6 Teens On Their Must-Have Shoes & Celebs Who Inspire Them

In an era defined by social media, buzzy celebrity endorsements and fads that fizzle as fast as they emerge, today’s teens have a lot to keep up with.

But they wouldn’t have it any other way.

To tap into the minds of this highly sought-after and dynamic consumer base, Footwear News recently spoke with six New York-based teens for a revealing roundtable discussion. From celebrity inspiration to budgets and favorite brands, this bunch had plenty to talk about.

And while the teens continue to find exciting new ways to express themselves with current fashion offerings, they had some strong opinions on how the industry could step things up.

“I wish brands would stop [simply] putting a celebrity’s name on a pair of shoes and then raising the price,” said Hrishikesh Bardhan, a 17-year-old high school junior.

“Some kids at my school own certain shoes just to own them — but it’s just plain overrated. You’re buying the shoe for the [celebrity’s] name and for the socioeconomic [status] behind it. It’s no longer about quality.”

Here, the teens give their take on today’s fashion landscape.

Leila Roker, 17

Personal style “It varies from day to day. Some weeks, I’ll wear a lot of skirts; other weeks, I’ll wear tomboyish styles and pants. My style is fluid. Sometimes I like to be girly, and other times I like to be edgier.”

Leila Roker
Leila Roker.
CREDIT: Thomas Iannaccone.

Everyday shoes “Asos sandals because they’re affordable and last long. I wear a lot of heels because I’m 5-foot-3. I like Jeffrey Campbell and Giuseppe Zanotti, and I used to get a lot of Steve Madden heels. When I wear sneakers, I usually wear Nike Free Runs.”

Shoe budget “My mom says, ‘If I can teach you one thing [about fashion], your shoes always have to be nice.’

“Cheap shoes are the worst because they will mess up your feet, they fall apart and you actually end up spending more money. Everyday sneakers are $60, and really nice shoes cost between $250 and $300.”

Coolest collaboration “The Puma by Rihanna collection. I’m obsessed with it. It’s punky without trying to be punky.”

Most stylish celebrities “I love Rihanna. I also like Kylie and Kendall Jenner’s look. I like how Kylie wears leggings with big tops and Kendall wears boyfriend jeans with nice tops.”

What’s missing from fashion “There needs to be a different kind of shoe — I’m sick of wearing the same shoes. I was at a party [recently] and noticed that everyone had on the same shoes: black boots.”

Favorite social media app Snapchat


Hrishikesh Bardhan, 17

Personal style “I’m very influenced by the 1970s — looking less toward the contemporary cuts and more toward what the rock ’n’ roll era had to offer. Black jeans, boots, loose-fitting T-shirts and jewelry are all elements of my style. For shoes, I usually wear leather boots like Chelsea boots, or leather sneakers that can be scuffed and distressed over time.”

Fashion budget “It varies a lot because when I go shopping, I’m looking for specific things. If I find a shoe or T-shirts I like from a specific store, I’ll buy those. It’s more about scouting beforehand [as opposed to] spontaneously buying.”

Most stylish celebrities “I take cues from rock ’n’ roll icons from the late 1960s to 1970s because their lifestyles intrigue me. I often look to people like Keith Richards, Jim Morrison and Roger Daltrey. Icons such as Steve McQueen, with that rough biker look, are also quite influential.”

What’s missing from fashion “[I wish] companies would focus less on parading their labels [with celebrity collaborations] and put more emphasis on simpler collections. Fashion puts a lot of [pressure] on money and people’s socioeconomic status. That seems shallow to me.”

Favorite social media app Snapchat



Megan Job, 16

Personal style “I’m laid-back. I have a lot of thrift clothes — but they don’t look like thrift clothes. I wear a lot of crop tops and baggy pants. I’m tall — I’m 5-foot-9 — so it’s hard for me to find jeans that fit.”

Megan Job
Megan Job.
CREDIT: Thomas Iannaccone.

Everyday shoes “I wear the same boots every single day. They’re black Chelsea boots from Urban Outfitters. They go with everything and are easy to throw on. They’re comfortable, which is [perfect] because I’m always running around the city. When spring comes, I’ll get my toes done nicely and wear sandals. I wear Birkenstocks a lot.”

