Starting Off on the Right Foot – Sharon Hammer, Hamilton College (Sep-Dec 2019)

It didn’t really surprise me to find that people dressed in a more formal and curated manner when I first arrived in London. Afterall, I’d spent enough time in New York to know that being in a cosmopolitan city made for greater variety and value given to fashion. What I didn’t expect was the astonishingly widespread obsession with shoes. Specifically sneakers, or trainers.

There’s a pride taken in their appearance and brand recognition that I find striking. One of my flatmates has even admitted that whereas he can get away with wearing off-brand in his native Turkey, he’s got to have the real thing in London Town. People know enough about their shoes to rattle off the stats without blinking and even identify fakes.

Perhaps my bewilderment is coming from a university in very rural upstate New York where are not as available. Then again, I know there’s a heavy culture of online shopping at my home university, as well as most of the United States.  I don’t quite see the same type of attitude that seriously considers appearance in the same way. I’ve usually found the hub of trainer aficionados to be centered around, usually male, athletes. As a result, the purchase really revolves around the recognition of their performance. Their aesthetic plays a part, but is not the highlight in the same way it is in London.

I’ve seen most folks, regardless of affluence, are more willing to take the plunge for some sick kicks. Not necessarily at full-price though! Most of my mates have got their Ebay, Depop, and thrifting game on lock. I’ll admit it’s made me think more about fashion as an investment. It’s a subtle conversation we all participate in without knowing it. Or, in the case of these Londoners, know way more about.

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