This one unusual breed of shoe is not only taking over New York City and other fashion capitals of the world, but it’s also consuming our Instagram feed.
And the breed of shoe we speak of is the sock sneaker – the yoga pants of sneakers.
This minimal and stretchy style knit originated with big athletic brands but it’s the luxury labels that have eagerly taken up the concept and have finally made it a full on trend.
And it’s Balenciaga that has taken the trend by storm with their Speed Trainers which can cost anywhere from $595 – $695, depending on the version.
These sneakers have become so popular that even fast-fashion chains like Zara have taken it upon themselves to introduce a pair that looks identical to the Balenciaga sneaker, except these babies retail for just around $70.
Brian Trunzo, senior menswear editor at WGSN, a trend forecasting and analytics agency, notes:
“Just from taking a glance at the market, I would have to use the word ‘tremendous’ to describe it.”
And they appear to be selling very well.
Trunzo also says:
“It’s undeniable how comfortable they are. It’s really not like anything else.”
The sock sneaker is too perfect for the moment as all things athletic continue to have such a major influence on clothing.
Katie Smith, senior retail analyst at Edited, a retail technology firm, says:
“Sock sneakers have the athleisure market to thank for their increasing popularity.”
It was sports brands Nike and Adidas that created the concept, years ago.
Nike experimented for decades, with:
- the Bermuda (in 1979)
- the Sock Racer (in 1985)
- the Presto (in 2000)
- and the Sock Dart (in 2004)
But it was the launch of Flyknit in 2012 that essentially started the knit sneakers era.
While Nike introduced the Flyknit as a performance product for running, it was the look that allowed the product to take off.
Viktor Ekblom, a stylist and product manager at fashionable Swedish retailer Très Bien, told Complex:
“The design was something completely new with the innovative knit structure and original colorways being appealing to the masses. I think that Nike realized the potential of the style outside of the sports arenas pretty quickly and started to focus a lot of resources in that direction.”
And while the first Flyknit didn’t exactly have a sock-like look, in the same year, Nike debuted the Roshe sneaker, which had minimal vibe that consisted of a mesh upper and a plush sole.
Adidas also put its own knit out, Primeknit, as well as a collaboration with designer Yohji Yamamoto, Y-3.
And Adidas managed to stay on top of the trend as several of its most popular new shoes are knit sneakers, which includes:
- the NMD
- the Tubular
- and the Yeezy 350
Trunzo notes that it was the high-fashion houses that really lagged on the trend, but within the last year, they all seemed to have picked up on the trend.
“They arrived online in December 2016, opening the floodgates to other collections.”
And points to examples from Marni and DKNY.
Smith also notes that while designers like Rick Owens have incorporated the sock design into their lines there are designers, like Fendi, who have full on embraced the look.