In case you’re not a hypebae or sneakerhead whose Google alerts are set for such news: Spanish fashion house Balenciaga dropped its latest sneaker on Monday. Spoiler alert: The release itself wasn’t groundbreaking. Designer labels have been wooing athleisure shoppers for several years now, hoping to cuff the most-popular fashion category.
The real bit of industry-shaking intel here? It’s the first time a luxury fashion house has pushed so far into performance territory. Sure, plenty of designers have collaborated on sneakers that make great street style, but none have released a functional piece of footwear under their own label.
Balenciaga feels like the perfect luxury designer to test the waters. Both its Triple S and Speed Trainer became instant bestsellers, helping to usher in the chunky shoe and high sock sneaker trend that rose to power in 2017. This year, however, they bring us the Track Trainer, which isn’t just for show—it’s also for sport. At its core, it’s a hiking shoe. Should you be one of those bad ass, well-heeled women hitting the trails—the Track is for you (as long as you’re cool with its $850 price tag, that is). Prefer exercising in studios as opposed to the great outdoors? You can also lace up a pair for low-impact workouts like sculpt or HILIT works, too. Or, forget their functionality altogether: Wear them with leisure suits, midi dresses, or a trendy piece of transitional outerwear in true athleisure fashion.
The extended tread on the toe of this sneaker equips it for more than walking the runway. Same goes for the exaggerated bubble heel. It looks like it could make even the most super-cushioned running shoe feel less like a La-Z-Boy on a trek through Griffith Park. Plus, it ticks a lot of the boxes for fall’s biggest sneaker trends; its sole is chunky, for example. There’s no shortage of novelty design details, either, with exaggerated cord laces that overlap behind protective panels in bold colorways of electric blue, orange, and yellow.
Despite the popularity of athleisure, performance wear (AKA: tech-driven workout clothes) fell 10 percent in 2017, so it’s a bold move that Balenciaga’s creative director Demna Gvasalia introduced the shoe in the first place. Waning interest in this space doesn’t seem to be an issue here though. Styles of the Track are already sold out online.
It’s possible that luxury brands could actually boost sales of performance apparel. If they can entice their cult followings into the space by adding their own sense of style to sportswear. The Track, a hybrid of fashion and function, is an excellent test. It’s by design the type of trainer a luxury sneaker lover would wear to work out. (One who knows that sweating in your street shoes isn’t a great idea.)
It’s not just ready-to-wear brands embracing athleisure. Here are the activewear makers who want to start outfitting you in more than workout clothes.
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