Through the years, the sneaker culture has pushed style forward, and more than often they are the early adopters who start the trends then spread them to the rest of the world, eventually trickling into the high fashion scene. There are 12 ways the sneakerheads have impacted men’s fashion and essentially how the world dresses.
1. Selvedge Denim
Buying a pair of raw jeans, wearing them over time, and watching them progress is what changed the game for them to transition from streetwear to more tailored garments. Raw denim just looks better with sneakers! For those that need further evidence, Ronnie Fieg did a “Selvedge” Gel Lyte III, New Balance released a sneaker in collaboration with Cone Mills, and Nike has put denim and leather patches on the Air Force 1.
2. The Birth of the Alphet.
In case you didn’t know alphet is another word for outfit. Having style is all about putting together a complete ensemble. When streetwear took off around 2005, everything was very matchy-matchy. The T-shirt had to match the sneakers. The attention to style detail has formed a generation of guys that are as in tune with what belt they’re wearing as they are with their sneakers or T-shirt. Let’s not forget the obsession with their jackets, button-up shirts, haircuts and much more.
3. We’ve Become Sportier in our Sportswear.
Sportswear has always been a very vital element to the sneaker culture and style, but everything seems to have gotten even more active as time went on. The slim sweats work perfectly with any sneaker build and their durable fabric has made them stretch less, in turn, they’ve become a normal sight to be worn in public. Pigalle and Nike are on their second streetball-inspired collection. The jerseys, shorts, and sneakers flew off the shelves and sold quickly! The sneakerheads involved with the collection releases helped fuel these collaborative ventures.
4. The Second Wave and Commercialization of Streetwear.
Streetwear is simply how the cultures of skateboarding, hip-hop, punk, sneakers, and surf connect and blend their influence. The first wave started in the ’80’s by simply putting on a Sean Stussy signature hat or T-shirt. This style started to slowly disappear during the early 2000’s, until a sneaker-loving subculture brought the second wave of streetwear back to life. The mid-2000s saw a connection of graffiti artists collaborating with sneaker brands. Nike SB becoming a mainstay in everyone’s collections and clothing lines that reflected the color palettes and themes the sneakers presented.
5. Breaking Down the Wall Between Streetwear and Menswear.
The spread of the sneaker culture has reached menswear. How did this happen? A lot of #menswear bros used to be sneakerheads and they wanted to trade in their hardbottom shoes for sneakers such as Nike Frees, New Balance 998s, or Nike Flyknit Racers. Once this began, the T-shirts, sweatshirts, and sweatpants started coming to play. Menswear got more exciting and it made a lot of guys ditch their suits. J. Crew now releases New Balance collaborations, Club Monaco has jumped aboard with Saucony, Mark McNairy has an ongoing collection with Adidas and you’re likely to find someone who owns both Chelsea boots and Air Jordan 1s.
6. Retro Has Gone From Sneakers to Clothing.
Nostalgia sometimes reflects the way we dress. Thanks to the sneakerheads desire to search out sneakers from yesteryear, they also brought back the jerseys, snapback hats, and other items generally associated with the late ’80s and early ’90s. Note of caution: Just because you’re sneakers are from the early ’90’s, it doesn’t mean that your whole outfit needs to be from that period. You can mix and match elements to make your outfit connect.
7. You Can’t Escape Joggers.
The root of the Jogger Pant stemmed from pinrolling jeans, which mirrored the effect of traditional track pants to show off the sneaker. It has seen a resurgence in the sneaker culture. Sneakerheads just wanted to show the world how clean their footwork is. There’s no telling how much longer the Jogger wave will ride out for, but, for now it’s being fueled by those who want to wear their running shoes and those who want to imitate their style.
8. Slides Aren’t Just For The Beach or Ballers.
The slide was created by Adidas to protect the German National Football Team from getting infections in the shower. This look has become a go-to for so many people across the country, but the slides have only been adopted into high style only recently. This year we saw Hiroshi Fujiwara design a pair of Benassi slides for Nike, Supreme released two pairs of slides (black and red), and Raf Simons has his own take on the adilette coming out soon. The lounge, cozy look has become a trend and slides are the laziest footwear you can put on.
9. Socks Are Just as Important as The Sneakers.
For the sneakerhead community, socks are an added statement to their already pre-meditated footwear choice. Sneakerheads can be seen in bright high socks, shorts, and their favorite LeBrons, Kobes, or Air Jordans, while stunting on Instagram. Dwayane Wade has even started his own line with Stance. You’re most likely to get a compliment on your socks as you are your sneakers nowadays.
10. Skateboarding Introduced People to Streetwear and Sneakers.
Since the beginning of time, or skateboarding at least, its style has been copied by those who don’t know the difference between a kickflip and a kickturn, and skaters have always had cool sneakers on their feet! Guys such as Lance Mountain were wearing Air Jordan 1s in the ’80s, and Pat Washington was skating in Saucony Hangtimes at Pier 7 in San Francisco in the early 2000s. A lot of these skaters realized they all had something in common: a love for sneakers. Skateboarding became more mainstream and some of skaters started their own clothing lines.
11. High Fashion Has a Thing For Sneakers.
2014 is the year of the high-fashion sneaker collaboration. Riccardo Tisci released three collections of Air Force 1s, Raf Simons and Rick Owens both work with Adidas on their own line, and Public School got to design its own Air Jordan 1. Tisci has loved the Air Force 1 for over 15 years, Pigalle’s Stephane Ashpool is holding streetball tournaments to coincide with his collab on the Nike Air Raid, and Alexander Wang is sending models down the runway in garments that take their inspiration from sneaker lore.
12. Sneaker Boutiques Were Our First Introduction to Style.
Boutiques hold a special place within the sneaker community since it’s a cultural crossroads and meeting place for those who loves sneakers, hip-hop, basketball, skateboarding, and any related sub-cultures. These stores serve as the foundation for the savvy consumer who just doesn’t want to link up his sneaker choice with whatever is available on the racks at Foot Locker or Finish Line. They’re also the reason why there’s even a discussion of style and sneakers in the first place.