I love sneakers. But while most sneakerheads chase the euphoric high of copping the latest Yeezy launch and navigate the Nike SNKRS app by muscle memory alone, my preferences lean toward big-name designers' takes on tennis shoes. We're talking the lip-biting disbelief of seeing Dior Air Force Ones at the inauguration. The satisfaction of being able to spot a pair of Margiela Tabi Reeboks in the wild. The insider's club of being able to discern a pair of Vans from their Céline (and not Celine) counterparts.
That's why Alexander McQueen's puffy, exaggerated Oversize Sneakers sit head and shoulders above the Stan Smiths that no doubt inspired them.
These eyebrow-raising sneakers are just different enough so that everyone knows they're not just any other white sneaker — the holographic back doesn't hurt — but are also a way for the British label to continue its inclination to add a wry twist to even the most mundane staples. Every brand, luxury or not, has tried to offer up a take on Adidas's popular style. Technically, it's called a court shoe, and presumably that "court" is a tennis court. But in real life, pros aren't exactly lacing up in the McQueen sneakers, or any of its more subtle brethren, when they hit the clay or grass.
Instead, these shoes are a full 180 from what made the OG Stan Smith so popular. When designer Phoebe Philo took a bow at a 2015 Céline show wearing them, the shoes reportedly sold out. Philo was (and still is) known for keeping things low-key, but the McQueens were released the same year, so there must have been some sort of divergent timeline happening. On one hand, everyone wanted sleek, subtle sneakers with minimal branding. And, at the same time, McQueen's over-the-top, marshmallowy, seemingly inflated shoes were being worn by professional athletes — they're still a favorite among flashy soccer players on both sides of the Atlantic — street style savants, and #menswear stans that either couldn't get a pair of Adidas sneakers or wanted to stand out (and over, thanks to the two-inch platform) from their counterparts.
Thankfully, McQueen continues to release new colorways of the now-iconic and now-unisex style. Black and white come standard every season, but holographic pink and optical-illusion 3-D styles are the latest way that the storied British house keeps things fresh and keeps up with the onslaught of sneakers from its competition.
And while I've admittedly gotten Stan Smith-inspired kicks from labels like Saint Laurent, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton, coming out of a sweatsuit-clad quarantine and re-familiarizing myself with my own wardrobe means some shoes seem too quiet. To me, stepping out into post-quar life means shoefies in these borderline-obnoxious (in the best way!) and ignoring friends' eye rolls and comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo. Maybe when we're all looking to wear flashy clothes again, I'll be wearing my stealthier sneakers, but I can't see myself retiring my McQueens, ever.