What is the point of fashion, but to provoke? Christopher Kane and Balenciaga can’t stop, won’t stop with the haute couture Crocs, Y/Project is making Uggs that double as pants, and chunky-soled dad sneakers are It girls’ preferred footwear du jour. But can glitter-flecked, loosely-Air-Max-95-reminiscent Skechers — and when we say “Skechers,” we’re thinking of the brand’s OG D’Lites style, not its recent Stan Smith and Yeezy knockoffs — jump on this early-2000s nostalgia/bad-taste-meets-good-taste train?
Sure it could. As Fashionista points out, “Two of the most hyped sneakers on the market right now, the Yeezy Wave Runner 700s and the Balenciaga Triple S, look a hell of a lot like Skechers [D’Lites].” Back in the early 2000s, ex-Mickey Mouse club members turned pop stars like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera helped put D’Lites on the map. They were affordable; they were unsubtle; they paired well with capris and velour tracksuits. They were the cash-strapped millennial’s starter sneaker. Then 2017 witnessed the resurrection of Juicy Couture tracksuits, Fendi baguette bags, ultra-low-rise denim and basically all things quirky and oh-so-2000s. Why, then, is Skechers not striking, seeing as the iron is so darn hot?
The market is certainly there. In 2014, analysts were predicting that Skechers was on its way to becoming America’s second-most popular sneaker brand (number one being Nike). That year, Skechers pulled in a whopping $2.4 billion in sales, prompting Footwear News to name the then-22-year-old brand its Company of the Year. In 2015, Season 2, Episode 9 of Broad City saw the show’s co-heroine, Abbi Jacobson, bro-ing down with Kelly Ripa in Skechers and a cocktail dress. In 2016, Vogue reported that Kanye West ingénue-slash-muse Ian Connor first showed up to meet the rapper wearing not Stan Smiths, nor Air Force 1s, but a pair of beat-up Skechers. As the fashion bible tells it, West was impressed by Connor’s “insouciant and louche cool-kid sense of personal style.”
But Skechers itself doesn’t seem to get “it.” (“It” being its own potential fashion appeal.) Perhaps because it doesn’t need to: year over year, the sneaker brand’s sales continue to rise, despite the dearth of #influencers shouting out their free Skechers on Instagram, partying and Story-ing at Skechers-sponsored events, etc. In fact, unlike its peers, the brand seems fairly unconcerned with social media marketing in general. Case in point: the company’s main account boasts a measly 217,000 followers. Its latest pop-diva-powered campaign — starring Camila Cabello — focuses not on the nostalgic D’Lites, but the aforementioned Stan Smith knockoffs (the Hi Lites).
Skechers isn’t here to give out free product to Insta-girls; it’s here to churn out cheap versions of hit shoes by Timberlands, Adidas, Nike and so forth. While its peers nail down celebrity collaborators and reissue old bestsellers, Skechers is content to fly below the It-kid radar.
Still, despite the company’s apparent indifference to the fashion world, more and more tastemakers are turning to D’Lites for their irony, their chunky soles, their je ne sais quoi. Mixed with more current pieces like belted wide-leg trousers or patent patents, D’Lites are easily made to look modern, even chic. Something tells us that style-savvy sneakerheads in search of less ubiquitous footwear will soon realize that the answer was in the very back of their middle school closet all along.
…Or get ahead of the burgeoning trend by shopping the slideshow below.
[ Next: 15 Cool-Girl Sneakers to Buy Right Now ]