Pristine white sneakers – like the kind from our school days – have stepped up as fashion’s go-to, must-have, match-anything kicks. Why white sneakers, and why now? We report on its utilitarian appeal.
The fervour for the all-white sneaker rides the wave of sporty shoe styles – these include both the performance kinds and those that merely ride on the athletic aesthetic. There were the high-profile launches like the Nike + R.T. Air Force 1 collection Riccardo Tisci designed with Nike in April (the collection has since gone into its third instalment, with a latte shade launched in September). Then came the couture sneakers phase – luxe versions of the humble trainers by fashion houses like Chanel and Dior – with their heavy embellishments and high-impact appearance.
Sometime between all that, the clean and pared-down all-white sneakers began showing up at Fashion Week, and as the footwear of choice for insiders who want something bold and edgy, but not distracting. (For Phoebe Philo, Raf Simons and Marc Jacobs, it’s their de facto uniform.) Simon Porte Jacquemus paired the oversized silhouettes of his F/W ’14 show with chunky white sneakers that call to mind Adidas Originals’ famous Stan Smith. Ditto at Acne Studios, where the normcore-tinged Resort ’15 looks were grounded by the same look.
Part of the revival of this look could be traced to the relaunch of classic retro models: Adidas Originals reintroduced its signature Stan Smith model at the beginning of this year after an absence of two years; California brand K-Swiss went big for Fall with a range of muted designs inspired by the classic tennis court shoes of the ’60s.
But the grand dame of white shoes is surely Czech Republic brand Bata, which marks its 120th anniversary this year. It recently went on a worldwide initiative to woo customers with its Bata Tennis shoes. It was originally a school shoe model for kids in India, and half a billion pairs have been sold in the country alone. Till this day, they are still produced in the Calcutta factory that has been making them since 1936.
This time round, the canvas and rubber-soled style has a more hip quotient, with boutiques like Colette in Paris, and the Dover Street Market outposts in London, New York and Tokyo as stockists.
In Singapore, the model (along with other colourways like sky blue and dusty pink) is available via an online pop-up store (check www.batatennis.com.sg for updates) for $79.95, and limited to 200 pairs. Better walk the walk quickly if you want a pair.
This article was originally published in Female November 2014.