Sneakers and lace

Sneakers and Lace

Sneakers and lace

Sneakers and Lace

Hollywood actor Kristen Stewart’s deep blue Vans paired with a white, elegant, shimmering Chanel dress on the Cannes red carpet this year made multiple statements. One, the fashion value of her “whatever” gesture to TV cameras underlining that for her the pair of lace-up Vans were as glamourous as the black vertiginous Christian Louboutins she wore (with the same dress) on the red carpet. So yes, she slipped out of her heels into the sporty pair. It was her way of standing up against dressing norms for female actors expected to wear high heels. But Stewart, who could have worn flat sandals to make the same point, chose sneakers instead.

In other words she favoured the high street look—sporty shoes with dresses—currently the single most popular fashion trend across the world. A trend that has sneaked in and out, trickled up and down from sport-inspired casual wear into mainstream fashion; from high street to the ramp and then the red carpet. Riding on a dress if not cropped trousers and loose grungy tops but most interestingly with a lace ensemble or a lace dress, sneakers continue to hog fashion headlines.

Sneakers which became fashion’s alpha wear last year, perhaps even before that, refuse to step down from that position. Read this to tap what’s going on. Fashion blogs and online portals are bursting with sneaker trends and sneaker revivals. Step into any fast fashion store—Zara, H&M, Forever 21, Topshop, Promod; department stores whether its Lifestyle, Shopper’s Stop, Globus or Pantaloons in India, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom or Sears in the US, Harrods in London, Bon Marche in Paris or Isetan in any Asian country, there is an outpouring of sneaker shoes and lace garments. Zara currently stocks fabulous silver sneakers and a good selection of lace dresses, tops and pants in colours that range from white to deep emerald to juicy orange. H&M has its own sneaker trail—the most fundamental being plain white canvas plimsolls that may remind you of school days and wet whiteners. And if you grew up and went to school in India of Bata shoes.

Gold sneakers (Adidas Stan Smiths, Nike Air Max, Reebok Dance, Steve Madden, Giuseppe Zanotti to name some), white sneakers (Adidas Neo, Gliders by Liberty, Zara, Puma, Sandro, Bata), the choice is endless. I recently visited a shoe promotion and sale at Macy’s in New York and was struck by the variety in sporty shoes—non-flashy checked and floral Keds were my favourite finds.

Indian designers like Ruchika Sachdeva for Bodice, Sanchita Ajjampur, Anand Bhushan, and Rajesh Pratap Singh are some of the many who have displayed sneakers on the ramp with their clothes. Bhushan sent out many a white sneaker with his collection Deuce for Spring Summer 2016. While Pratap paired gold sneakers with his Autumn/ Winter 2016 collection, and Ajjampur dazzled the audience with her cool sporty shoes (her shoes are always distinctive and statement making), designer Rimzim Dadu took her bow wearing a pair of white sneakers. Manish Arora is always seen in funky sneakers—fuchsia-orange if not bright gold.

Then there is lace that always stood for femininity, elegance, haute couture (even elitism—think Indian queens or the European aristocracy). Today it is part of prêt. Earlier this week The Guardian ran an article on the Azaelea dress (a lovely strappy creation in lace available in half a dozen alluring hues), calling it “the dress for the selfie generation”. The piece that outlined the dress’ appeal and accessibility for everyone from Instagrammers to A-listers started with a very relevant sentence: “an era-defining piece of clothing can tell us about the times we are living in.”

That to me is the heart of the sneakers and lace trend—worn together or separately—they are era-defining trends. They lend a visual vocabulary to our times: around us are global interpretations of mixing an haute couture tool (lace) with a high street accessory (sneakers), expensive and affordable fashion, youth culture with middle aged comfort.

Listing the options though is one thing—taking back fashion lessons and other observations another. One is how alongside the growing emphasis around gender fluid dressing and androgynous impulses in fashion, there is the rise of lace—which had nothing androgynous about it till Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele interpreted it for men. Whereas sneakers may fundamentally signify the high street look but when paired with dresses or cropped jeans, they stand as much for youth culture. Yet today they are a part of “something for everyone fashion”—more and more women in their forties and fifties in fact, wear sneakers—polka dotted Keds or floral plimsolls included. This blurring of age comfort is a captivating outcome. The sneaker craze has in fact, made the sight of not-so- young Indian women in salwar kameez sets worn carelessly chosen sneakers—once seen as seriously dumpy—a forgivable choice. How things change!

So here is a quick style tip: find a good pair of gold and white sneakers (Adidas Stan Smiths could be given a consideration), pair them with a draped khadi skirt, a printed kurta- top in mulmul with long slits on the sides and an off white lace overlay.