Sneaker Feature: Kicks are for Queers

Sneakers. Trainers. Jumps. Takkies. Stomps. Tennis. Chucks. Dunks. Gutties. Skunks. Runners. Kicks.

via chicksandkicks.tumblr.com

Call them what you will, but please don’t ever say that a sneaker is just a sneaker, ‘least not to my face. These days kicks cross cultural, racial, economic and sexuality-based boundaries. They’ve become some of the most versatile and mainstream accessories with which to adorn the body. Trainers transcend the hood, cross into your queer community and do kick flips across half-pipes without ever really needing to be laced. Sneakers are the universal sign for “I got this.”

But I’m sure you know this wasn’t always the case. I’m sure you know that at one point sneakers were little things that athletes wore to keep from breaking ankles and to get a little bounce in their game. I won’t get into the history of kicks because there are documentaries and books that do a way better job of that, but I will say this: hip-hop did it. Old school rap artists like Run-DMC and celebrities embraced by rap culture, like Michael “The best basketball player in the whole world, ever” Jordan pushed sneakers from being athletic to being aesthetic. Run-DMC and their ode to A.D.I.D.A.S. shuttled shell-toed sneakers onto the block and into the consciousness of urban youth as things they so needed to rock, like on their feet, like yesterday.

The crispier, more expensive and rarer, the better. My kicks need to be my own and your kicks well…you do you. We compare kicks and comment on how badass they are and MCs drop them into lyrics, so we sing the sneaker electric without even realizing it until that one pair, the pair that stops all tracks and beats dead — the must have. Hip hop did this and now the rest of the world runs on rubber soles. And let’s be real, hip-hop heads and queers are always on the up and up when it comes to trendy shit.

We are some fashionable mofos. (I mean just look at Lizz for cristalsakes.) We queermos have pulled sneakers into that reflective space; the space that says, “Look at how fly I am. I’m queer. I’m fashionable and you wish you had these kicks.” In many ways, wearing sneakers aids in signaling out elements of our various presentations. So let’s discuss shit for a second, shall we? And by discuss shit, I mean let’s talk about me. I promise this is all really about sneakers.

My mother forced me to have a Sweet 16. Seriously, I wanted to die the entire time it was being planned and for most of the time it was happening. All of the things had to get did: hair, nails, fittings, make-up and learning how to walk in heels. Why, you ask? Why did I need to know how to walk in heels? Well, My Sweet 16 ceremony included the idea that I’d walk down an aisle to my awaiting father in blue and red low-top Nikes. He’d sit me in a chair and remove my sneakers, replacing them with lavender heels to match my lavender chiffon dress.

that hair took like 5 hours to make, btw.

This totally happened. It was supposed to signify the end of me being tomboy and the beginning of my life as a fancy, femme, high-heel wearing woman. Much to my mother’s dismay, those blue and red Nikes were back on my feet before the night was over. I should have known then that my connection to kicks would become a lifestyle choice.

In this big old mainstream world, women are supposed to wear heels if they want to be sexy, accepted, desired, acknowledged and all that other shit. End of story.

Note: There is NOTHING wrong with wearing heels. In fact, if you can rock them right, it’s sexy as hell and beautiful and all types of women/people/teddybears should wear all of the things that make them feel sexy. This piece in no way passes judgment on heel-rockin’ peoples.

But when you’re a dykey little queermo like I was, and you feel like a clutzy overweight foal clomping around in heels, the pressure to wear them is/was fucking nauseating.

Anxiety-inducing.

Insecurity-rousing.

Self-hatred-boosting.

Womanhood-denying.

These are all the verb-jectives that describe my relationship with not only high-heels, but most other shoes designed for the feet of feminine and (ideally) heterosexual women. So just like when I came out, the decision to say, “fuck it” and embrace my love of kicks came from the fact that I refused to live in presentational misery. Wearing sneakers made me feel fly as fuck. And kick culture is imbedded in my urban upbringing. We used to say that we wore kicks cuz you never knew when you might need to run from cops, hop a fence or stomp a fool. Mostly, we wanted to look cool because we were too nerdy to get in any actual trouble. But also, who among us can really vault a fence in heels without breaking an ankle? No one. Stop lying. You know you can’t.

So long story long, sneakers are my footwear/lifestyle choice. They aid in letting other queermos know I play for Team Homo. (C’mon, a well-dressed queer in some limited edition Pumas that match their bow-tie, leggings, sundress, plaid-shirt and/or fedora, always puts a blip on my gaydar. But maybe that’s just me.) Sneakers connect me to my hood, to what I find fashionable and keep me close to the little girl that still likes to pounce puddles on the playground.

