After hitting the jackpot with the Triple S sneaker and launching the Track trainer last month in the U.S., it was difficult to imagine what Balenciaga artistic director Demna Gvasalia would follow up with for spring ’19, athletically speaking.
He didn’t. The designer showed not a single sneaker at the brand’s Sept. 30 runway show in Paris. Instead, Gvasalia put forth a series of death-defying metal stiletto pumps with oversized buckles and basic, black men’s dress shoes.
Balenciaga’s no-sneaker statement echoed that of the majority of brands in all four cities. “There was a concerted effort among the design community to step back from streetwear and present more dressed-up clothing,” said Ken Downing, fashion director and SVP of Neiman Marcus. “It started in New York and continued into London. Milan had a few sneaker moments, but there was nary a sneaker in Paris. It has been noted.”
They may have been absent from the runways, but that doesn’t mean they are becoming less important at retail. “Sneakers have become an essential part of most collections,” said Alberto Oliveros, GMM at Level Shoes in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. “The growth of sneakers is complemented by the shift from high stilettos and sandals to flats, medium heels and designer sneakers. This new era of ‘comfortable luxury’ is just getting started.”
The season wasn’t completely devoid of athletic footwear. Nike continued its partnerships with Off-White and Comme des Garçons in a track shoe at the former and a Shox style with logo chain lace locks at the latter.
Aquazzura’s Edgardo Osorio also introduced a sneaker inspired by ’70s running shoes — its slim silhouette a welcome palate cleanser to the bulky dad shoe. “They are too much,” he said of the trend. “You see all these women running around in them, and they look like they’re skating. It’s fashion victim.”
Downing pointed to the prevalence of flat sandals as spring’s replacement trend.
“It’s a sporty idea. It goes with a longer hemline, a bike short or a longer cropped pant,” he said.