Sneaker Nation

When did the Fourth Great Awakening occur? (You will recall Tom Wolfe already discussed the first three.)

At what point did we decide to abandon our wingtips for canvas-top, rubber sole, lace-ups, with laces manufactured using the slipperiest material known to humans: sneakers?

Curious minds demand answers! Who was making these decisions and for which reasons?

Though I own few shoes, always in pairs, one can find them. They’re on a rack in a closet, with a thick, undisturbed layer of dust. There is a couple of pair of what some might loosely define as “dress” shoes. Dress shoes are the kind that require polish.

You know, Kiwi or Shinola.

Over the years, these pairs have suffered the fate of similar costume attire: the dreaded and nearly pervasive closet ailment.

The closet ailment is when the fit for some dimensions remains both comfortable and accurate, while other dimensions have shrunk resulting in a more, ah-hem, snug fit.

Pants, for example. Virtually all of my rarely worn closet pants retain an appropriate inseam length. In fact, at least a few pair of pants seem to have grown a bit on this dimension while closeted and, today, are too long.

The same pants’ waist, to my surprise, and thanks solely to the closet, has plainly diminished. In some instances, considerably.

But, for the last quarter century or so, most of the time my feet are covered by sneakers. And, as I unscientifically look around, I am not alone.

Sneakers are today’s sensible shoes. Sensible and comfy.

Once upon a time, ankle-height, soft sole shoes that looked as though they were suede were my shoe of choice.

No laughing. Just what the devil is wrong with desert boots, anyway?

Still have a pair. Stored in the awful closet, of course. And they, like so much else, have shrunk in length, too.

It must be a measure of my age. PF Flyers, Converse, Stride-Rite.

The slogan “Keds are for kids” sounds so familiar. So right. And so long in the past.

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