    lookin’ like fran lebowitz. duh.

  • Love my nike air, great hair!


  • monkeyshines

    wonderful sneakers!


  • I really love that first outfit. I have been fundamentally against turtlenecks, but you make me want to give them one more try.

  • holldoll2

    actually, you look more like this….

  • marinacasapu

    I really love the first outfit!! The turtleneck is always…..something!:)
    I also styled a pair of bright sneakers with an outfit that one wouldn’t expect.

  • Mo V

    I’m still looking for my adidas stan smith original.. Now that’s 90’s as can be, love them…
    My hear doesn’t beat as fast for these, must confess… Maybe a matter of time and disappointment (if I don’t manage to find the adidas)
    Or maybe I’ll travel to the 70’s, and buy these ( looove)


  • Jennifer

    I wish I could pull off sneakers in everyday wear.

    xo Jennifer

  • Amalie Espeland

    bleh, i’ve always hated the sneaker wedge. why make the sneaker uncomfortable? why the hell add a heel? the sneakers are fine as they are. nike air max, nike blazers, nike free, … love x

  • dahlia
  • You can do no wrong it seems! Btw, really like the sunglasses from the turtlneck picture.
    P.S. I’m actually warming up to the wedge sneakers so I will probably try one out sometime soon. In my mind, regular sneakers are just for working out and running errands. Love how you made it into a cute look for yourself tho! 🙂

  • Samirah Yoko

    PLEASE PLEASE Leandra Medine ! What is the reference (or the color name) of the shoes where did you get them ? I am literally dying for theses, I beg you The Master of man repelling

  • I love the last photo – very fun! I am also loving the sneaker trend… anything that keeps my feet cozy is ok by me!

    A new post is up on Local & Opulent – Oscar’s worst dressed and the list ain’t pretty!

  • Astrid

    Haha I bought my first pair of Isabel Marant sneakers just yesterday (money wise peanuts for some, not so peanuts for me); reading on your blog that the Marant-wedge mania is simmering down, kind of makes my heart stop! I still think they’re great though, their being cool + comfort all in one and all that.

  • Bonnie, Clyde + Marni
  • nikes are timeless . x

  • I’ve noticed this Nike sneaker trend aswell, but honestly for me they will always be ” sport shoes”. Wedge sneakers were something new and managed to make it from “unelegant” to superstylish, but Nike’s already have a label in my mind since years and there will need to be many many many streetstyle photos of fashionistas making them look great, before I’ll associate them with comfy chic instead of sporty ugly.

  • lavieenliz

    haha that gif is awesome!! I love this look!!

  • Making me want to put on a turtleneck and sneakers……

  • Shayna from Pattern Pulp

    The styling is very Steven Alan! Also a fan of the liberty platform Nikes…

  • Hudson Berry

    Ummmm… is it really even a question that you look like Fran Leibowitz in the first photo? Your latest instagram of her is nigh identical

    • Uneducated&Lame

      My only hope is that one day I will know who Fran Lebowiz is without googling her, i want to be cultured!

  • Gretchen von Düsterwald

    I didn’t like the shoes before, but when I saw you wearing them with a straight black coat and a pair of waxed jeans I just thought: ” I need these shoes.”. With your combination they just don’t look that hipstersh*t like (sorry to all hipsters).
    Gretchen vonDüsterwald

  • Karii Arreola

    2012…. january….

  • honestly you are so fuckin hilarious!

  • i love when you take a trend right back to its source. it’s so much more interesting than just blindly following what’s in.


    • WIll Code For Clothes

      I was just about to comment this and BAM. Here it was. MR tracks back the trends in their rawest state instead of just hopping on the fucking bandwagon.

      With those Isabel Marant sneaker wedges, I feel like MR was the driver of the bandwagon until it spun out of control. And now sneaker wedges are at Target and it just isn’t the same. Thanks for listening.

  • Sarah

    Hated the Marant sneaker like loads but have felt a furtive desire for the trailblazers creep into my conscious recently. Why? Mainly because I’ve seen a few cool people wearing them. Trainers seem to bring on that back to the school yard copy the cool kids mentality in everyone. Still buying them though, especially now I’ve seen you wearing them Leandra 😉

  • Alice

    what happened to the old man repeller? the one who took wardrobing oneself to the next level in every post and always wore something different and unique. i’m so sick of this new try hard man repeller. now all you wear and post about is blazer after blazer, paint suit after pant suit, denim jeans and denim shirt, so played out and boring. you’ve sold out to the idea feminism in your posts trying so hard to be something your not, all because the idea of this blog has gotten so much to your head that you’ve forgotten your roots and your carven dresses on your city skyline balcony. its a damn shame. keep trying too hard and selling out though i’m sure all your new fans can care less since they know nothing about the beginning. to the real ones though its pathetic to see a knock off phoebe philo.

