Pandora Sykes, the great stylist and writer, claims that “great seductions have never taken place while wearing a pair of Air Max.” I beg to differ. I conquered my first boyfriend in a pair of black Air Max 90s.
By my early teens, I moved on to my beloved white Air Force 1’s and most recently, a pair of Vans Old Skool classics. As a certain Ms Bradshaw once said, ‘I like my money where I can see it- hanging in my closet.’ Adieu to my overdraft, and then some. Bradshaw heralded the Manolo heel at £745, but for me, there is little potential for courtship here, with far more to be found in the sturdy rubber base of a trainer. I don't feel ‘unsexy’ in a pair of heels, but they feel somewhat inappropriate. Maybe it’s the formality of them, or the height, but they just don’t feel right to twenty year old me, although I’ve been lusting over a gaudy pair of green Saint Laurent Candy platforms for some time now.
The trainer brings with it a nonchalance unachievable in a four inch stiletto. I’m an advocate for the chunky platform heel, but that’s as far as I’ll go. Sykes hits the problem right on the head by declaring trainers should go back to the gym; many women over 30 see the trainer only for it’s origin within sports. I for one, hate the word ‘trainer.’ It makes me think of my mud encrusted ASICS pair from P.E that were shoved under my bed when I left school and haven’t seen the light of day since. THAT’S unsexy. Women can’t seem to take the trainer seriously as a wardrobe staple, just as my mum refuses to fathom the return of the kitten heel.
Many allowed the trainer back into their lives for a fleeting moment, following the re-launch of the Adidas Stan Smith in 2014 and then the Gazelle. But now they’ve become overdone, the coolness of them has arguably gone: the style has disappeared from the feet of older generations bar the yummy mummies. The meeting of high and low fashion allowed for the widespread return of the trainer, although not always in a good way ( eg. the torturous effort by Chanel in 2014.)
The appeal of street wear, of which the trainer is symbolic, is it’s accessible price range and relaxed ethos. It’s about a rejection of outdated dress codes and it can be sexy, when done in the right way. The trainer as we see it today isn’t meant to be worn getting sweaty in the gym. Instead think Lily Allen in a fuscia ballgown frock with Air Jordans at Glastonbury, or recently stylist Kate Foley infamously swapped her uniform of heels for a crisp pair of Vans with an array of Rejina Pyo dresses at fashion week.
But can the image of the trainer as part of Cindy Crawford 1990’s work out videos be shaken? Perhaps not. Maybe the trainer can’t be sexy to everyone. Can some things ever be sexy? Not even Christopher Kane can make Crocs bearable, despite his best efforts at bejewelling them. Instead, great seductions shall take place in my blue wash Levi 95s, paired with an old pair of Adidas Superstars, the shabbier the better.
Hetty Mahlich, Fashion Editor