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Lanvin sneakers and how the fashion industry destroyed skate culture

From Lucien Clarke to Evan Mock, the story of the latest cultural appropriation by the fashion system

Lanvin sneakers and how the fashion industry destroyed skate culture From Lucien Clarke to Evan Mock, the story of the latest cultural appropriation by the fashion system

If there is anyone who in 2020 dictated trends and fashions by dint of posts on social media, that someone is definitely Travis Scott. Over the course of the year that has just ended, La Flame has acted as a thermometer of sneaker culture, contributing not only thanks to its collaborations with Nike but also simply by wearing any pair of sneakers destined to become unobtainable in a few hours. If in the beginning there were the Dunk, protagonists of a real rebirth at Nike, one of the last cases passed at Scott's feet is that of the Lanvin, the ultra-chunky skate sneakers launched by the brand directed by Bruno Sialelli at the beginning of the year. Sialelli, 31-year-old of French origin and former Loewe designer, found his role as creative director only after a long and complicated path for Lanvin, which after the departure of Alber Elbaz saw the succession of five creative directors in less than five years. A confusional state that saw the simplest way as the final solution, choosing to speak to the younger generations with a young creative director

The exaggerated silhouette and prominent laces are just two of the characteristics of a sneaker that visibly winks at the skater aesthetic of the early 2000s when brands like Etnies and DC were the absolute masters of the scene well before the advent of the Osiris D3s. Given the absence of a well-rooted skater culture in Italy, at the time old school chunky sneakers had become synonymous and symbol of a rave subculture and social centres between the 90s and the 2000s. History divides in the States United, which has seen a growing movement since the seventies thanks to personalities such as Stacy Peralta and Tony Alva, until its pop explosion in the 90s with Tony Hawk. A bond made even stronger by another testimonial of excellence such as Evan Mock, actor but above all skater chosen by Lanvin as the face of the Curb sneaker campaign. A story that tells once again the immoderate passion of the fashion world for the skater culture, passed from the status of a subculture and true cornerstone of the fashion system. There is not only the now consolidated success of brands like Palace, Supreme and Noah, but also the recent collaboration between Dior and Shawn Stüssy and the choice made by Alessandro Michele, who had chosen the queer skate collective Unity for a Gucci campaign. 

Although for some the rise of Lanvin sneakers could represent the final nail on the coffin of the credibility of sneaker culture, sold off and now impure, those launched by Sialelli are just one of the many results of that complex relationship that has seen its true point of failure in the choice of Lucien Clarke as Louis Vuitton testimonial, starting from the first Virgil Abloh fashion show up to his sneakers with the French Maison. Clarke is certainly not the first skater to also become a model, but he was probably the first to do what not even Lanvin dared to do: take skating off the street and take it to the catwalk, but above all take it away from its popular nature and turn it into a sneaker costing 800€.

If the echo of the 2000s with its confused and immature style lives in an evocative way in Lanvin sneakers, the real short circuit is to be found where culture becomes mainly appearance by taking without giving anything back in return. A process that has seen in recent times a high illustrious protagonist such as gorpcore, cannibalized by the fashion system and regurgitated in the form of a collaboration between The North Face and Gucci, and which inevitably leads us to ask ourselves the real meaning of a skate sneaker that no one is would use to skate. If Sialelli spoke of his creature as the best way to represent and understand the skaters told by Hugh Holland, the real suspicion is that never as in this case has fashion loved to repeat itself becoming an ambassador of modern times. Take it or leave it.