    • Leandra Medine

      Hi Alice–so sorry to hear you are sick of the “new man repeller.” Unfortunately (or fortunately) though, my style has changed and because the site functions as a window into just that, I feel it would be inauthentic to continue trying to wear the clothes I loved two years ago if my head is somewhere else now. That said, the site’s ethos remains the same and I do hope you can continue to draw inspiration in at least some form from it.

      • Lucy

        I still find you so inspiring, everything you wear is brilliant and I’ve loved to see you grow to the point you’re happy to post a serious photo of yourself, looking pretty, and thankfully the self deprecating captions have started to dwindle. You are now such a fashion powerhouse! I completely understand that one’s style evolves as they grow, the only thing I feel is that this site is a bit too trend driven now and you are definitely fitting in with the Tommy Ton crowd more these days.

      • Dandy

        Leandra is a fashion blogger of course she is going to be constantly evolving thats not selling out, she’s still man repelling! What would be the point if she stayed the same and never experimented with new trends.

  • Stefany Pham

    I think these are cool but just not my style tho. These kicks have been so “hipster” in Germany lately, seing them just makes me sick. But you pulled them off very well. Also love the colours in your kicks.

  • Romina C

    Love the sneakers and outfit. Yeah, strong punch for Isabel Marant. xRomi

  • a.n.a.l.u

    I am so ready to wear the Nike´s. I already wear all kind of sneakers with my regular outfits, just to balance the sky high heels. Viva la comodidad!


  • Anna Black

    Hahaha love the gif, so funny, love your outfit too!

  • Eva

    Love it. Already bought a pair a few months back and live in them ever since 😉 xx

  • Style-Squared

    Do not get it and never will!:)

  • mulberry&melrose

    “Lisa Frank”!! memories… those trapper keeper memories… -S

  • Reptilia

    Cool sneakers!! They are so comfy and stylish!


  • It’s the Air Max 1 model, not AM 90, that Phoebe (and I’m pretty sure also you) are wearing.

  • Opposite Lipstick
  • Paulina

    I love sneakers and Converse :] even though stilettos look better :p

  • Mich

    Seriously. Thanks for going back to the roots. Why buy Marrant, when you can buy…. can I call it the “REAL” thing? Nike sneakers, that is.

  • G.All

    I feel like American’s are always so behind with fashion… Londoners have been wearing these trainers for fashion for the past couple of years. It’s not a new transition from the marants at all… Well, maybe for Americans. Strange.

    • Molly

      Gah, again with the “Americans do/are/eat/wear” generalizations! We aren’t all the same! I’ve been wearing fashionable sneakers (trainers) for as long as I can remember and I’m most definitely American. And, for good measure, I remember some pretty damn awful sneakers (trainers) worn by Londoners every time I’ve been.

    • Wow what a generalization! The style in London isn’t “ahead” of American style…because American style is, quite literally, all over the map! What we wear in NYC is COMPLETELY different from the LA look, the Miami look, and whatever happens in between. Every city here has its own vibe and, subsequently, its own trends. The only thing I’ll give Londoners and Europeans over the US in general is the guts to bare more and be more comfortable in their own skin. After studying for a year in London, I can say it’s a stylish place, but definitely not “ahead” of my native New York. Just different. More color. More tits. Less bras. That is all.

  • Mona

    Authentic and at the source is perma-in and makes a photo look ageless. I am obsessed with that white shirt, capri pants, big max mara coat,timeless anything. Some sportwear and preppy wear make sense: oxford shirt, timeless tote, navy crew neck sweater… I am loving perma, not meta (like the Isabel Marant version of sneakers)

  • JazJupiter

    although these are classic and look great, I saw that you ‘gramed a picture of the NYC dunk sky highs…which i think is an even better mixture of the style of a wedge sneaker alla Marant but still be nostalgically cool with it being a classic Nike silhouette (the dunk). Great post as usual….

  • Ebru

    It’s true that these and the trailblazers have been all the rage in the UK for a while now. I just adore trainers (sneakers) with anything. Treated myself to a pair of black hightop leather Lanvins recently and they look amazeballs with so many outfits.

