Menswear's increasing obsession with luxury sneakers is the very definition of hitting the ground running.
With everyone from Nike to cutting-edge Californian label APL jumping on the bandwagon to garner foot time beyond the gym or run track, suffice to say that as far as choice is concerned the shoe is finally on the other foot – ours.
Fitness to fashion
Nike's ambivalent approach to fashionable footwear has been documented in numerous ways, but the brand is going to even greater lengths to provide the kind of sneaker that deliberately transcends one particular purpose for wearing.
Their latest running shoe, the Nike Free RN 5.0, while designed to give runners the sensation of barefoot contact has the futuristic sense of cool that would make it just as easily rocked with a more tailored look.
Nike footwear designer Gerald Sullivan was recently out in Australia taking stock of the sneaker market and explains that one of the most exciting things about the footwear industry is that there are no longer any rules.
"We're actually going bonkers, having as much fun as possible," says Sullivan
"There's a lot of different footwear trends that have gone through the years and every time someone pushes it to a new state that opens up a new era. And I think that's where I am right now, just really pushing the aesthetic of what a sneaker is."
Friends in fashionable places
One of the driving forces behind the sneaker boom is the demand for collaborations.
Whether it be Converse with Margiela, Adidas with Pharrell Williams and Raf Simons, or Nike with everyone from Off-White, Louis Vuitton, and most recently Tokyo-based designer Atmos – teaming up with a name of either equal fashion fame or cult status adds even more clout to your kicks. And provides reasonable dollop of collectibility thanks to their limited availability.
Sullivan himself was part of some Nike's more niche collaborations, including Japanese brand Comme des Garcons and American artist Tom Sachs.
Hit the decks
But fashion's sneaker fetish also owes their biggest debt to skate culture, which has invariably borrowed from various sports, genres, or brands to create the perfect hybrid statement. Leading the pack here has been Vans.
A regular dabbler in the collab scene, Vans has crossed over from half pipes and skate parks to a bona fide mover and shaker in the art and fashion world. An impressive evolution for a brand that began as a made-to-order business and sold 12 pairs on their first day.
It's been the element of surprise while retaining a sense of timelessness that has also made Vans one of the most enduring footwear brands in the fashion industry. Take a squiz through a handful of influencer or model instagrams and you won't have to look very far before you spy a pair of Vans Old Skools in black.
So far, they've been able to create limited edition collabs with Disney, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, NASA, and even created a line inspired by the albums of David Bowie. This month, they're dropping a collab with artist or gonzovationist Ralph Steadman and animal rights WildAid to raise awareness of the world's endangered species, with Vans dedicating $10, 000 to conservation efforts.
Similarly, Californian brand APL have also tapped into the idea of renewable materials.
Teaming up with Australia's Woolmark, their partnership focuses on luxury performance - where comfort works in tandem with science to create a shoe that has an environmental conscience.
Made with 80 per cent Australian Merino wool, the Techloom Breeze sneaker promises to be the most sustainable shoe ever.
Check out the gallery up top to see the latest sneaker drops to get your feet moving.