Say Goodbye To Heels; Sneakers Are Here To Stay

During the 1980s, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority held a strike in New York City, which resulted in the city’s subway system and bus lines being shut down for several days. However, life goes on for the three million citizens, and women even formed the “sneaker brigade,” swapping their heels for athletic sneakers to commute to work. Born out of necessity, the sneaker craze persisted even after mass transit was restored and became a wardrobe staple for many women.

The popularity of sneakers has grown exponentially in recent years, and this shift corresponds to a global shift toward female liberation. The gentler sex is reclaiming their bodies and breaking free from the male gaze. Furthermore, the casualization of work wear, which began even before Covid, has reached new heights, with working from home becoming the new norm.

The transition from heels to sneakers has taken a long time, and the foundation of this trend is a preference for comfort. Previously thought to be only appropriate for casual settings, the winds of change have changed the way society chooses their outfits, and sneakers are now appropriate for most occasions, including the red carpet. Clearly, after nearly several lockdowns and extended periods of staying at home, the preference has shifted to cosy attire. According to NPD, formal and flashy footwear sales are still lower than in 2019.

This means that market share for sneakers has steadily increased over the last three years and is gradually becoming the most common work shoes. The options range from streetwear brands like Nike, Adidas, and Puma to designer labels like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Alexander McQueen, Fendi, and others.

Oversized sneakers from Alexander McQueen

There are various types of sneakers, and those with chunky soles provide the most comfort. Take, for example, Alexander McQueen’s oversized sneakers or Balenciaga’s Triple S, which have bulky soles that not only provide extra cushioning when worn but also help to elevate one’s height. They are a favorite among celebrities and models, including Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, and Hailey Bieber, and are the go-to footwear that is both comfortable and stylish. The rise of streetwear styling has also contributed to the normalization of sneakers, not to mention the massive market, which is expected to reach US$196 billion by 2030.

Fashion companies are aggressively pursuing this cash cow by releasing new models or announcing collaborations each season. Gucci x Adidas has recently been the most lauded collaboration, which speaks volumes about the pervasiveness of sneakers. While sneakers have been a part of the fashion industry for a long time, the majority of them have been marketed exclusively to men due to their more masculine designs. Women’s interest in sneakers has grown, and brands are launching an entire line geared toward women, including simpler and cleaner silhouettes. In most cases, the goal is to complement the overall look that one is wearing rather than to have sneakers as the focal point of an outfit.