The Rise (Without Fall) of Women’s Sneakers
For a long time, women’s sneakers have been confined into the small circle of sporting shoes: until the late Nineties of the last century, just a few women over the age of 18 dared to use them as a type of fashion footwear. Things have started to change radically with the advent of the mobile devices and the social media era. When Instagram stars became the real trend-setters, sneakers started to turn into a fashion item even for women over a certain age, to the point that seeing a model who walks over a catwalk wearing a pair of sporting shoes didn’t seem an extravagance anymore.
Obviously, the predilection of many female social media celebrities for sneakers is not enough to explain such a worldwide feat. There are many factors that have contributed to this sudden, and to a large extent unpredictable, success. We can detect at least five.
- Gender fluidity. During the Third Millennium swapping male and female clothes and accessories has become a habit, as well as a way, for many people, to show their creativity and their originality. That’s why many women started to wear men’s sneakers under female clothes, including gowns.
- Queerness. Strictly related to the first point, this word indicates an uncompromising peculiarity, like if an individual doesn’t recognize himself/herself in a specific social group. Sometimes it is related with gay culture (female or male), but this is not mandatory. Being a misfit to the society implies rethink any conventional dress code, and elaborate a new one, totally personal and autonomous. Something that, for example, is able to match sneakers with a pinstriped suit.
- Sport and fitness. This was initially the real boost to the sneakers’ spread, and even today it remains a fundamental pillar. The difference, now, is that taking care of our physical condition has become a precise lifestyle and a trend, with its codes and rituals, even from an aesthetic point of view. For those – whether men or women – who practice a “fit” way of life, wearing a pair of sneakers even when they’re not training, is by now a distinguishing mark, an element that defines their personalities, sometimes more than any other attire.
- Designers’ intervention. Obviously, in order to turn a “conventional” pair of male sneakers into an actual piece of fashion, the designers’ work has been crucial. A thorough research on materials, shapes, colors, trims and finishes has managed to redefine the concept itself of sneaker into something more “fashionable”. Adding a pinch of pure aesthetic to a pattern based essentially on comfort and functionality.
Female touch. Last but not least, throwing a female gaze on sneakers has meant giving them an alternative point of view, able to fulfill the expectations of those who don’t conceive this type of footwear just like something useful to go out for jogging or practice any other sport activities. Turning the ordinary – and definitely masculine – basket shoes into fancy women’s high top sneakers has been quite a trip from the very beginning of this “revolution”.