The rise of turbo trainers is just another continuation of the ever-growing trend for loungewear, casual wear and more street-luxe styles featured by the biggest fashion brands and designers like Demna Gvasalia. Street style is now not only worn by hood gangs and wannabe rappers but also marketed as a slick, classy product that is invariably as tongue-in-cheek as it is stylish. Who remembers Supreme’s bizarre brick that fetched ridiculous prices on eBay as soon as it sold out online?
Brands like Supreme and Balenciaga are using streetwear as an expression of the cultural mindset towards clothes where comfort has become paramount in our endlessly hectic lives. The comic bougie appeal of wearing the same flat cap or hoodie worn by a rapper ten years ago appeals to a generation that is no longer interested in being taken seriously, and who see the type of clothes they wear as an act of defiance through the 90’s homage they represent.
The ‘turbo’ trainer is just that- a hyped up, overloaded 90’s monster of a shoe that is light-years away from the streamlined, discreet curves of your favourite Nike flyknit trainers. These are trainers with soles the size of small tyres, textures from a typical mountain shoe and ageing white rubber that make you think of different hybrid components of trainers that you have worn over the years. These are definitely the ugliest shoes in the world- there is no doubt about it. But really, that is the whole point. These turbo trainers were not created to be functional first, although they are certainly comfy and many Instagram buyers swear that they are the best shoes they own. They are not visually appealing or particularly stylish in the most traditional sense of the word, but they do deliver on a wild combination of styles, textures and colours that echoes the seemingly mismatched outfits of fashion street style outside catwalks at different fashion week collections around the world. They are the negation of traditional ideas of fashion and style, which makes them new and interesting, exactly what future trends should be.
Most importantly, these shoes are completely satirical- they are not there to be stylish, or slick, or even particularly pretty. They are the test of how far a high-end fashion company like Balenciaga can go with ‘de-fashionizing’ their products before consumers call them out on it and demand more accountability for what they expect from a high-fashion brand. But with the rise of street style in high fashion collections, there is a very real chance that no consumers would see it as an attack of what they know, instead of making them question- what is fashion in the 21st century?
This article was originally published in The Courier Newcastle.