A Haute Couture Show held by the late Kate Lagerfeld was staged by Chanel on 2014 in a fictional venue called “Cambon Club.” The models, led by Carla Delevigne, glided through a grand staircase donned in creations made from bejewelled fabric. It was as haute couture as it can get. But there was a big change in this show as the models completed their look with bespoke sneakers that took almost 30 hours to make, each pair costing around 3,000 Euros. The footwear received quite a number of criticisms, but it symbolized a very essential feat. 

Trainers are no longer the kind to be relegated to the sidelines when choosing for office wears and party outfit as there are now luxury pairs approved by Chanel.

Since the controversial Haute Couture show, the popularity of trainers only peaked. Clumpier and crazier designs are being released, and they have become more costly over time. In the last quarter of 2018, trainers dominated the top 10 most searched fashion item. Sports brands saw the fashion potential of trainers first, but luxury brands quickly followed suit. Now, Chanel is at the forefront of this trend.

Gigi Hadid and Hailey Beiber, prominent Intagram influencers, are seen sporting their clumpy trainers with almost about any outfit. Among those that they usually wear are from Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton and cost around £600 – £1,000 a pair. Professional tennis player Serena Williams was also seen wearing sneakers to a royal wedding after-party, and even wore one during her own. Dress codes have shifted to exude a more relaxed feel, allowing more opportunity for trainers to flourish in the workplace as a staple fashion piece. This is does not only connote a shift in the fashion industry, but more so a bigger shift in the portrayal of women in the workplace.

Sexism and power struggle

The concept of women being compelled to wear high-heeled shoes in the office has always been regarded as a feminist and discriminatory idea. With the increased recognition for trainers, the workplace has indeed become more inclusive. However, it’s still not goodbye for high heels. Author Summer Brennan believes that certain situations still call for high heels like courtrooms, award shows, and magazine covers. 

There are still industries that require their women employees to wear high heels. In some countries, the petition to amend laws on wearing high heels to work remains to be approved. Some celebrities are also rising up against this feminist view by showing up in red carpet occasions wearing bejewelled flats and at one instance, barefooted.

The historical context of high heels

Originally, high heels were worn by men for horse riding. It was introduced by Asians to the Europeans in the late 16th century. The heels were openly embraced by men because it was associated with Persian military. It was only later that the women and children adopted this style.

A trend or a staple?

Some fashion experts have diverse opinion on how long the trainer trend will last. Some say it is already a declining craze as some recent fashion shows did not include this style in their collection. Still some believe that this style is here to stay because it encourages comfort and functionality. 

BBC Culture believes that our choice of shoes should be free from gender expectations. One must choose footwear based on their personal needs and interests, and not on social norms.