The chronically online have seemingly decided that no tennis shoes are cool anymore.
If you ever find yourself on some version of fashion TikTok or the conversations that stem from it, you’ve probably seen the rise and nearly immediate “fall” of popular sneaker styles like the New Balance 550 or Adidas Samba.
If you’re not familiar, last year the sneaker of the year was undoubtedly the Adidas Samba. It’s rise was fueled by the World Cup and an extremely successful collaboration with designer Wales Bonner, which had people buzzing for the long-time soccer-associated kicks. They’ve been classics for decades, but this new craze gave them a remix for a new generation.
But before you knew it, the cycle of online discourse churned and burned these all-timers. They were everywhere, on every “cool guy” and “it girl”, and thus those “in the know” felt they were no longer enviable. (There’s sort of an NYC fashion cycle that mirrors the online cycle, which starts downtown and works its way around Manhattan and the outer Burroughs until it lands back in Murray Hill, near midtown. By the time it’s in Murray Hill, the “finance bros” has gotten ahold of it, and it’s officially become “played out”. For Sambas, this cycle happened exceedingly quickly.)
Ironically, the same thing happened with the previous year’s go-to sneaker: the New Balance 550. Aime Leon Dore and their founder Teddy Santis revived this dormant silhouette a few years ago, and it’s gone fully mainstream now. It is unquestionably a certified, modern classic, and one worth of anyone’s regular rotation. Wonder what the tastemakers say now? You guessed it: cooked.
Now, Sambas are available in tons of new colors (often the natural consequence of a shoe having a “moment”), and while they still are in your coolest friend’s sneaker rotation, the novelty of their rise has long since passed by those who have been paying attention.
But here’s the thing: whether you’re wearing low rise jeans in a Y2K moment, or you’re on a Stranger Things, Running Up That Hill type beat, or you constantly live in 90’s nostalgia, or even if you’re swimming in Kohl’s cash, the most classic sneaker shapes are going to work for you — they have, after all, been around for a long time!
The internet will tell you something is “over”, but let me ask you this: if a TikTok-er makes a video, but your algorithm doesn’t show it to you, does it make a sound?
The point is, wear what you want to wear, always.
This is the essence of personal style. Trends come and go — at break-neck speeds these days — so you have to be discerning with which ones you care to embrace. The reality is that if you’re wearing something everyone is telling you is cool, you’re probably already late to the game (someone was wearing it in Atlanta yesterday, LA last week, NYC last month, and Paris last year), so why stress about which kicks are the flashiest picks for your getaway sticks?
The goal should always be to find pieces that a. bring you joy, b. fit your personal style (or operate as the one piece that intentionally diverges, AKA a statement piece), and c. can outlast the algorithm. As Anna and I have grown and developed our own personal styles, we’ve continued to come back to these ideas.
It’s not about putting yourself in a box. For us, it’s really about finding a timeless and cohesive wardrobe that makes us feel comfortable and confident every time we get dressed. (Comfort is not one-size-fits-all, by the way, which means you don’t have to conform to anyone else’s style worldview. If you’re stuck in a rut, trying something new, or wanting to diverge from the status quo, rock it fearlessly and let the pieces fall where they may. As Anna often says, “wear something with confidence, and people will believe you.”)
Ultimately, the remarkably short story of the Samba is a wonderful reminder to not let someone tell you when to start or stop wearing something. Maybe a recent trend brings to mind a style, silhouette, or idea that you have always loved but just forgot, and there’s nothing wrong with chasing that feeling — just don’t let it become your entire personality. Also, don’t be surprised when a 13 year old on TikTok makes you feel like an idiot for jumping on a runaway bandwagon.
If you’re looking for some new shoes or inspo, we’ve shared some of our favorites here!
A version of this piece was originally featured in our newsletter! You can subscribe to our weekly email here if you haven’t before!