My love letter to trainers: regardless of the fashion world’s opinion

Why I’m not sweating it about the lack of kicks on the catwalk. In fact, I’m rather relieved…

At Milan Fashion Week last week, critics and designers alike appeared to decree that the trainer trend is dead (*insert horror face emoji here*). With a distinct lack of sneakers on both the catwalk and the front row, it would appear that fashion has fallen out of favour with its athleisure obsession. As a lifelong trainer lover, you might think that I’m worried by this news. But actually, I’m really not bothered, and neither should you be, my fellow sneakerheads. Here’s why.


Trainers have been an integral part of my wardrobe – and my life – since I was 13. I didn’t need Phoebe Philo at Céline to tell me that adidas Stan Smiths were cool six years ago, and it wasn’t a slew of copycat catwalk Vans that got me into slip-on sneakers. Plenty of us were already well aware of the joy of kicks, having found our own route to them, whether that was via Britpop, Hip Hop, or actual sport. And while I appreciate that high fashion’s recent love of athletic shoes has helped bring designs for women along leaps and bounds, namely in the side effect of there being more choice in smaller sizes from most of the leading sports labels (FINALLY!), I think it’s also done a fair bit of damage to this style of footwear that I won’t be sad to see the back of.

Screen Shot 2019-02-28 at 20.08.29

The high fashion trainer reared its almost exclusively ugly head around the year 2014. They started fairly modestly, with a Chanel or a Burberry take on a running shoe: in fact, a vast improvement on the tacky logo-splattered designer trainers of the past. Next, they made it onto the couture schedule, with Dior’s ‘Fusion’ trainer; a highly embellished sneaker with a price tag of over £700. Literally fit for a princess. And more recently, Louis Vuitton brought out its space age ‘Archlight’, a futuristic dad trainer, whose debut I was sitting front row to witness in Paris, and a more ugly trainer I never did see. A few months later I spotted a girl in the West End struggling to walk in a pair – their oversized bubble heel was causing her to bounce in an ungainly manner, a little like she was on the moon. At this point I realised that fashion had ruined the main reason we all fell in love with trainers – comfort – because this girl may as well have been wearing a pair of six inch heels.


Fashion is a fickle beast, and I’ve been feeling the trainer tipping point coming on for a while. But something I always bang on about here on En Brogue is how important it is to find your own personal style and to stay true to it. Sure, experiment with new fads and trends, but when you find something that works for you, don’t bin it off just because Planet Fashion says so. We might not be seeing sneakers so much on the catwalk or the front row anymore, but there are still plenty of brilliant brands making beautiful, affordable, often sustainable versions that are, in my opinion, much cooler than their high end counterparts anyway. Traditional favourites like white leather tennis shoes from Seven Feet Apart, for example, or more contemporary classics such as Allbirds‘ Wool Runners, all with a reasonable price tag. This is to be celebrated! Not to mention the inexpensive sports labels that got you into trainers in the first place; adidas Gazelles and Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars will always have a special place in my heart. Trainers absolutely work for me, and I won’t be giving mine up any time soon. But then, I never invested in a pair of designer kicks I couldn’t actually walk in…

If you enjoyed this article and love trainers too, you might like my book – En Brogue: The Trainers Guide. Available for £10 from Waterstones and all good book stores.

Tagged with: