Is Normcore Over? The Sneaker Fad, and Why Functional Style Is Here to Stay

December 13, 2015 Updated: December 15, 2015
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Even our president did it.

President Barack Obama exits his motorcade nd walks to a friend's house to watch the NBA All-Star basketball game in 2009. (Frank Polich-Pool/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama exits his motorcade nd walks to a friend’s house to watch the NBA All-Star basketball game in 2009. (Frank Polich-Pool/Getty Images)

For those who didn’t know the term already, normcore is, by definition, a fashion trend stylized by items of unpretentious and average-looking clothing. It is a portmanteau of the words “normal” and “hardcore.” How original.

But this fad was far from the ordinary, the average, and the unremarkable. And the purpose of this article is to pay respect to where it’s due, to the paragon of this phenomenon that was incepted by a webcomic back in 2009… the sneaker.

Yes, we’re all familiar with the sneaker. You wore it to your middle school dodgeball tournament, your post-work squash match, your dance-cardio class with the girls, and your jog in the park. But in recent years, sneakers have been reinvented and rebranded to be more than the sneakers you wore to the gym. No, really, they will cost you a lot more.

Functionally, these rubber-soled with leather-upper shoes have not changed much. Aesthetically, they may also look similar to the Adidas Stan Smiths and Reeboks you wore as a kid (which are also making their comebacks). This aesthetic’s exalted brand equity earned it the power to substantiate the new and hefty price tags.

Designers, artists, musicians alike are flocking to the money-making game of designing expensive sneakers for normal brands. (And if you’re a celebrity reading this article, ask yourself this: “If I haven’t designed a sneaker in my career, have I really made it as an artist?”)

Let’s take a look:

OVO Air Jordans 10 (Retail: $225; Sold out and on Ebay for up to $20,000)

air-jordan-10-ovo-drake-white-release-date-6 from NIKE
OVO Air Jordans 10. (NIKE)

 

Yeezy Boosts 350 (Retail $751)

Currently sold out and on Ebay for up to $3000 a pair

Red Octobers (Retail: $245; Sold Out and on Ebay for up to $49,000)

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 27:  A detailed view of the Nike Air Yeezy 2 "Red October" sneaker on February 27, 2014 in New York City. The Kanye West collaboration is presently reselling for thousands of dollars .  (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
Nike’s Red Octobers sneaker. (Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

Raf Simons for Adidas (Retail $485, currently on sale for a bargain of $340)

BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 23:  Renier poses wearing Commes des Garcons black jacket, Yohji Yamamoto black trousers,  Alexander Mcqueen black skullhat, Blow@Born vintage jewelry and Adidas Raf Simons trainners at the Born district on October 23, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Miquel Benitez/Getty Images)
Adidas Raf Simons trainers. (Miquel Benitez/Getty Images)

Jeremy Scott and a personal favorite (Retail: $490)

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 05:  A shoe designed by Jeremy Scott is seen at the 'adidas ObyO Jeremy Scott FW12 Showroom in Paris'  on March 5, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images for adidas)
Adidas’ ObyO by Jeremy Scott. (Francois Durand/Getty Images for adidas)

And simultaneously, major haute design houses start also caught on the sneaker fire…

Chanel (L: Spring 2014 runway; R: Fall 2014 runway)

(Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Chanel shoes (L) Spring 2014 Runway and (R) Fall 2014 Runway. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Dior (Spring 2014 runway)

The Dior Haute Couture Spring 2014 fashion show in Hong Kong.  (Jessica Hromas/Getty Images)
The Dior Haute Couture Spring 2014 fashion show in Hong Kong. (Jessica Hromas/Getty Images)

Stella McCartney (Fall 2014 runway)

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 03:  Cara Delevigne walks the runway during the Stella McCartney show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2014-2015 on March 3, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images)
Cara Delevigne walks the runway during the Fall 2014 Stella McCartney show in Paris, France. (Francois Durand/Getty Images)

Celine (Fall 2015 runway)

The Celine fall 2015 collection fashion show in Paris. (BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)
The Celine fall 2015 collection fashion show in Paris. (BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)

Alexander Wang (Spring 2016 runway)

The  Alexander Wang Spring 2016 collection during the New York Fashion Week. (Joshua LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)
The Alexander Wang Spring 2016 collection during the New York Fashion Week. (Joshua LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)

This trend has made it “cool” to pair couture dresses with sneakers you can buy from the Foot Locker on Broadway, and walk straight to the red carpet.

And what if you’re a guy who want to look dapper but your John Lobb loafers are at the leather spa? No worries, a Gucci suit paired with sneakers is just as acceptable.

Robert Downey Jr. at the Palm Springs International Film Festival Film Festival Awards Gala in Palm Springs, Calif., on Jan. 3, 2015. (Michael Buckner/Getty Images for PSIFF)
Robert Downey Jr. at the Palm Springs International Film Festival Film Festival Awards Gala in Palm Springs, Calif., on Jan. 3, 2015. (Michael Buckner/Getty Images for PSIFF)

So back to my original question of “is normcore over?”

While the white turtleneck paired with ’70s mom jeans may not always be the most flattering look, those sneakers will never make you look fat. Sneakers are here to stay. And they are paving the runway for athleisure-wear (a trend that integrates activewear and casualwear) with a US market size of $35.1 billion as of 2014.

Are you ready for what’s next?