Nike x Off-White Air Max 90. Yohji Yamamoto x Adidas Y-3 Futurecraft Runner 4D II. Reebok’s revamped Instapump Fury. Air Jordan x Travis Scott 1 ‘Cactus Jack’. Puma Storm. To the uninitiated, these names won’t mean much, but ask a sneakerhead, nay sneaker geek in India, and they’ll confirm these are some of the best sneakers released in 2019 alone.
If you haven’t woken up to how big sneaker culture has gotten, both internationally and in India, consider this article a cheat sheet to catching up with the raging footwear zeitgeist. And it’s a culture alright. Sneaker love was always big, but over the past five years, it has exploded, its enthusiasts following sneaker news eagerly for ‘drops’ (or launches) they can cop before anyone else. The first six months of the year have already seen several big launches – too many to be even able to count – all pointing to the fact the shoe style is bigger than ever. Early last month, when the much anticipated Yeezy Boost 350 v2 trainers in ‘Black Static’ were to drop, not only did stores in the UK and US see snaking lines outside to buy Kanye West’s shoe, but sites like Footlocker and JD Sports crashed due to heavy traffic.
Global and local style icons are wearing them and even collaborating with brands to create new designs. There is the Gigi Hadid x Reebok Aztreks, Selena Gomez is designing for Puma, and in April, Beyonce announced how she is joining hands with Adidas. Add to that the buzz around athleisure and street style peaking, and you have a footwear trend that refuses to back down. So much so that even storied fashion houses have taken cognizance of this popularity – Louis Vuitton has its Archlights, Balenciaga’s the Triple S, and Gucci its Ace.
Sneaker geeks are on the rise, and it’s no different in India. When Adidas celebrated the launch of the Nite Jogger in May this year, it was an event packed not just with Ranveer Singh’s star power, but also attended by sneaker lovers of all ages. In April, Anand Ahuja’s VegNonVeg joined hands with Fila to launch the limited edition Masala Mindblower shoe. Two months before that, Puma created an experiential pop-up space to celebrate its RS-X range launch, and roped in artists like Adarsh Balak, Nishant Fogaat, Tejas Nair, and Aniruddh Mehta, who created their own rendition of the RS-X shoe to be displayed at the event.
So much is the demand for sneakers that recently Adidas Originals Yeezy Boost 700 Utility Black were being made available via a raffle at DLF Promenade, New Delhi, and on the first-come-first-serve basis at all touch points. Last year, Soledition, India’s first sneaker fest took place that saw sneaker aficionados from India and all over the world converge in Delhi. It was a platform showcasing some of the best sneakers one could possibly lay their eyes on.
But what is it that makes this a trend that cuts across all sections? Where you have singer-performer Badshah flaunting his Air Jordans and Balenciagas, there is also Bengaluru-based fashion consultant Allen Claudias putting up his latest Yeezys on his Instagram feed. Actor Ranbir Kapoor has his Ylatis and Peter Nons, and Delhi-based chef Ravish Bhavnani, his 61-shoe sneaker collection he has been putting together since 2006. Where you’ll see actor Diljit Dosanjh in Versace2Chainzs, Maison Margiela, and Saint Laurent sequin high tops, Gokul M, a Bangaluru- based publicist keeps his social media buzzing with statements sneakers by Alexander McQueen, Jeremy Scott, Supreme, and Pharell Williams. Joel Paes, a Goa/New Delhi-based graphic designer is another sneakerhead; his love for statement sneakers includes couture pieces by Rick Owens.
But what really is the appeal of sneakers? We spoke to seven lovers of sneakers to tell us what it is about trainers that they love so much.