There are many firsts associated with Kamala Harris being chosen as the Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee for this year’s US elections. She is not only the first woman of colour to be on a major party’s presidential ticket, but also the first to have worn sneakers on her campaign trail. Harris was recently spotted wearing a pair of Chuck Taylor Converse shoes on her first trip to Milwaukee. The dress code at all her campaigns, in fact, is linked to a larger ever-evolving cultural moment defined by her personal style.
Unlike typical outfits for women in politics such as pantsuits, peep-toe pumps or skirt suits, which many candidates have preferred in the past—Sarah Palin (2008), Hillary Clinton (2016), etc—Harris’ choice of footwear is revolutionary. Be it sports or high fashion, sneakers mirror the wearer’s personality and are a statement of individuality. In Harris’ case, her look is comfortable and goes well with her cool image too.
Sneakers can never go wrong, no matter the era. For instance, ‘dad sneakers’ (oversized sneakers in retro style) are a big trend this season. “The chunky kicks add a sporty flair to the look when paired with baggy jeans or can even look chic when paired with a short skirt or dress,” says Manisha Malik, master franchisee and India head of Pazzion, a Singapore-based shoe label, which launched its first store in India in August. “Many brides pair their embellished lehengas with comfy kicks now… that’s the beauty of being practical without compromising on style, and sneakers can add that factor,” adds Malik, whose brand is synonymous with comfort and style. The range of dad sneakers—in contrasting colour blocks like mustard and off-white, pink, blue and off-white, besides classic plimsoll sneakers—go with most attires. The supple genuine leather shoes, with ultra-lightweight elevated rubber soles and a lace-up upper area, are apt for every season.
Similarly, Sneakerhood by Ajio.com, a fashion and lifestyle brand, has curated a collection of over 10,000 sneakers from international and premium Indian brands like Adidas Originals, Emporio Armani, Armani Exchange, ASICS, Converse, DC, Fila, Nike, Puma, Reebok, Adidas, Replay, Superdry and many more. “The growth of sneakers in India indicates its infinite versatility and its stature across the work-life spectrum,” says the spokesperson at Ajio.com.
Sneakers have definitely made a comeback in fashion houses, as many have introduced cult models in their collections. The Kanye West x Louis Vuitton Don is a lace-up shoe, which is available in red, black, cream, patchwork and anthracite. Chanel has gone nostalgic with a 1990s’ style wedged-sole sneaker. While Louis Vuitton Archlight sneakers come with an oversized sole, Dior’s expertise is encapsulated in its unique and strikingly on-trend trainers: the legendary Dior Fusion and the new, ultra-fashionable Dior Happy slip-ons. Charles & Keith’s Spring 2020 collection is inspired by sculptural art, futuristic athleisure and elegant symmetry, bringing eye-catching colour blocks and multi-coloured, micro-suede sneakers. Italian sports brand Fila has collaborated with Delhi-based fashion entrepreneur Anand Ahuja’s Veg Non-Veg, a multi-brand sneaker store, and has also brought out a motorsport collection of footwear in collaboration with Rannvijay Singha of MTV Roadies fame.
The vegan alternatives to leather—synthetic, vegetable or recycled materials—offer one the possibility of wearing sneakers and show support to the animal cause, as well as respect the planet. Reebok’s plant-based running shoe, for instance, is made of eucalyptus, algae and castor beans. The Forever Floatride GROW is an update of Reebok’s award-winning Forever Floatride Energy shoe. Unlike traditional petroleum-based footwear, this iteration is derived from plants and other renewable agricultural elements. With this update, Reebok has taken a proactive approach to build on the brand’s belief that it has the responsibility to drive a positive impact on the planet with shoes that are ‘made with things that grow’.
French shoe brand CAVAL, too, launched its first sustainable and vegan alternative in June: an ultra-trendy and colourful pair for sneakers made partially with pellemela, a recycled material made from apple peels. Adidas, too, has collaborated with Stella McCartney for its Stan Smith sneakers, which have been crafted from vegetarian leather.