Fitness buff and Vogue contributor Charlotte Sinclair says trainers are no longer just for sportswear, in fact they are adorning the most fashionable of feet
Thank God for platform heels – if it hadn’t been for that season ago when every shoe seemed to come with a vertiginous wedge of extra height and a stacked heel, making walking on any surface (not least cobblestones) virtually impossible, there would be no backlash and without the backlash, perhaps trainers would not have been such an instant fashion hit. They’re comfortable, they’re cool, and everyone, suddenly, is wearing them.
Not just the zeitgeisty street style pin-ups and pop stars, Cara Delevingne and Rita Ora, Rihanna and Beyonce, but fashion royalty, including Celine designer Phoebe Philo, who first gold-stamped the trend by wearing trainers for her post-show bows (Nike Air Max, New Balance and Adidas Stan Smiths), and then by producing her own version for Celine – an homage to classic skater slip-ons – that sold out in weeks. Labels like Lanvin, Balenciaga, Dior, Kenzo and Pierre Hardy followed suit, leading to the sight at this year’s front rows of bloggers, editors and fashion hounds swapping heels for trainers. (At the Vogue Festival, the magazine’s staffers were dressed in a uniform of pencil skirts, grey marl sweaters and colourful sneakers.) As if this wasn't proof enough that the trainer is cool again, last week Karl Lagerfeld sent every model out on the Chanel couture catwalk wearing a pair, and Riccardo Tisci, Creative Director at Givenchy has for the first time collaborated with Nike to reinvent the sportswear brand's most celebrated style, the Airforce 1.
You could argue that the trend is simply a style hangover from the Olympics or another sign of fashion’s ongoing love affair with the Nineties (when every Britpopper rocked a pair of Adidas Gazelles) – but, really, who cares? All you need to know is that trainers are back. Which means it is now fashionably legitimate to be casually comfortable. Hallelujah. Now all you need do is know who’s wearing hat and what to buy now.
What trainer to buy now
For fashionistas - The Wedge Trainer
Fashionistas favour brand recognition. Luckily, contemporary brands are obsessed with sportswear, from Givenchy sweatshirts and Alexander Wang Tees to Isabel Marant trackpants and, now, trainers. These styles are definitely not for the gym. Marant’s hidden wedge trainers (£385 at www.matchesfashion.com ) have colonized celebrity wardrobes, having been spied on Beyonce, Jessica Alba, Jourdan Dunn, Marion Cotillard and Miranda Kerr. Lanvin’s lace-ups in muted leather and grosgrain ribbons – as worn by Michelle Obama, stylist Taylor Tomasi-Hill and Olivia Palermo - are a stylish, younger way to wear the French label.
For Cool Cats - High tops
High tops are still having a fashion moment – even committed Nike fan, Jourdan Dunn, has been spotted in luxe versions, including a pair by Givenchy in Paisley printed silk and a Chanel version, embellished with leather camellias. You can find Vuitton leather versions embossed with a Stephen Sprouse leopard print (£505, www.louisvuitton.co.uk ) to dress down a cocktail dress, or luxe versions of the classic Vans slip-on style to dress up jeans at Kenzo, Givenchy, Mother of Pearl and the aforementioned Celine.
For Preppy Gals - The retro trainer
For preppy, peppy gals, New Balance 620 trainers for J Crew marry a retro minimalism with zingy pastels (£80, www.jcrew.com ). Superga plimsolls and Converse All Stars both deliver retro, minimalist style for less - as championed by Alexa Chung. (Kristen Stewart is rarely seen out of a pair of Converse or Vans.) While Superga have a new feisty leopard print in store (£55 at www.brownsfashion.com ).
For Tomboys - The Nike Air Max
Sporty tomboys, Rihanna, Cara Delevingne and Rita Ora, also favour Nike Air Max, a bulky, almost deliberately ugly shoe that has the right feel for now – even Victoria Beckham has a pair in sleek silver leather; Beyonce, a pair in gold. (Perfect for trainer addicts obsessed with limited editions, these are guaranteed sell-outs.)
For Kooky Kids - the metallic or colourful trainer
Metallics are big for 2014 – Adidas Originals superstar 2.0s have gold metallic leather on the shoe’s classic three stripes, or on toe-caps. Then there’s Nike Free sneakers, in nuclear shades of neon, brightening up pavements everywhere you look, worn with mid-length skirts (an updated take on Lily Allen’s prom dress and trainers look) and Paige jeans. Design your own – complete with monogrammed label – via Nike ID.
For Sporty Girls - real running shoes
Real sporty girls – by which I mean girls who will be using their trainers for sport rather than merely kicking about Westfield – will be glad to know there are plenty of options that marry style and substance. Asics Gel-Kayano 20 trainers in a zippy orange and hot pink provide support and structure while also looking rather cool, (£120, www.sweatybetty.com ), as do Nike’s Lunarglide 5 in turquoise leopard print, (£130, www.nike.com ). Clearly there’s something about leopard print this season – everyone’s at it, including Stella McCartney for Adidas, on a pair of Ararauna Dance shoes. Stella’s Trochilus boost sneakers (£170) for Adidas are a running shoe in forest green with, helpfully, a camouflage print that looks rather like a pre-applied mud-splatter, a hint of Sunday morning steeplechase. Meaning, as well as looking stylish, you can feel that you’ve exercised even when you haven’t. Which – bear with me – is almost like burning calories via fashion. Clever Stella!