SNEAKER-HEDONISM

The creps that launched a thousand...instagram stories? 

Though many of you (particularly my Instagram followers) will be sick of hearing about the Nike Air Max OG 95s by now, I certainly am not. And to the rare few who hate on this timeless, 22-year-old sneaker, I have one thing to say, or rather, three: "Kiss. My. Airs." Yes. It has happened. Titi Finlay, the girl whose stomach acid once boiled at the speculation of spending more than £40 on an item of clothing or footwear, has purchased her first ever pair of 'hype' trainers and, almost overnight, become a 'Sneakerhead'. Almost.

What is a Sneakerhead, you might ask? Well, if you're aged 13-27, I need not explain - you're all on Instagram. But for those who don't spend a minimum of one hour per day scrolling through the aforementioned platform's bottomless (or bottom-ful? There are a lot of bottoms on the 'gram) pit of sunsets, scantily-clad women and sneakers, an air of confusion may still surround the term as it encircles your mind. You could type 'What is a Sneakerhead?' into Google, and be given the following explanation: 'A sports shoe enthusiast.' But a Sneakerhead is so, so much more than that and I think the following is quite a good example of what I mean by this...

Last year, I bought my boyfriend a pair of limited edition tan leather Nike Air Force Ones. They cost around £120 and caused me a great deal of stress to obtain. He has worn them one and a half times in the space of a year. (He once wore them only for the duration of a 20 minute train journey from Putney to Waterloo and then, in the middle of Platform 17, suddenly stopped and whipped a pair of 'spare' trainers from his backpack, delicately placing his precious new sneakers back into the safety of the bag, to remain unworn for another six months.) When he does wear them, he walks as though there is a small, evil dwarf behind him, poking a spier up his bottom and driving him barefooted across a plain of broken glass. This is not due to an issue of discomfort, or blistering of the ankles - no, apparently this walking style is 'necessary to prevent creasing of the leather toe'. To me its just an utter embarrassment, and when I see them sitting in his wardrobe, boxed, pristine and untouched, I feel nothing but regret (and longing for the Realisation Par wrap dress I could've bought myself with that money). But to Lewis, this is completely normal and, in fact, fundamental to the upkeep of the (albeit unworn) shoe. That, my friends, is a Sneakerhead.

TOP: Oh Hey Girl Store | JEANS: H&M | SNEAKERS: Size? | FYI: I'm not a Liam Payne fan.

TOP: Oh Hey Girl Store | JEANS: H&M | SNEAKERS: Size? | FYI: I'm not a Liam Payne fan.

You see, the way Sneakerheads treat trainers is akin to the way a jeweller might treat a precious gem. To them, they are fragile, rare, valuable and can be easily tainted when exposed to the elements. They are to be protected, rarely worn outdoors and kept in their original box where they can be left alone to grow in value - and dust mite colonies. These days, sneakers and streetwear are collector's items, taken just as seriously as 1980s Star Wars figurines.

I personally find it rather amusing that I use the Supreme/Coleman folding chair I got Lewis for his 21st as a place to fling my dirty clothes. If he'd had it his way, it would have remained in the packaging as dead-stock (a term resellers use to describe an item which has never left its original packaging, and is therefore more valuable). But I remain opposed to this logic - why buy an item if you can't enjoy it? Or throw your dirty pants on it?

You might detect an undertone of cynicism in my writing, and you'd be correct. It has taken me almost 4 years to understand the concept of spending hundreds of pounds on pairs of shoes that you either cannot wear, or must go out of your way to keep pristine for the sole-purpose of street cred. (A sneaker looses its hype as soon as it looks too 'worn' - ironic, for a shoe.)

