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The dirty white sneaker

It isn’t necessarily news that white sneakers are on trend – they have been for years, as far back as 2018, which, in fashion terms, is a long time. 

Between my first pair of Adidas original Stan Smiths and my next pair of white Nike Air Force Ones, it’s also a trend I have completely embraced. Lately, I have even become interested in purchasing the chunky Filas that seem to garner a lot of negative attention.

But something I’ve quietly wondered is why we buy white shoes and wear them when we go out, knowing full well that they'll be trashed by the end of the night?

Miami University junior and strategic communication, journalism and political science triple major Katherine Bukowski understands this confusion well. 

“I actually had someone come up to me at Brick and ask why I wore white sneakers out because they’ll just get dirty,” Bukowski said. “They told me they'll only wear black.”

Her rationale is something I’m familiar with.

“I have a white pair for going out and ones that I keep clean to wear with cute and casual outfits,” Bukowski said. “After a certain point, white shoes will get worn, and you just have to get a new pair or wash them.”

I used to have one pair for going out and one pair kept nice, but eventually my nice shoes became my going out shoes over time as I accidentally wore my shoes out one too many times on a Saturday and one too many times in the rain. 

Gia Tummillo, another junior and the founder and creator of MUse Management, said that getting her white shoes dirty isn't even a concern. 

“I love white sneakers,” Tumillo said. “One: they're really easy; two: they’re comfortable and three: just easily thrown in the wash. They go in the wash with detergent and cold water and bleach laces.”

She also loves to wear them out as a substitution for other going-out-footwear.

“I also buy platform white sneakers because I think they’re a great alternative to the platform bootie and booties/heels in general,” Tumillo said. “They’re so much more comfortable than heels and are the one shoe that really does fit all. No one ever dreads wearing them out.” 

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The shoes are not only comfortable, but versatile. 

“The best part about white shoes is you can dress them up or dress them down, like I’m wearing them with joggers now, but I would wear them with a dress,” Tummillo said.

But there’s an expensive and quite boujee shoe brand on the market now, too, along with some others, that come pre-scuffed and ready to wear: Golden Goose. The brand’s shoes, a literal golden goose, run easily between $400-$600 and can be found online and in stores like Nordstrom and Bloomingdales.

 

While some don’t understand why anyone would buy a shoe that already looks dirty, others love the look.

Seniors Ali Royals, a creative writing major, and Sofia Vlahakos, a psychology and religion double major, each own a pair of the pre-scuffed shoes.

“We also like the way they already look broken in because we don't like the look of pristine sneakers,” Royals said. “I don’t have to worry about wearing them out, and they get dirty or messy since they already come looking that way.”

And the price? Well, they say the price is worth it because the shoes are so original. 

“They are expensive, but each sneaker is so unique that we feel it's worth it, especially since we wear them all the time so we get our money's worth,” Royals said.

Others think that those who do end up purchasing the shoes, do so for the “brand clout.”

“I think a lot of people at Miami wear certain brands for recognition, even if the rest of the outfit doesn’t look great,” Bukowski said.

A lot of people, not just college students at Miami, buy and wear brands for association and recognition. This is due, in large part, to the rise of influencer culture that lives on in all forms of social media, encouraging us to “stunt” on each other through materiality.

Golden Goose is the perfect example of a brand that appeals to influencer culture. It is unique in its relative unknownness — it’s not Gucci or a pair of Louboutins — and reflects the way fashion has wholeheartedly embraced street style and culture through a dirty, scuffed up shoe. 

Regardless of the price or color that our favorite pair of shoes are now, in the future those shoes will still be decided by the trends we follow on social media. 

But as senior Rachel Lowrie said, “At the end of day, we’ll all be wearing them out on Saturdays, so really, what’s the difference?” 

jeffrea2@miamioh.edu 


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