Celebrating the demise of the abominable sneaker wedge

by Ranim Elborai

This weekend, I had the fortune of using one of the nicest ‘public’ toilets in London. The facilities in question were housed in the secret confines of the super-clandestine ultra-exlusive Liberty’s Style Service — a personal shopping service for the department store’s most treasured VIP clientele.

Never mind how I, a lowly window-shopper at best, finagled my way in there, all you need to know is that it involved a pair of enviable Charlotte Olympia suede pumps.

UnknownOn my own Charlotte Olympia wish list: suede Zodiac flats in Libra.

Being a high-end fashion service, the waiting room was stocked the latest copy of Vogue.

“When in Rome,” I thought, and having deposited myself unceremoniously upon a silk pink and beige armchair, I promptly took to flipping through the pages of the magazine.

**In the interests of narrative cohesion, please note that at this point I was all done with using the toilet.**

Back to flipping through January Vogue: being the New Year issue, this edition’s contents included an feature called “Style Reboot,” an advise sheet on which items to keep in your wardrobe for use in the coming months, what to retire or discard (forever) and what items you should be looking to invest in to update your look.

Looks covered in Vogue 2014 Style Reboot: Denim, Florals, Bauhaus, Punk and Sporty. Spanning a measly 2 pages, I felt cheated because the words “Style Reboot” were in a font almost as big as “VOGUE” on the glossy cover page.

But my disappointment was quickly assuaged when I got to the Sporty bullet point, where Vogue readers–all of whom do exactly what the magazine tells them to do without fail and as quickly as possible — were told to LOSE: Wedge Trainers — with a big ‘X’ on a photo of a model in said awful wedge trainers.

“Vindicated at last!” I cackled with glee, waving the magazine at my sister. The personal shopping assistant, realising she had an unhinged patron on her hands, did her best to ignore me as she assisted our friend, the VIP shopper.

I’ve abhorred the sneaker wedge for a while now. This awful trend, which first appeared in 2012, stuck fast all through 2013 despite my repeated attempts to mentally it away.

It seemed like every girl I knew had a pair that she adored and claimed to be comfortable. If I went off on one of my trademark opinionated rants about the damn things, I’m pretty sure I would offend hundreds of readers, tens of acquaintances, and a couple of close friends.a

So I held my tongue.

But now I’m going to release the floodgates and let my criticism gush forth. Because fuck me are those things ugly.

Not only are they ugly, but they are also a shining example of tens of thousands of women falling victim to precepts of fashion despite knowing better, prey to the hive mind of faddism.

Who is to blame for this particular style epidemic?

Who else but high-flying fashion designer Isabel Marant. Her sneaker wedges, available both in a cumbersome velcro strap moon-boot or a still incredibly chunky misshapen lace-up, first fanned the fire.

images-3 images-1

Women everywhere saw their favourite celebrities sporting the hidden wedge and thought, “well lookie here! I can wear these and pretend to be all casual while still sneakily elongating my legs with a hidden heel!”

Very much like the aesthetic that first drove the Ugg boom, some misguided individuals seem to find a certain degree of cartoonish chunkiness appealing.

imagesRemember Mega Man? Well, he may as well be wearing Uggs. Or sneaker wedges for that matter.

Unfortunately, many of these women forget that a carrying a chunky silhouette, even that down low, doesn’t look quite so good if your calves happen to be any less slender than toothpicks. And before you try to argue aesthetic technicalities with me, friend-o, any hope that the hidden wedge’s leg-elongating properties will serve to make one’s calves appear more slender is counteracted by the clunkiness of the sneaker’s silhouette.

Because Marant’s sneakers come along with a monstrous price-tag, fetching somewhere between US $500 – US $800, the trend engendered countless knock-offs. You can get super cheap ones, say from Aldo, for about US $40. Actual sneaker makers have also banked on the craze, with Nike selling their models for around US $200 a pop.

images-1Nike’s sneaker wedge — do you reckon it out-chunks Isabel Marant’s?

It’s been reported that Marant is furious with her imitators. She has been quoted saying, “everybody who has the wrong one looks quite bitchy, very vulgar, when mine are not at all.”

Well, sorry Ms. Marant, but not everyone can afford your ridiculously expensive sneakers.

Some women, despite being able to afford them, may choose to spend their hard-earned money on more lasting fashion items than your faddish sneakers.b

You can’t fault these women for being poor, or sensible, yet still wanting to be fashionable.

Also, news flash, lots of people think your sneakers are tasteless. So please stop being such a heinous bitch.

The thing is, if you want to be sporty, be sporty. Sneakers are meant to convey the concept of comfort and ease. That means that heels should be nowhere near them.

In fact, sticking heels on sneakers has always had disastrous fashion consequences: e.g. 1) the 1990s hideous platform sneaker popularised by the Spice Girls; e.g. 2) that godawful trend in the early Noughtiesc whereby someone decided to stick kitten heels on leather Converse sneakers.

Unknown-1I’m really ashamed to admit that I once had these in black. It was the Noughties. Don’t judge me; I was both young and naive. Just let us never, ever speak of this again.

And, much to my satisfaction and relief, the abominable sneaker wedge is poised to join its infamous predecessors on that list of dated fashion no-no’s.

  1. Ok, maybe like ten readers, who am I kidding.  (back)
  2. In fact they may be spending their money on other important things, like home appliances,  mortgages, or putting it towards their children’s education, etc.  (back)
  3. this is how the British refer to 2000-2009, and because I can’t figure out a better way to describe that era I’ve decided to just go with it.  (back)