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Here in New York (and in other major cities as well, I presume), seeing businessmen on the train or power-walking on the streets in their suits wearing sneakers is par for the course. NYC involves a lot of foot travel to and from the train, the office, and home, and who wants to ruin their $2,000 Ferragamo loafers on a commute? That’s why in the morning or evening before and after office hours, men in expensive charcoal and black suits pair them with athletic shoes to get them from point A to point B. For a long time, it was a necessary evil. Nobody really wants to be seen wearing sneakers in public, but considering the fact that we’re pretty shameless in New York, being in public is basically like being alone (true story: one time I saw a guy eating a full-on bento box on the subway).
A recent round of fall menswear shows in London, New York, Milan, and Paris seemed to echo this working-man trend as some designers paired sneakers with dress clothing as a sort of cheeky take on très chic. The austere Lanvin show opened with a spectrum of brightly-colored performance sneakers underneath slickly-tailored suit separates. Kris Van Assche showed two-toned sneakers with chunky knitted sweaters and skinny suits for a grown-up mid-winter casual Friday look. Even Marni and Miharayasuhiro jumped on board and paired their sharp tailoring with, of all things, high-tops.
The way that men have made it a point of interest to pair ultra-casual tennis shoes with expensive double-faced suiting for the sake of contrast, just six months after we were all hailing the monk-strap leather shoe the new “It” item for dudes, is only a testament to fashion’s tendency to swing from one extreme to the next.
With this new trend comes the market, naturally. Now, designers are churning out athletic shoe offerings left and right. But if you’re thinking that men are being sold the basics, think again. The sneaker has been revamped; the ubiquitous staple now incorporates more design elements than ever before.
Among the designers jumping on board are Balenciaga, Givenchy, Kenzo, and Lanvin, who have all made athletic shoes that are more low than high street visually, but come with the same detailing and panache as their finest couture. Even Raf Simons collaborated with sporty brand Adidas for a line of funky fresh sneakers with bubble details reminiscent of the 1990s.
One thing’s for sure: whether new school or old school, this year’s rounds of tennis shoes that are being offered by designers have guys sneakin’ around in style.