Luxury trainers ruled at Paris Fashion Week Men's

On the eve of the first catwalk show Virgil Abloh directed for Louis Vuitton, the new creative director of Vuitton’s menswear posted a picture of his hands throwing a pair of Vuitton trainers. The image is an apt indication of why the young generation’s darling designer has joined forces with the French luxury label: to inject a healthy dose of street cred into Louis Vuitton.
 

Louis Vuitton trainers by Virgil Abloh - Instagram @virgilabloh

The fact that the first product unveiled for Vuitton by man-of-the-moment Abloh were the sneakers he designed, reveals a lot about the current trends in luxury. After the resounding success of Balenciaga’s Triple S Trainer, fashion labels have become strongly enamoured of this type of footwear, which until two years ago was virtually unseen on the catwalks. One by one, all the leading labels began to collaborate with sport brands, or launched their own models, in a category which is currently replacing the handbag as fashion’s revenue-generating staple.

Average prices for high-end sneakers literally skyrocketed in the last three years. Besides generating sizeable margins, sneakers enable luxury brands to tap a new generation of consumers who did not necessarily have luxe labels in their sights, especially for menswear.

In the last six years, Virgil Abloh emerged as the master of this approach with his Off-White label, whose collaborations, though high-priced, are regularly snapped up. The US designer’s Spring/Summer 2019 show introduced two new colours devised by Abloh for the Nike Air Max 97, as well as his own Off-White trainers.
 
Vetements x Reebok trainers - Dover Street Market

Virgil Abloh wasn’t the only designer or label to collaborate with Nike at the Paris Fashion Week Men's for Spring/Summer 2019: Comme des Garçons models wore Nike Presto shoes, and Sacai collaborated again with the US sport giant -- they did so for a women’s collection in 2015 -- presenting a new take on the Daybreak and Blazer models.

At the 1017-Alyx-9SM show, models wore sneakers called MMW Technical Runner (the label’s designer is Matthew M. Williams), while Jun Takahashi, creative director of Undercover, presented two pairs of Nike trainers.  
 
Young Heron Preston too chose to have his models wear Nike trainers (the classic Air Force One), writing on each pair the model’s catwalk number, in surrealist, Virgil Abloh style. Also seen on the catwalks, Adidas trainers at Andrea Crews and a very 1990s running model by Asics at GmBH, while Puma and Converse too made an appearance at the Paris Fashion Week Men, respectively for Sankuanz and Pigalle.

Vetements, the label which made Demna Gvasalia’s fame, presented two fluorescent Instapump models on the Dover Street Market e-store the day after the end of the fashion week, a few days ahead of its Haute Couture show.


Dior Homme sneakers by Kim Jones - PixelFormula

And when fashion labels aren’t collaborating with a sport brand, they aren’t resting on their laurels either, as shown by two of the LVMH group’s labels. Carol Lim and Umberto Leon, Kenzo’s creative duo, designed a pastel pink sneaker model and Kim Jones, freshly arrived at Dior Homme from Louis Vuitton, produced not one but four different trainer models. Virgil Abloh had better watch out.

Tanissia Issad, Lucile Deprez and Olivier Guyot

Translated by Nicola Mira

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