Anna Murphy, editor of The Times Fashion, recently said that trainers are the new power shoes. With respect, I feel she's a little late to this party! 🥳 Clearly, you Cocorosers have been trailblazing this trend for some time now. And, right on cue, I'm delighted to let you know that our trainer collection has been updated with some brand new styles and that our Cocorose classics are now back in stock. Just click here to browse and shop.
But just how did the humble trainer turn designer, and how on earth did it overtake heels as the shoe of choice in women's fashion?
After years of the gap closing, 2016 was the first year in which sales of women’s trainers outstripped those of heeled shoes. 37% of UK women who had bought footwear in 2016 bought trainers, compared to 33% who bought shoes with heels. There is little doubt that this is a trend that has continued to the present day – with flat shoes in general being preferred to shoes with a heel, as well. But why has the humble trainer gained so much traction - so much Power - as the designer shoe of choice, to pair not only with sportswear but also smarter outfits?
The answer, as such issues often are, is multi-faceted. You can almost certainly trace the birth of the role of the trainer in modern fashion back to early hip-hop and also early punk. When members of the likes of The Ramones and The Sex Pistols took to the stage and were seen out in trainers, as opposed to the Doc Martens that pervaded the scene, that created a wave all of its own. Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood was heavily invested in the punk scene, so her outfits were no doubt influenced by this and made to look good with trainers as well as DMs.
Then, as the punk scene faded in the ‘80s, the mantle was taken up by a new wave of hip-hop stars, the mark of which continues to this day.
But the piece that really stands out for me, as it was during 'my time' in footwear, was the 2014 Chanel Supermarket show that Karl Lagerfeld staged at the Grand Palais. He sent the models out in lurex leggings and midriff-baring pink tracksuits and teamed the chic athleisure-wear with none other than trainers. Although trainers had been making a scene at the international trade shows in the preceding years (and I very much witnessed the rise of the trainer during these years), Chanel's show felt like the go-ahead for trainers to finally be accepted as designer footwear.
But it’s not just this in and of itself that is important; it is everyone who was influenced by hip-hop and its fashion statements. Consider pop artists inspired by the scene – the likes of The Spice Girls of the '90s, when it was very much about Girl Power. They made feminism 'cool' and opened it up to a younger generation, which of course the media and fashion industry loved. I remember when I first saw them on the cover of The Sunday Times Style Magazine. I just remember thinking WOW, they're so COOL! They wore tracksuits and little halterneck tops and mini dresses and paired them with trainers (not sure if Posh Spice wore trainers though?).
Regardless, if Posh Spice didn't wear trainers back then, the Victoria Beckham of today certainly does – and her own brand even has a line of trainers. You have basketball players, footballers and other celebrities, many of whom are directly or indirectly inspired by this initial counter culture, until the lines are blurred and it is no longer clear who is influenced by who.
There is a complex network of interwoven links – a flow of relationships all revolving around the designer trainer. Obviously this affects men and women alike, but the high-heeled shoe was so synonymous with all aspects of women’s fashion that the impact of the trainer in managing to overtake it is all the more impressive. Add to that the fact that women’s shoes are a bigger part of the market as a whole and you get a cultural phenomenon that sends shock waves throughout the fashion industry, wholesalers and retailers alike.
In addition to the cultural and celebrity influences, the emphasis on comfort (helped by increased women’s empowerment and equality) over suffering for a certain look most certainly plays a role in designer trainers becoming the new power shoes. More and more women are finding that there really is no need to compromise between style and comfort. And, I think we all agree, all power to the trainer for this.