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Goodbye High Heels & Brogues – Hello Designer Sneakers

What would you say if your future son-in-law would wear a super-elegant tux for his wedding? Paired with… sneakers. You need to get used with this image, because designer sneakers are taking over the scene of formal footwear. There are plenty of reasons to choose sneakers over high heels or Oxfords and one of them is comfort. Then, there is the drastic shift of perception brought on by millennials, as well as the strong message send by this new breed of trendsetters.

The Red Carpet: From Oxfords to sneakers

Not long ago the label put on someone who wore a pair of sneakers with a formal or semi-formal outfit had a lot of negative connotations. Your grandfather needed to wear sneakers to be able to walk on his rheumatism-deformed feet. Your brother who just came from the gym threw a shirt and a suit on him and went to the party in a blissful ignorance on what is fashion. Those who wore sneakers with a suit were either unable to walk in a dress shoe, either deeply ignorant. And then Steve Jobs came on the scene and made a statement by wearing sneakers at formal events, but everyone said he could do whatever he wanted because he was the boss of Apple Inc.

Couple of years forward and now when someone wears their designer sneakers with a suit is stylish!
This change came from the red carpet, where men and women adopted the sneaker, pairing it with couture dresses and suits. Out of a sudden, the millennials were shifting the boundaries of what is acceptable in terms of dress shoes. Sneakers showed up on the runway more often, paired with formal suits and men all over the world were now choosing to feel comfortable instead of just stylish.

The roots of the designer sneaker

The effort to make the sneaker a formal form of footwear is seen as a collective movement, but many fashion magazine editors believe this movement started in Europe. In the last decade more and more Europeans wore their sneakers with formal or smart casual outfits, making the former gym-wear a fashion statement. Step by step, the American sneaker culture was embraced by Europeans, who paired the comfy shoe with linen jackets when they went to their five o’clock tea. Robert Rabensteiner, L’Uomo Vogue’s fashion editor encouraged men from both parts of the Atlantic to adopt this new trend.

At the same time, the sneaker was becoming a common presence in the American offices. Millennials were turning into entrepreneurs and they run their own businesses, innovating and creating new technologies. In the creative and web industry 30-something men wanted to spend their busy day wearing comfortable, rubber-sole shoes instead of Oxfords. In the last years, more and more companies embraced this trend and allowed their employees to wear sneakers even on formal occasions. Even in the most formal companies, employees are allowed to wear sneaker, even if it’s only for casual Friday.

The designer sneaker trend is more than just a way to stay comfortable at work; it’s a way of sending a strong message. Millennials are here and they run the world now, revolutionizing how things work and look. From this point of view, the sneaker/suit pair is a way to signal others that you belong to a new generation, who is not afraid to shift perceptions and step on old stereotypes.

Fashion statement designer sneakers

Pulling off this new style requires an attitude, but the sneaker is also changing, so it can be easier to be seen as a dress shoe. From sneakers made from leather to colorful sneakers, designers experiment with pretty much everything. They are reinventing the old gym shoe, as the sneaker is reinventing fashion.

One of the most popular designer sneaker has to be the Balenciaga chunky footwear, which is often seen on the Red Carpet paired with haute couture dresses. After all, the sneaker has long been linked to luxury designers. Gucci was the first big brand to introduce a sneaker in their collection, back in 1984.

Wearing designer sneakers as dress shoes is all about blending the limits. The sneaker is the ultimate athletic shoe, so the very idea of a designer sneaker or a formal sneaker is a contradiction itself. The fact most rappers wear sneakers on the Red Carpet and at formal events is a strong message, given the fact rappers are challenging the norms.

Looking at the trend of designer sneakers from a broad perspective you can see it as a sign of significant change in terms of popular culture and norms. Just like our grandparents were rebelling by wearing leather jackets and jeans, while listening to rock and roll, we are now rebelling wearing designer sneakers and choosing to be comfortable at all times.