So, how did I go from Sneaker-hater to Sneaker-head? Well, It might have something to do with my unhealthy obsession with Danish fashion bloggers, who are the pioneers of pairing clumpy sneakers with high fashion, check out Thora Valdimars. Alternatively, it could've been spurred on by my new favourite (ok, its the only one I watch) Youtube channel: Round Two, The Show, which is essentially reality TV for hypebeasts and hipsters, based around the day-to-day of an LA store that buy, trade and re-sell rare vintage and streetwear pieces to the likes of A$AP Rocky and Lil Yachty. A couple of episodes in, I was hooked. Watching some of the coolest boys in LA create a completely unique and sustainable fashion movement (with a soundtrack including hits by Chubb Rock and K.C. & the Sunshine Band) it's hard not to be. 

In addition to my newfound appreciation for sneakers and streetwear, I've realised that you truly do pay for what you get. The feeling that I got when unboxing my new 95s was just far superior to the unboxing of my usual ASOS £20 white flatforms. I slipped my feet into them and for the first time in my fashion career, I actually felt really cool. The feeling of wearing quality footwear is incomparable. And what's more, they have completely transformed my wardrobe - which is the sign of a truly worthwhile investment. I'm probably going to over-wear them, and they're white, so its inevitable that ruin will come to them at some stage. But for now, I'm relishing in the pretence that I am a fully-fledged Hypebeast and Sneakerhead. Or maybe not, if this article from Complex is anything to go by. (I'm guilty of the last three).

The road to sneaker-hedonism, for me, has been long, confusing, and hard to come to terms with. But now, as a reformed sneaker-sinner, I'm actually (a little too) excited to build my own collection of hype creps. Next on the horizon? A pair of Nike's Classic Cortez 🤘. 

I've been pairing my new creps (that's 'trainers' in youth-speak) with more girly outfits (see my article on Ugly Trainers for styling tips) to balance out the streetwear aesthetic. 

I've been pairing my new creps (that's 'trainers' in youth-speak) with more girly outfits (see my article on Ugly Trainers for styling tips) to balance out the streetwear aesthetic. 

BALENCIAGA ON A BUDGET

How to hone Balenciaga - without the Balenciaga price tag...

Pernille Teisbaek in a wearable Balenciaga-esque lewk (Left) | Balenciaga AW16

Pernille Teisbaek in a wearable Balenciaga-esque lewk (Left) | Balenciaga AW16

Londoners are in a frenzy over the weather. And quite rightly so, for this day last year I was reclining on my rooftop garden with a negroni in hand and a 3rd degree burn forming on my chest. Today, I look out of the window and on the high street beneath me is a sea of umbrellas and miserable old ladies in anoraks. I remain unfazed, however. The current climate reminds me of a distant land I once knew called Scotland, where if it's not mid-July then it is winter. And I'm equally pleased about said deluge, as I have just purchased (for the bargain price of £28) a mother-f**cking-bad-ass electric blue puffer jacket from Topshop which, for a bog-standard month of May, would be much too heavy. But the weather this May has conveniently aligned with my sartorial impulses saving me the 6 month delay until Autumn, or a potential move back to Scotland just to get some wear out of the bloody thing.

The jacket in question is tres Balenciaga AW16, which is a trend I've toyed with the idea of wearing ever since I saw Danish stylist Pernille Teisbaek in a wearable 80s combo straight off the catwalk back in September. I, and several other fashionistas, were at first dubious of the exaggerated silhouettes, shoulder pads and sharp stilettos, but they've since crept into the norm and street style stars like Italy's Chiara Capitani have been seen donning the puffer jacket and stiletto look - thus, the world follows.

In fashion terms, I'm a little late to the Balenciaga AW16 party - understandable, for its a daring trend. But (better late than never) 8 months post-catwalk I have finally decided to slide my pins into a pair of stirrup leggings and drape a puffer jacket off my turtleneck-clad shoulders. Furthermore, having surpassed 'the fear' of wearing such a bold look, I now feel confidently equipped to attempt Balenciaga's SS17 look this summer, which, providing the weather sorts itself out, is right around the corner. (Spoiler alert: the shoulder pads and electric block colours are here to stay).

