[Written By: Ruarí MacManus]
So just over a month ago Complex released what they thought would be just another episode of their popular YouTube series, “Sneaker Shopping with Complex”. Little did they know that this show would spawn the most quotable meme in recent memory. The premise of the show is simple; the aptly named Joe La Puma shows celebrities around high-end trainer stores, discusses their fame, strokes their ego a bit and then they flex their wallets on exclusive kicks. This episode features model and socialite Bella Hadid, in New York’s KITH — owned by sneaker savant Ronnie Fieg. So far nothing out of the ordinary — but then she opened her mouth. Hadid proceeded to utter a stream of nauseatingly forced slang terms, which she had probably been practicing in front of her mirror for hours prior. The phrase that launched a thousand memes, that rings in my ears and haunts my nightmares is probably best given in context first:
“If homeboy is coming through with these, [Hadid picks up what seems to be Nike Air Woven Premium, a justifiably ugly shoe] it’s quiet for him. But if he comes through in, like these [this time she grabs some Air Max 95s — big up them boys there] homeboy gone like… get it”
So there we have it, “homeboy gone like… get it.”. First off I just want to put it out there, she uses ‘homeboy’ not once, but twice. This is inexcusable. Second, this is obviously a ridiculous string of words, especially from someone who had to move the silver spoon from her mouth to say them. But to her merit she does also explain that trainers don’t necessarily have to be sparkling clean to be on point — some styles are just better than others. However, at the end of the day what a guy wears on his feet is a big deal to Bella. This got me thinking of the relevance of trainers in today’s streetwear-savvy society.
There has been a renaissance in high-end trainers and showing your originality through what’s on your feet is one of the most legitimate ways to do so. Since the streetwear revival, brought around by the likes of Astrid Andersen and Nazir Mazhar, trainers have become a staple in high end fashion. By getting your models to wear trainers on the runway it makes fashion more relatable, makes the look more attainable, and moves the outfits from the runway to the everyday. In 2015, at the first ever male only New York Fashion Week, John Elliot included a selection of cult classic Nike silhouettes into his well orchestrated Spring/Summer ’16 preview. The addition of Air Max 95s, 93s and my personal favourites 180s, among others, complemented the entirety of the line that had obvious sport and military influences, highlighting an element of comfort.
But since then, ‘sneaker culture’ has continued to develop and flourish, with designers creating their own functional yet fashionable pieces of foot candy. Currently Virgil Abloh is leading the charge via his Milan based brand ‘Off-White’, collaborating with Nike to produce the hypebeast collection of the year, in the form of ‘The Ten’. This collection consists of (unsurprisingly) ten iconic Nike sneakers reimagined by the DJ-cum-designer, including the Jordan I (worn by Bella Hadid in the aforementioned YouTube show), Hyperdunk 2017, Air Max 97 and more. Abloh’s work isn’t the first example of high-end street-ready trainers, Kanye has his Yeezys, both with Nike and now adidas. Other examples are the recent Balenciaga’s Triple S and of course the monstrosities Jeremy Scott produced with adidas for years (who actually wants a teddy-bear on their shoes? Did anyone in the real world buy them, or was it just Dr. Seuss characters?).
This rise in interest shows that trainers aren’t just something to play sport in or to provide comfort for a long day on your feet, they are vital to an aesthetic in today’s mode. I personally plan my outfit around what trainers I want to wear and it is for sure the first thing I look at when I meet someone. I think maybe Bella Hadid is taking it a bit too far when she talks about whether or not “homeboy gone like get it” based on what he is wearing in his feet. But then again would it be surprising if a 21 year old model was so vain and vapid in what drew her to a partner? Probably not. Essentially, I feel there is substance to what she said, albeit with an ounce of hyperbole. Nowadays there is a lot more emphasis or even importance placed on what is on your feet, and I’m on board with that.