  • Fabita Punk

    Funny stuff

  • Kat

    Americans can be rather behind with trends… I agree on that. Asia has been wearing these and New Balance’s for years too now.

  • rhodawong
  • The Provoker

    Oh yeah these Nikes are defo provoking! I’ve just post up my new punk meets high fashion look, I mean other than
    the creepers which aren’t actually punk, I hope the flat metal studs on
    them is an excuse enough to strut in them. Do tell me what you think
    and whether I provoked in punk 😉

    xx The Provoker

  • I love the fact that your writing is pretty interesting, yet your photos make us think even more. I’m in love with your style and your fashion knowledge. I have to say that Google is still my best friend. Great post!

  • Lilli Hagan

    At first the shoe progression from heels to heeled sneakers to nike blazers to nike air max, had scared the living shit out of me. Sydney’s northern beaches folk stereotypically assosciate any kind of nike (other than those used for excersise) with a ‘lad’…what is a lad you ask?

    ‘An Australian term used to describe teenagers who wear a nautica, polo or nike white hat, tilted upright revealing the front of their hair with the strap at the back done up tight so it is dangling out the back, a striped polo or nautica shirt with the collar popped and either saucony or nautica trackies or shorts, topped off with nike Tn’s/airmax which are fresh. These lads think they are tough but are generally small and skinny and travel in packs trying to roll other innocent bystanders for their worth.’ THANK YOU URBAN DICTIONARY

    But upon deep, deep thought I’ve decided that it might actually be to my advantage to wear the featured shoes – nO 1 WiLl MeSs wIT mE

  • I love your style on these 2 photos, great to see you sometimes with sneakers, for my part I am totally glad to see back some of the 90’s big hits of streetstyle — Dislinking totally to see velcro shoes on every body these days ( not colorful enough) 🙂 ….

  • love how you made those tenis shoes look so fashionable. they go perfectly with the suit!

  • Haha! I think if worn right, the sneakers can work. I think I’ll wear a pair that is of a singular colour so as to not make it too overtly obvious that, well, I’m wearing sneakers. And pair it with the right outfit, of course!

  • My Daily London

    Love the nike trainers!!! The colours are beautiful!!

  • Brilliant article, big fan of all this!


  • debbywarner

    You look like a young Gilda (as in Radner) in the first photo. Love Nikes and they are affordable to us mere mortals!

    P.S. Love the GIFs

  • sarah
  • fotini

    You are my icon! You are the man repeller
    visit my blog if you have some time

  • JessiLu

    Sooo…is the Nike Dunk Sky High Top derivative, or are they actually cooler than the Marants? I mean, price not being a factor, if Air Max 90s are throwback cool, Isabel Marant wedge sneakers are five minutes ago…are the Dunks cool? Redundant? Sneakers? Tennies? Trainers? So many, many questions, and I don’t even play basketball.

  • Moshi

    Leandra, those are Air Max 1s. I have been collection Air Max 90s for 5 years and they too are amazing.

    • kika

      as a nike lover I think its kind of an insult to call air max 90s to a pair of air max 1s.

      they are so different! and each have their own history. not to be confused, ever!

  • Sivan Eshel

    Hello! Does anyone not remember the Kangaroos AKA ROOS that came in all kinds of techno colors way back when!??! And all the 90s New Yorkers who wore their trainers with suits on the way to work with NO shame! They were on to something!!

  • Like the idea of wearing sneakers with a dressier look!

  • You look like a Beatles hipster from the 80’s = I freakin LOVE it! Who can argue with comfort AND fashion making sweet love together?

    ♥ Paula Shoe Fiend.

  • Kate Lu

    If you want to know about being chic and wearing sneakers check out South Korean street style. Not only do they rock the comfy kicks but mostly in neon

  • Brigade Noir

    Air Max are great – and that colour combination. Nice.

  • Zeinab

    Love that you incorporated sneakers into this look! Who said sneakers couldn’t be fashionable? My StyleUp’s ( help generate fun outfits like this every night !

  • Love Nike on casual days! Just a perfect way to rest from heels! 🙂

    visit my blog on Xxx

  • Gabriela

    Aren’t these Air Max 1s?

  • Anastasia Lopukhin

    love this

  • Lisa

    I´m in love with your sneakersa>

  • Ditte

    To me, you are truly the new Carrie Bradshaw of our time. Even better!

  • Rachel Bell

    Love the nike sneakers

  • norbert lacle

    I vear mine all the time aaaaah.