They’re affordable, available on the high street and ‘ugly’. So why are they ranked second in the world’s most-coveted fashion items?
A lot of things have claimed to break the internet. Kim Kardashian’s bottom. The Sexy Felon. Harambe. Fashion claims to break it a lot. Already this summer, a handful of luxury accessories – including an improbably large £620 summer hat that led to the factory where they are made running out of straw – have caused the internet to buckle. Those that do break it tend to make it on to the revered Lyst Index, a ranking of the most coveted fashion items in the world, tracked as much by searches as sales. Released last week, it included – for the first time – a pair of £50 trainers.
While the inclusion of the Fila Disruptor trainer shouldn’t be surprising – sales of trainers were up 10% last year to $4bn (£3bn) – it is. The list habitually features expensive accessories, known as the “gateway drugs” of fashion – non-essential luxury items that are cheaper, relatively speaking – that drive revenue more than actual clothes. This year’s “gateway” items include a Gucci logo belt, Celine sunglasses and an Off-White belt. The appearance of the Fila trainers – which cost between £50 and £80, can be bought on the high street and have a modest 62k searches on Instagram, compared with the Gucci belt’s half a million – is more than an anomaly. It exposes a hole in the system: people are ogling affordable trainers as much as they are Chanel espadrilles.
Why are they this season’s most-wanted footwear (they sit at No 2 on the list)? For one, you could call them ugly, which ticks fashion’s most tenacious trend of late. Style-wise, they sit in the same camp as Balenciaga’s Triple S trainers, the yardstick for this aesthetic. Shape-wise, they resemble the increasingly popular Buffalo boots 2.0, except that they cost half the price (Office Shoes claims a search for one leads to a search for the other). And, they’re also what is known in some corners as “beaters” – trainers that look good dirty or battered.
That they’re called Disruptors is apt. But largely irrelevant, given they are mostly sold out.