Friday, June 27, 2008

The case of the white sneaker part 2

I met up with a friend one day. He wore light blue jeans with a black silk button down shirt adorned with faint horizontal white stripes. His feet were encased in white sneakers. Ok, you’re thinking, so what? Well, these sneakers weren’t Stan Smiths, or Chuck Taylors. They were, if you can imagine, a marriage between Sketchers and hiking boots…but in white.

As he walked towards me, I winced visibly. In my head thought, Oh lordie, what a mess. I only realized I had spoken out loud when I saw the hurt look on his face. Oy!

I started feeling guilty for being a thoughtless friend and proceeded to placate him by explaining why white sneakers are so tricky (or grandpa jeans for that matter, but that’s another post). We know that Marc Jacobs loves his Stan Smiths, but how does the average guy wear them? Here’s the Tini take: Unless you’re at the gym or playing a sport, leave the athletic shoe at home or you risk looking like a well adjusted middle-aged suburban mom/dad. Unfortunately, athletic shoes tend to look sloppy when they are worn out of context. But alas, I couldn’t convince said friend to donate or ditch the monstrosity.

I was at Tyson’s Corner shopping Center in Virginia when I saw John (below). This is closer to how you should wear the white sneaker. Though I like John’s look, I knew that I needed guidance from someone who is steeped in men’s style.

For some edumacation, I turned to Andres Izquieta, the Co-CEO and Creative Director of Five Four. Andres says, “I love white sneakers, they go with everything, but I NEVER wear athletic shoes (i.e. Nike, Reebok, Asics, Adidas) casually. This will give your outfit more of an athletic shoe look and you will end up looking like a total slob. I prefer to wear athletic shoes from the non-athletic shoe brands, because they always provide fashion along with the comfort an athletic shoe.”

Back to John’s look, Andres offers this advice: “I think this guy is better off going with a bigger and wider shoe, like the Takeo Kikuchi shoes. [John] is a bigger guy and is wearing a relaxed leg jean, he needs a shoe that is wide that matches his pant in size so that the aesthetic is consistent. Again, I don’t like the simple white sneaker with pant look, I prefer to go with a bit more fashionable shoe.”

In case you’re wondering which white sneakers to wear, I’ve listed Andres’ picks below. Most people I know are spending less, so I’m not suggesting you drop any Benjamins. I do however, suggest that you familiarize yourself with the market. It might be a good idea to visit the sites such as Men Style to get ideas on how to wear chucks. I should mention that Five Four’s Spring ‘08 and Fall ’07 lines are a great place to start for a quick lesson. Also, check out this NYTimes article for background and ideas.

Converse/Chuck Taylor come in various fabric and color combos. Think, all white, white with black subtle color detail, white with navy and red subtle detail etcetera, etcetera. These will run between $25-$50.

Dior Homme are Andres’ favorite and tend to provide fashion with the “white sneaker” look. These will run from $500…you could always keep your eye out for them on

Tretorn are super comfortable, casual, easy to wear, yet fashionable. Andres always wear the shorts/woven/cardigan look, especially in the late spring and summer. He usually wears such an ensemble with Tretorn canvas white shoes (very basic in styling). The light canvas shoe can be worn with a light cardigan. The construction of Tretorns are such that you can wear them without socks. Tretorn also makes trainers for women. These start at $55.

TST shoes are designed by the former sneaker designer of Helmut Lang and Ludwig Reiter. Their line is always cool and fashionable. Andres’ favorite pair of white sneakers were from them. He unfortunately wore them out. Sadly, they are no longer in circulation (both on TST’s part and on Andres’).

Common Projects’ sneakers are similar to Dior Homme but simpler in design. Here’s Andres’ take, “I think the top brand to watch is Common Projects, they have a great assortment of white and gray sneakers, that compliment any man’s wardrobe. The best thing about them, is that you can either dress them up or down, which is very very key to any guy.” These will run $300 and up.

Hi-top white sneakers –notables include, Air Force 1, Takeo Kikuchi shoes, Raf Simons, Lanvin, Dior Homme Hi-tops, YSL, etc…there’s a lot of these out on the market, priced from $80
to 800…it’s a matter of your taste and budget.

Ok, you may be wondering how to keep those darn white trainers clean. Check out the 2007 David Colman article in the NYTimes about the subject. Now that you have the basics, go forth and be stylish.

Pictures of the sneakers (except for the AF1 and Stan Smiths) are courtesy of Andres


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