It’s been over a decade since white trainers became a womenswear staple. Yes, we’re marking it by the exact moment Phoebe Philo took her bow on the #oldceline runway, in March 2011, wearing a pair of Adidas Stan Smiths.
A year before, at her debut show for the brand, the designer had chosen the same cigarette pant and roll-neck combo, grounded with a pair of leather loafers instead. While this ensemble was undeniably chic in its androgynous insouciance, there was something about those not-so-box-fresh trainers that seemed almost rebellious. Fashion was all about polish, after all.
Before then, women were shackled to platform stilettos – Louboutin reigned in the early-Noughties – or flimsy ballet flats at best. Womenswear was crying out for a shoe that wasn’t defined by its femininity or sexiness. The lack of comfort and practicality in clothes design is proof of the patriarchy’s influence (the gender pocket gap is based on the assumption women always carry handbags). Trainers weren’t for ladies, trainers were for teenagers, or gym classes.
Which brings us on the next trend that helped create the trainers way of life: athleisure. Alongside an interest in Soul Cycle, green juices, clean eating and healthy hashtags came the rise and rise of sporty clothing. Soon designers were incorporating all of its aesthetic tropes – tricolour webbing, side stripes and technical nylon – into their luxury line-ups. Clare Waight Keller’s spring/summer 2016 collection for Chloé, which featured floor-sweeping floral skirts teamed with track jackets, epitomised this high-low mix.
It was in this exact year that Stan Smith sales hit an all-time peak, with those who hadn’t even heard of Phoebe Philo rushing out buy a pair (Miranda Priestly’s famous trickle down theory from The Devil Wears Prada springs to