Shoe Trends and their Origins

Sophomore, Hailey Kuhl speaks on how sneaker culture has never lost its shine on the youth.

As teens today, the things we wear show a lot about who we are as a person and how we present ourselves. While shirts, pants, hats, etc, are all important to an outfit, one of the most important parts are the shoes themselves. The shoes that teens wear today vary from style and brand, but there are certainly some notable trends amongst what specifically is worn.

A well-loved shoe as of now is the Nike Air Force 1, which was created about 35 years ago. It’s Nike’s highest selling shoe, and according to Fame Magazine UK, “10,000,000+ pairs are sold each year,” (Fame Magazine). With this number, there is no denying the obsession with the shoe. I asked one of my friends at GLHS, sophomore Hannah Young, what she loves so much about the shoe. She answered, “It was right after Christmas so a few of my friends had gotten them, and I was like (sic) omg these are cute, (sic) and also Pinterest.”

Not only have the Nike Air Force 1s become a popularized shoe throughout the past few years, but other Nike shoes have too. These include the Nike Cortez, typically rocked in a white base with red and blue accents. While the shoe was adored years ago, it continues to be trendy, stylized by teens today with its flashy colors. The shoe is also shown on many “80s” tv shows, including the highly successful 80s inspired TV Show Stranger Things that many teens tune into. When asking a fellow GLHS student, sophomore Estella Swies, about what draws her to the shoe, she said “I liked that it had colors but was still simple,” she continued, “[The shoes] added color without being too chaotic for me...They just look kind of vintagey and I like it.”

Another staple in teen sneaker wear is Converse. Converse has been a wildly loved shoe brand for decades, and many kids still wear them today. Another GLHS student, Kristyna Marinov, says she likes the classic black All Stars because, “they went with everything I was wearing at the time and still do. They were just the shoes that I felt like were essential to fit with everything I wore.” Another student, Parramoi Jompar, a frequent Converse buyer, mentioned how she enjoyed the brand itself. She said, “I feel like I’m comfortable with wearing [them] for long hours or [on] multiple occasions. They have so many styles ranging from the classic plain chuck taylors to animal prints or even collabs with influencers/events. I love purchasing their limited editions or collabs because they’re unique one-time pieces that aren’t seen often. I tend to stick to their white shoes because they can match so many styles which is great for me since I love switching it up frequently.” The shoe itself is also heavily prevalent in different TV Shows such as Euphoria, which is a show that has many teens today hooked. The main character, Rue, rocks a classic pair of black shoes throughout the course of the series.

Besides notable brands like Converse and Nike being sought after amongst teens, the overall trend of “Sneaker Culture” has engulfed the minds of many. For many teens, collecting trending shoes has become an adored hobby. In an article written by Rob Lammle from Mental Floss explaining the history of Sneaker Culture, it’s noted that sneaker culture originated during the 1970s from the rise of hip hop and b-boy culture in New York City. People would buy and collect many sneaker pairs to show off their style, and the shoes themself became a symbol of status and showed how cool you were (Lammle).

In other words- the continued obsession with sneaker culture is many teen’s desires to be seen as “cool” and “desirable” to others. In addition, Lummle mentions the influence of basketball and the introduction of revolutionary shoes like Air Jordans made from Nike and Michael Jordan spurred the frenzy of sneaker culture even more. He adds, “The shoes proved so popular that, by the early 1990s, some estimates say that 1 in every 12 Americans had a pair of Air Jordans,” (Lummle). In addition, people bought and collected “rare pairs” to keep for themselves or sell later on at a cash-grabbing price. (Lummle).

The popularity of shoes like Air Jordans and sneaker culture as a whole is still widely enjoyed today, with the price of these pairs varying. Less “rare” shoes are around the hundred dollar marker, but rare, low stock, highly sought after shoes can be somewhere in the thousands. In an article published about the Nike Air Jordan 1 x Dior, written by Jonathon Sawyer, the pair is said to go for around €1,900 (Sawyer).

Although sneaker culture and sneaker like shoes are some of the most loved shoes by teens today, another significant brand is Doc Martens. Doc Martens, according to a New York Times article by Alex Tedula, were created by Dr. Klaus Märtens for more everyday workers like police officers, postal carriers, but later on became highly used in punk and alternative fashion (Tedula). A GLHS student, Alana Amer, who owns a pair of the boots, answered my question about why she bought the shoes. She told me “What I really like about them is how they are simple enough to match with a lot of things and can make any outfit look a lot better. I guess I really like how you don’t have to style them one certain way.”

Now that a few shoe styles and brands have been covered, why are teens so drawn to these kinds of shoes? Well, from the perspective of some GLHS students, it’s based on what they see other people wearing, like celebrities or on social media apps, as well as how comfortable the shoe is and how they go with their everyday attire. In addition, some like the “vintage” appearance and because of how unique certain shoes look. The uniqueness of a shoe, and specifically ones that may appear more “vintage” make an outfit stand out and appear more original, which is why those shoes are so appealing.

Overall, shoe trends are interesting to observe in what teens are wearing, and any shoe is certainly an important part of an outfit!

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