Shoe budget “Some days, my parents are really generous and my mom will pick up a $200 pair of boots for me. But [other] days, she will say no to an $80 pair. It depends on her mood and what else is going on — like if I have a job at the time.”

Most stylish celebrities “Zooey Deschanel from ‘New Girl.’ I love her style — it’s very laid-back, but at the same time you can tell she puts a lot of thought into each outfit. It’s a cute, simple, chic style.”

What’s missing from fashion “Boho needs to come back. Maybe it will come back for the summer. It’s very laid-back but nice at the same time.”

Favorite social media app Instagram


Ardelia Lovelace, 17

Personal style “It changes all the time. I skateboard, so I do a lot of boyish looks. I’ll wear baggy pants, but [I’ll wear them] with a crop top so I still look like a girl. Other days, I’ll put on nice slacks. It depends on how I feel.”

Everyday shoes “Stan Smiths are popular right now. They’re super-comfortable. I’m walking all the time, and although my Converse are cool and they look nice, Stan Smiths are really cushioned, so I wear them almost every day. I also [wear] SBs by Nike. Sandals are my summer go-to shoes.”

Shoe budget “If I’m going somewhere really nice, my parents will say, ‘OK, we understand’ — but they probably won’t spend more than $250. For prom, we’ll go a little higher than that. An everyday pair is $150 max.”

Coolest collaborations “I like Drake’s OVO line. I loved his collaboration with Canada Goose, and his Jordan collaboration wasn’t bad. I’m not into Jordans, but those were cool.”

Most stylish celebrities “Solange [Knowles] is first on my list. [Stylist] June Ambrose and [music video director] Melina Matsoukas are also pretty good. Solange has the right mix of fashion and style with the right amount of open-spiritedness. June puts a lot of patterns together and wears ostentatious hats and glasses. Melina is also laid-back but girly.”

What’s missing from fashion “Color. There is not enough color variation. When there is color variation, it’s expensive.”

Favorite social media app Instagram


Reginald Narcisse, 16

Personal style “I’m into streetwear. I like the low-key Supreme [styles], but I also wear slacks a lot. I like to mix the two.”

Shoe budget  “My parents fund my purchases, and they’re somewhat generous when it comes to price. But if I presented a $1,200 pair of shoes, they would probably say no. It depends on the brand. I sometimes get really consumed by the hype when it comes to new releases.”

Reginald Narcisse
Reginald Narcisse.
CREDIT: Thomas Iannaccone.

Coolest collaborations “My favorite thing is when high-end brands or even streetwear brands collaborate with [everyday] or mainstream brands like Adidas. I like the Adidas x Raf Simons Stan Smiths and Nike x Riccardo Tisci Air Force Ones.”

Most stylish celebrities “Travis Scott’s style is very edgy and cool. [He wears] coveted Raf Simons pieces. Young Thug is also breaking barriers [by wearing] female clothing.”

What’s missing from fashion “So many new designers try to copy Raf Simons, and it gets me so angry. [New designers] need to find their originality and stop trying to copy brands like Supreme. If you’re copying, your brand is not going to last.

Last spring, there were a lot of pink and peach [colors in clothing and shoes], and I hope that comes back.”

Favorite social media apps Instagram and Snapchat


Pushan Bardhan, 15

Personal style “Comfortable and current. I wear a lot of Nike sneakers and sweatpants.”

Shoe budget “I [typically] spend about $100 on shoes. I like Jordans, and they usually cost [between] $150 and $200. I’d say $1,000 is too much to spend on shoes.”

Most stylish celebrities “I don’t look at celebrities for what to wear. I look at what people around me — people I relate to, like my friends at school — are wearing. But I think Drake and LeBron James have great style.”

What’s missing from fashion “[Generally], I feel I have a lot of choices when it comes to fashion. But companies could create more designs and colors for shoes — they use the same designs over and over. Also, they could make shoes less expensive.”

Favorite social media app Snapchat

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