The purpose of this article is to prevent my readers from experiencing the same sartorial jitters I did, and to prove that big trends such as these aren't just for fashion insiders. I've chosen to focus on two key Balenciaga looks which fashion it-girls are wearing right now, and throughout the course of this year are going become YUGE (that's 'huge' in Trumpspeak) trends for us normals. But what's a poor girl to do without a couple of grand to spend on a coat which is - less face it - far from timeless? I've got you covered. 😏 

 

LOOK 1: AW16

LEGGINGS: H&M | SHOES: Zara | PUFFER JACKET: Topshop

LEGGINGS: H&M | SHOES: Zara | PUFFER JACKET: Topshop

If you're in the market for a high heel this year, make it white leather. High street stores are FINALLY churning out variations of the 80's-style shoe originally re-introduced into the fashion-sphere by Celine 2 years ago - and they're all good. Topshop offer a beautiful mule version, while Zara have given us an all-too-affordable sling-back kitten heel. If you're like me, and stilettos make you look like a 3-year-old trying on mummy's heels (not even heel grips can correct the gawkish slipping and sliding), then Balenciaga have the anecdote: hook a pair of stirrups over the heel! Gucci and Balenciaga have both re-established this once-equestrian look - but Mango have a pair for £49.99 which I much prefer for obvious reasons ($$$).

I managed to wangle my blue puffer from the never-ending closing down sale at Topshop in Putney. Its still available online for £35, but if you're £7 short then you know where to go. If you're attempting the puffer trend, search for something which is vibrant in colour and could be at home on the slopes of Zermatt. This is a look that can easily be translated into your summer wardrobe: replace the puffer with denim, a light bomber, or even a shirt - the key is to hang it off your shoulders (as demonstrated above and here) and keep it oversized. 

 

LOOK 2: SS17

What came first - the Bally or the Balenciaga? | Balenciaga RTW SS17

What came first - the Bally or the Balenciaga? | Balenciaga RTW SS17

The SS17 show was all about block colours, 80s shoulders and vibrant florals. One needn't shed anymore light on the spandex thigh-highs - the Kardashians have already worn them in every colour. Last week's Dior Resort '18 show further hinted that a thigh-high boot that disappears under the skirt is going to be the height of fashion this year and Kendall Jenner confirmed this when she wore an Alexander McQueen variation in her editorial collab with Cole Sprouse in The Sunday Times Style last weekend. I'm yet to find a high-street version of Balenciaga's spandex thigh boots, but Zara have provided us with a gallant pair of fuchsia spandex ankle boots (pictured below) at a fraction of the price, which I would pair with fuchsia tights or leggings to mimic the colour-on-colour Balenciaga look. Block colour opaque tights are available in literally every colour from uktights.com and look great with a heeled sandal - Emili Sindlev has the right idea.

As for the top half, I recently updated an oversized Topshop blazer (similar to the one pictured below) with a pair of shoulder pads found on Ebay for £1.65, and I plan to do the same with my denim jackets. Pair either style with a hoodie and statement earrings for a more casual look, or with the afore-mentioned legging and sock-boot combo for a dressier feel. Immediate wardrobe transformation for the price of a double espresso.

LEGGINGS: Zara | EARRINGS: Topshop | BOOTS: Zara | BLAZER: Zara

LEGGINGS: Zara | EARRINGS: Topshop | BOOTS: Zara | BLAZER: Zara

If you're looking at the outfits I've pulled together and thinking, "Jesus, is this what fashion has come to?" Then the answer is very much yes. And while fashion is undoubtedly in a constant state of flux, at present the more bizarre you look, the better. Balenciaga, in all its structural glory, is top of the charts in fashion terms, but you need not a six-figure salary nor celebrity status to pull it off - you simply need the confidence to wear it...and an eye for a bargain!

You're welcome 😉.