High-heeled Sneakers on the Rebound


Written by Kinsey Sullivan
07 Wednesday 07th March 2012

Though notably devoid of the stilletto shape popularized by Converse in the late nineties, 2012 has seen a resurgence in the style. The look is cropping up everywhere, from accessible outlets like ASOS and ALDO to luxury designers like Chloé and Isabel Marant. Sneaker heels even made the homepage image for up-and-coming footwear brand Ash (see above). We’re not quite sure what to think. While jeggings’ blend of comfort and legitimacy managed borderline social acceptability, we’re not convinced that sneakers-as-heels can do the same. 

They've got velcro, they've got platforms, they've got studs. For $200 plus shipping, these Ash wedges can be yours.

The main question with sneaker heels is simple: why? Even dressed up in metallics, straps, and suede, sneaker heels seem pointless. The purpose of sneakers versus heels are totally at odds, and in this case, the combination doesn’t enhance either. The sneaker heel is a mash-up that happened because it could. Heels were created, in part, to tap into men’s instincts and make women appear more attractive to them. Although the style was popular among men, especially in 17th century France, in recent years they've been designed almost exclusively for women.They sexualize the female form, and it's been argued that they make women both encumbered and submissive. The clash of those theories with the practicality of the sneaker makes the combination both engaging and jarring.

Sneakers aren't a particularly elegant or flattering style, though some women do look good in them. That being said, elegant and flattering aren’t always the goal of self-styling. When they’re not, the effect of the sneaker heel is striking. Its high/low, urban aesthetic can be really compelling. These days, they're still a relatively rare look, and the wearer is advertising a desire to experiment, an attention to trends and a dedication to individuality. That we haven’t yet seen the style done well doesn’t mean it can’t be.  

One of the last considerations is that the sneaker heel is a decidedly difficult combination to work with. In 2011, Nicki Minaj wore a pair of £365 Guiseppe Zanotti metallic wedges while performing, and the shoes looked perfect. That's partially because they were part of a costume that included aluminum foil pants, and in that context, anything goes. For daily wear, they've got to be matched with just the right skirt or just the right pants, or the whole look crumbles. While Kate Moss might be able to work baggy, lightwash jeans with the Zanotti heels, not many can. Plenty of people are trying though. Zanotti’s almost £500 suede and leather sneaker wedges were sold out, as was DKNY’s £190 Heath sneaker.

If you’re interested in braving this tricky trend, here’s a round-up of some options:

H&M's neon sneakers, £19, also available in white

ASOS ARK leather wedge ankle boot, £85

See by Chloé sneaker-style ankle boots, £310

Rad or bad? We want to know what you think! Post comments, questions and revelations below. 

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  • Guest: mail
    Thu 15 - Mar - 2012, 09:42
    Coming in 2013: high-heeled running shoes.