When Trainers Went High Fashion

The trainer, or athletic sneaker as some call it, has been a staple of streetwear since the 1980s, and everyone from the city mouse to the country mouse has owned a pair at some point or another for the singular reason that they look cool. While the trainer technically exists to assist in athletic performance, athletic shoe sales around the world are exceedingly high due to reasons that have nothing to do with playing sports or exercising. The shoes are so popular that Americans spent over $6 billion on running shoes alone in 2012.

Does anyone really think all those shoes were used for running? Instead, the reality is that the trainer is a fashion statement, and has been one for over three decades. Interestingly, haute couture — that land where fashion meets art and dizzy excess — had once seemed impervious to the trainer’s charms, and as such, the world’s finest runways long avoided requiring their models and fashionistas to bend down and lace up a pair.

However, all that has changed recently as trainers were finally embraced by high fashion. From Chanel to Givenchy, here are a handful of design houses that turned to the bedrock of streetwear to define this season’s look.

1. Chanel

Chanel’s spring fashion show this past year was couture at its finest. The show was a world unto itself, where white and light competed for attention. Forests and glaciers met a visionary apocalypse that saw spry, airy models jaunting and skipping without the seriousness that couture so often requires. Corsets, midriff-revealing blouses, and skirts were presented with an energy that made them appear almost like athletic wear, which may be why the design house chose Massaro to make custom couture trainers for each outfit.

Made out of snake, lace, pearls, and tweed, the trainers were a perfect fit for the collection, which resembled something like streetwear from a wintry planet. Models also wore elbow pads and knee pads, which added to the vibe that action was taking place. The trainers cost nearly $4,100, which in the realm of fashionable, high-priced sneakers makes these Massaros even more desirable. Unfortunately, until a ready-to-wear version is available, you’ll have to buy the whole couture ensemble in order to get your feet inside these stunning kicks.

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