Whatever you call them, retro sneakers or tennis shoes, the original gym shoes are on fire. They are having a huge fashion moment that has been gaining steam for several years. Vulcan was the god of fire. Vulcanized shoes (heat-treated rubber) are the original canvas athletic shoes that have been around for more than 100 years. The technique doesn’t really matter; these comfy retro kicks are the casual shoe of choice for urban hipsters, cool kids and suburban fashionistas alike. These quaintly low-tech shoes, appeal to the most tech-obsessed crowd. They offer a certain rebellious contrast to the uber-engineered athletic shoes. Retro sneakers provide hip comfort and are cheaper too, leaving vulcanistas with more cash for their techno toys.
Shopping in Soho last week, the Converse store midday, was almost as busy as an Apple store. It was the most active store on a long shopping trek around the neighborhood. The crowd was concentrated around their custom design bar and self-serve shoe window. Customization allows the customer the ultimate in sneaker self-expression.
Sizzling fashion sneaker brands include Converse (MA 1908), Superga (Italy 1925), Vans (CA 1966) and Uggs (CA 1978). There are many other wholesale and private label brands, too. Styles include high, low tops and boot styles for men women and children. There are sexy platforms and high heels in addition to the traditional flat eyelet and slip-ons. Unusual materials and color create newness. Uppers include solid canvas, metallics, leathers, prints, dip dyes, quilting, distressed and ornamentation such as studs. These red-hot styles are featured at major shoe emporiums like Nordstrom, Finish Line, Zappos, and just about everywhere else!
Dix&Pond is the blog of www.dixandpond.com Creative and strategic consulting for retail and wholesale apparel, shoe and consumer product companies.