Sneakers are a popular choice for shoes all worldwide, and this is true no matter where you are on your fashion journey. But how did sneakers become such an important part of men’s clothing today? Ridhiman Das conducts his research on how sneaker style became a big part of mainstream fashion. Let’s dive into it!
Why did men start to wear sneakers?
Even though there isn’t a clear history of how sneakers came to be and why they’re so popular, after a lot of digging on the web, there are eight reasons I found as to why sneakers are doing so well.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but the main reason why sneakers have become more popular in recent years is because they are great for sports.
Since there has been a rise in physical fitness since the 1980s, it’s no surprise that sneakers are becoming more and more popular.
Even though there are some great pictures from the past of men doing sports while wearing classic clothes, it’s clear that things have changed, and I would argue for the better.
For instance, modern sports like football use shoes called cleats that are made to help athletes do their best. If you ask me, it would be hard to run fast on the football field while wearing Oxfords.
Modern athletic shoes are lighter and better for athletic performance because of changes to their design. Hence, sneakers are a type of shoe that has been improved and redesigned over the years to become what they are today: a pair of shoes that are made to be reliable for sports.
Simply put, sneakers are designed to be comfortable. Unlike a leather dress shoe, a sneaker is made to be as flexible and comfortable as possible. I mean, could you really start a race on a track while wearing shoes with Goodyear welts?
Sneakers are made to be flexible, and their weight is also taken into account, so they are usually much lighter than dress shoes. If the shoe is lighter and has a wider range of motion, it will be more comfortable and take less time to break in than a typical pair of dress shoes.
Because of these things, sneakers are not only a good choice but also a necessary one for people with health problems who can’t wear regular dress shoes. A pair of sneakers will make you feel more comfortable than a regular pair of dress shoes.
Another factor is that most sneakers are made with soft, spongy, open-weave fabrics that let air pass through. I should say that not all sneakers fit into this category. Those with a more open weave will breathe better, but if you buy a cheap pair of crappy sneakers, they won’t breathe better than a nice pair of leather dress shoes.
Since function and comfort are at the top of the list, the third one, fashion, is pretty clear.
Fashion changes all the time, as we can see by looking at the past. The classic two-piece suit grew out of the sack suit, which grew out of the morning suit, which grew out of the frock coat, and so on. As sneakers have changed in how they are made and how they are used, so has their design. Some of the most famous sneaker models, like the Stan Smith, the Air Jordan, and the Common Project Achilles, have had their designs copied.
Since styles come and go, it’s only natural that sneakers would become popular shoes at some point, as they’re not that different from other shoe styles throughout history, like mediaeval shoes with points or a pair of elegant Oxfords.
Increase in formality
One of the brands I just mentioned is known for giving the classic sneaker a smart and put-together look. I am talking about the Common Projects and their Achilles model, of course. The Achilles and other brands that copy its design have become popular in both streetwear and classic menswear.
Common Projects isn’t the only brand pushing for a more classic and well-designed sneaker. Many other brands have jumped into the market to take advantage of what Common Projects has done. Also, the Common Projects Achilles costs almost $500, but there are a lot of other great options that cost a lot less.
Overall, the dress sneaker is getting more and more popular and can be worn with many different outfits. Dress sneakers might be the right choice for you, whether you want to try to dress them up, which we don’t recommend, or you want a great casual option for the office.
Pressure from other people
Simply put, people wear sneakers because they are afraid of being left out, or FOMO. Since formal clothes and classic dress shoes are usually only worn to formal events, it can be hard to wear them without being judged.
People have a pack mentality, and it’s in our nature to want to get rid of something that doesn’t fit in. Everyone wants to fit in, so it’s easy to see why people are ditching more formal shoes for more casual ones. The result is an unfortunate divide that makes it seem like a classic pair of dress shoes is a hundred times fancier than a sneaker.
In the end, it’s nice to know that if everyone else is wearing sneakers, you won’t be laughed at or feel left out if you do too. But, regardless of the type of shoe you want to wear, if you don’t feel like you belong, our sneakers guide can help.
Due to the fact that sneakers are a fashion item, status also plays a role. Whether it’s a limited-edition designer model, a collaboration between brands, or a good old-fashioned limited run, having the right pair of sneakers gives you a certain level of coolness. Even brands with a long history are making simple sneakers now. I mean, they’re made by John Lobb now! Whether we buy them or not is a totally different story, but they are a pretty cool footwear option for men.
Usually, I talk about things like this when I’m talking about luxury watches. Take the Rolex brand as an example. I’m sure that most people on the street have heard of Rolex. But these days, it’s less about how good the watch is and more about what it says about your social status. After all, everyone knows what you mean when you say you have a Rolex. Today, sneakers can be a status symbol in the same way that a watch can.
Take the famous white, red, and black colorway of the Nike Air Jordan One Chicago as an example. If you can’t get these popular shoes at the regular price, you’ll have to pay a lot more. No matter how they look, if you have a pair of sneakers that other people want, you have a status flex.
Quoting Steve Jobs’ famous quote, “There are sneakers that cost more than an iPod.” Indeed, there are sneakers that cost around as much as a motorcycle, but they can equally be available for as little as a few bucks and still look good!
When compared to making a pair of handmade dress shoes, it’s not surprising that most sneakers can be made quickly and cheaply. It’s easy to make a pair of sneakers with cheaper materials and a simpler process. This could mean a few things.
First, they can be sold at a price that is much lower than the suggested retail price of classic dress shoes. Second, status symbol sneakers can be made cheaply but sold for a lot of money. So, the brand’s profit margin will go up. Also, it’s easy to make cheap copies of famous designs to sell to people who can’t afford the originals.
Sneakers are a great product for most stores to sell because most people think they are good shoes and want to buy them. We found out today that everyone seems to want to wear them.
The fact that sneakers are easier to make in terms of time, effort, materials, and skill creates an interesting problem. A sneaker store can sell to people at both the low end and the high end of the market. Simultaneously, and perhaps more so than any other type of clothing, sneakers are available at a variety of prices for comparable quality. Not only that, but I would argue that a cheap pair of sneakers would look better than a cheap pair of dress shoes.
Consider the Adidas Stan Smith shoe. On sale, you can get them for about $60, and with a casual outfit, they look a lot better than an ugly, chunky square-toed shoe for the same price. Simply put, we don’t like the way cheap dress shoes look, and a $60 chunky, square-toed dress shoe is hard to make look good.
Cheap sneakers, on the other hand, look pretty good. So, all of this goes back to our first point, which was that a pair of sneakers that look good and are passable can be bought for much less than a pair of classic dress shoes.
No more leather
So, going back to our point about making things for less money, the fact is that leather isn’t often used to make sneakers. As more people think about what they buy and sustainability comes to the forefront of their minds, they start to think about buying things that don’t come from animals.
Since the sneaker market was the first to focus on products that are good for the environment, it is miles ahead of the dress shoe market. We’ve already talked about how vegan shoes are turning out to be a good choice for a sustainable future. Sneakers already come in a wider range of styles that don’t use animal products.
Wrapping up this guide, one thing is clear: sneakers aren’t going anywhere. They have a lot of benefits for many people, and they are different from traditional dress shoes in a unique way.
You might be wondering what we think about this debate about classic style. Do we like sneakers, or do we think they’re trash? In the end, sneakers are not a bad thing to buy. They were made to do a certain job, which they do well. And the fact that they are now more common outside of the gym gives us more ways to wear them.
You could say that we think of sneakers in the same way we think of sugary snacks: they’re fun in small amounts and part of a well-balanced style of life.