Hi-top shoes left the basketball court a long, long time ago. These days, they’re one of the most consistent trends around. They might waver in and out of style every now and again but they always return. Their versatility and comfort makes them a wildly popular fashion choice and they come in more variations than most people realise. Hi tops aren’t just for running and jumping in any more – they’re back and this time they’ve brought a large dose of sex appeal with them.
According to the eBay guide, hi-top sneakers were first developed in 1917 by the Converse Rubber Shoe Company of Massachusetts. They were specifically designed to give professional basketball players a more comfortable sports shoe. Today, the Converse Rubber Shoe Company may have had a name change and a bit of a Gok Wan makeover but its mission is largely the same. After all, hi-tops haven’t changed in order to cater to the men’s casual shoes market – the casual market has changed around them.
The hip hop explosion of the mid 80’s saw sportswear slowly become street wear. Struggling rappers and hip hop musicians from economically deprived areas tended not to have enough money to buy the most fashionable shoes and clothes on the market – so they made their own look. They teamed multi coloured hi-tops with camo print jackets, sweaters and snapback hats. They wore sportswear because it was cheap and comfortable to move around in, not because they were trying to kick start a global trend – they did though.
These days, hi-tops are worn by everybody from skaters to celebrities. Kanye West, Jay Z, Wayne Rooney and even Simon Pegg have all recently been seen rocking the hi top look. They still come in four basic varieties and these varieties are all sporty – sneaker hi-tops, basketball hi-tops, athletic hip-tops and skate hi-tops. As aforementioned, the hi-top didn’t change to meet the market, the market changed to meet them.
So how is the humble hi-top being worn this season? Well, the answer to that is simple – it’s being worn cool, effortlessly cool, says Fashion Beans journalist Ben Jones. Rocking the hi-tops is all about that finding that street casual look that existed in the 80’s. Try teaming yours with an oversized graphic print tee, a pair of tan board shorts and a bomber jacket. Or if the skate look isn’t quite your thing – swap the board shorts for skinny jeans and the tee for a tailored shirt, suggest the experts at ItsNotForGirls.com. Add an artfully distressed bomber or Barbour jacket and you’re good to go. Both of these ensembles can be worn as casual wear during the day and edgy gig-wear during the evening. For a more formal look, simply get rid of the snapback hat and roll your trouser legs up 50’s teddy boy style. Sit back and watch the heads turn.
When it comes to buying your hi-tops, choose carefully – they should last at least two years. One of the best things about hi top shoes, Converse especially, is their ability to look cool even when distressed, damaged or old. You certainly don’t want to be throwing them away just because they’ve got a superficial scuff or tear, but you do want them to last at least a couple of years before they get to that point. An awful lot of hi-top shoes tend to be slightly oversized – the rubber sole at the front of brands like Converse and Vans can often cause this. This is not a problem as long as you try your chosen pair on before buying them. If you don’t, you might find that there’s a bit of extra room in the back. This can usually be countered by wearing thick socks but you should avoid it entirely if possible.
To say that hi-tops are ‘back’ isn’t 100% accurate. Hi-tops are one of those fashion staples that never really go away. Their practicality, comfort and versatility makes them an all rounder. They can be worn at any time of the year. They can be teamed with almost any outfit and they cost next to nothing compared with other leading sports shoes. Hi-tops are just too rad to ever go out of style.