There’s a lot going on in fashion today. A lot of it is weird and bad and stupid. A lot of it is good and smart and fun. Sometimes wearing the weird, bad, stupid stuff ironically makes it good or smart or fun. Irony is a stronger force in the way clothing is worn today that it has ever been before. There is a way to look good while dressing poorly on purpose.
Camp is back on the rise in a big way, and with the freedom to experiment with aesthetics, the clothes-wearing people of the world have done some interesting things. One of the themes that has most heavily pervaded the fashion world, and especially the current athleisure genre, is a focus on the futuristic. One of the first rules of fashion is don’t be caught in last season’s pieces, so it only follows that dressing for spring 2035 in fall 2019 is popular. Adidas has fueled this contemporary-futurist niche over the past eight-or-so years, especially in their footwear. One of the best examples of this is the Yeezy.
I own a pair of Yeezys (triple whites, because I don’t believe in attachment). The ups and downs of Kanye’s public perception have often governed the frequency with which I wear my Yeezys, but the pre-sale, retail, and after-market value and popularity of the silhouette has been one of the strongest and most consistent of any shoe.
The shoe itself has many appeals, as well as many drawbacks. It is an incredible socio-cultural object to study. It is almost impossible to wear a Yeezy in neutrality. The gesture of slipping them on (because if you lace them up everytime you’re doing it wrong) is always charged culturally, politically, socially, or economically.
The choice to not, or in my case stop, wearing them is a statement of equal weight. My 350s are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever had, hands down, bar none. Naturally, whenever I go to the airport they’re my go-to shoe. I always see other people wearing Yeezys at the airport, which makes sense, because they’re the perfect airport shoe.
That’s the problem, and why I’ve decided to stop wearing mine. My decision doesn’t stem from a principle of exclusivity, but from a more tribal place. More and more, I see Yeezys on the feet of people I don’t necessarily want to be associated with. I see too many guys in midtown pairing their Yeezys with Bird Dogs or Lulu Lemon, too many middle-aged men wearing Yeezys and a Panerai watch leaving Equinox on the upper east side, and too many eighth grade boys with private school backpacks lining up at Stadium Goods.
The Yeezy has always said many things. They were support of Kanye West, support of a shakeup in the fashion community, support of an outsider with a dream and a message. They were support of the future of footwear, of innovative and risky design, of rallying against the accepted. They were, in a cruel twist of fate, support of Donald Trump and some other highly unsavory ideas.
I had pride in being seen in my Yeezys– they meant something to me because I knew that they spoke when they scuffed the sidewalk. They are just as loud now as they’ve ever been, but I just don’t know what they’re saying anymore.