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Why do some formal shoes have sneaker soles?

Behind the appearance of the "sneafers" hide perhaps generational reasons

Why do some formal shoes have sneaker soles? Behind the appearance of the sneafers hide perhaps generational reasons

Since the beginning of 2020, a new trend has been highlighted that has seen the downsizing of the streetwear phenomenon in favor of a return of a formal and sartorial aesthetic but with more imaginative and relaxed tones. At the heart of this buoy tour were the sneakers, the main vector of the soaring streetwear, which in the 2020 collections have returned to be more discreet, minimal and, above all, less present on the catwalks. In recent years a product, in particular, has begun to appear, which in a previous article, nss magazine had defined "sneafers", half sneaker and half loafer – a type of hybrid footwear difficult to place that on the one hand takes advantage of the classic leather formal shoe while on the other it enriches it with the volumes and silhouettes of a sneaker sole. The appearance of these shoes occurred from time to time in the past (two possible examples are the Derby Shoe Black/Camouflage of the FW13 by Dries Van Noten or the Lace-Up Boot of the FW16 of Undercover) but in the last two years, these have appeared with increasing frequency produced mainly by Prada, Alyx and Maison Margiela but also by Rick Owens, Louis Vuitton, Raf Simons, Thom Browne, Jil Sander and Com. The latest incarnation of the trend is Versace's Black BDSM Straps Leather Derby Shoes, but it won't be the last.  

The reasons for the frequent appearances of these "sneafers" are partly the same ones that hide behind the recent return of the formal shoe trend. Although the streetwear phenomenon has exploded through social media over the last ten years, in fact, the platform that has decreed its success has been that large audience of teenagers that since the 80s has made sneaker a cultural and generational symbol. Before the very concept of hype existed, there was a large, organic audience of young people who spread and consolidated the myth of sneakers. In 2020, the members of that audience are no longer so young, those who were fifteen years old at the exit of the first Air Jordan 1 hour is fifty and probably has been working for twenty years to support a family. The tastes of that original audience, in short, have begun to move towards more formal solutions and the relegation of the streetwear phenomenon (defined several times by industry insiders as a "bubble") has brought the formal shoe back to the attention of the public. But sneakers, as well as remaining a staple of world menswear, have nevertheless left a deep mark on the culture.

"There’s just too much stuff and all of it’s mediocre. There are new collabs every single fucking day from people that shouldn’t be working together. This shit is impossible to buy at retail, and the resale prices are out of control. You’ve got all these kids thinking they’re door-to-door jawns salesmen. The whole game got bastardized. We’ve been lucky enough to have had other types of footwear in our lifetime. One, we’ve aged out of this shit — we’re in our thirties — and two, we also came from a time when sneakers and streetwear wasn’t the end-all, be-all of acceptable cool things. We already have that collection of boots, Wallabees, and loafers; I think the bigger issue, and why James and I are pushing this narrative, is because we want to bring a younger generation into that post-sneaker world with us". 

It could then be assumed that designers such as John Galliano, Miuccia Prada, Matthew Williams, Rick Owens or Jun Takahashi tried to find with the "sneafers" a compromise solution: on the one hand rejuvenate the codes of the formal shoe with the tech and subversive elements of the sneakers, on the other hand, get out of that forced youthism to which the omnipresence of sneakers forced them. It is well known how problematic the symbiosis between fashion and youth is in many respects, not least commercial ones. The "sneafer" can then become if not a real trend that helps to bring the collective culture of fashion closer to overcoming the concept of sneakers as we know it.