In my quest to share all of me with all of you, I asked Riese-Oprah-Jesus if I could do a post on sneakers. The homoheavens opened up and realized that such a post had not yet been made and so I was bestowed with the honor of making it so. Reaching out to certain members of the AS fold, one Hot Associate Editor Laura Wooley reached back and together we created this random but fly list of kicks for you to rock this summer.

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Top Ten Kicks for Ballers of All Income Levels

brought to you by Laura Wooley and Me

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Diesel Hi-Top GZ-212
Price: $28.99

Gabby: Classic doesn’t always mean black and white, right? Try these Diesel kicks for color and a bit of dandified flair. (I apologize in advance for the limited sizes with this pair.)

Sperry Top-Sider CVO
Price: $50.99


Gabby: If shoes could be dycons, then Sperry’s would win the super laid back but versatile award. They’d also probably knock out Doc Marten’s for queer shoe of the year, but this would only be the case if shoes had gay award shows.

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Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star Reform Hi-Top
Price: $55.99

Gabby: A solid pair of Converse is one of those key items that could potentially go with everything. These won’t burst your budget and they’ll totally up your mack stats.

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Nike 6.0 BRAATA LR Mid/ Rogue Green
Price: $65.99

Laura: I mostly buy my sneakers from the clearance rack at the Nike store. The one by me almost always has last seasons designs on sale for 50% off and you know what? Last season’s shoes are good enough for me. Not to mention the leftovers are usually really amazing colors because everyone else was afraid that glow-in-the-dark shoes might be overkill. 

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Aldo Dorgan
Price: $70.00

Laura: I can’t help myself, I want these shoes. I’ve been making eyes at them every day when I walk past the shoe store on the way to work. If I had these shoes, I would have no option but to stomp around like a lady and get shit done.

TopShop Aerobic Wedge Heel Trainers
Price: $96.00

Gabby: Unfortunately, they’re sold out of the black but these silver ones shine. TopShop is kind of the shit, for real.

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G Star Raw Men’s Skirmish
Price: $70.00

Laura: If I was blessed with all the money in the world and big feet, I would own all the G-Star Raw  shoes. They’re all svelte and European and sexy, which are qualities that are hard to come by in a sneaker/trainer-if-you’re-savvy.

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Nike Air Yeezy All White
Price: $81.59

Gabby: I wasn’t too sure how the glow in the dark sneaker thing would turn out until I saw these. Also, the name Air Yeezy makes me think about a flying dog that can rap and how if that idea ever became a movie, it’d make probably a billion dollars.

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Puma Clyde X Undefeated Snakeskin
Price: $47.00

 Gabby: I just have a thing for red kicks, man.

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Puma Mihara Mid Union Jack
Price: $150.00

Gabby: If flag prints on things is offensive to you, then my bad. The Union Jack reminds me of this really hot British chick I fell in love with once and I love sneakers so…These.

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marc by Marc Jacobs Calf Dorada Sneaker Wedge
Price: $452.00

Gabby: Oh, you fancy, huh?

 

This list isn’t intended to be the be all end all of all the sneakers in the land! It’s just a little list intended to kick start your summer footwear. What types of sneakers do you like? Or do you hate sneakers and wish everyone just wore flip flops? Tell us about it.

Also, be on the look out for Sneaker Feature: Kicks are for Queers B-Sides with bits on hot sneaker-based tumblrs, customization and limited edition collector kicks.

Avatar of gabrielle

Gabrielle Rivera is an awesomely queer Bronx bred, writer, spoken word artist and director. Her short stories and poems have been published in various anthologies such as the Lambda Award winning Portland Queer: Tales from the Rose City and The Best of Panic! En Vivo from the East Village. Her short film "Spanish Girls are Beautiful" follows a group of young Latina and Caucasian girls who like girls as they hook up, smoke up and try to figure sh*t out. She also freelances for Autostraddle.com while working in the film and television industry. Gabrielle is currently working on her first novel while bouncing around NYC performing spoken word and trying to stick it to the man.

gabrielle has written 66 articles for us.

137 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

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    I have these purple Chucks with ratty red laces that I’ve had for 9 years. They are literally falling apart and have more holes in them then I can count. I know this should justify getting a new pair of Chucks (because I need to justify these things or shit get out of control) but I cannot part with these shoes.

    Also, anyone else have the song “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People stuck in their heads now?

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    Firstly,
    Ladies. Most of you got curves- I love you for it- BUT PLEASE, please stop wearing straight leg jeans and those over-sized 1989 “kicks.” Honey, you don’t look like the Beibs, and you never will- he’s a teenage boy. Wanting to look like a 15 year old is something to talk to your therapist about, not your local retail vendor. Jess (above), buy boys shoes if you don’t fit in men’s sizes.

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      hmm, i’d have to disagree with the above. i personally like it when curvy girls wear whatever they want, even if that means skinny jeans with high tops. actually, especially that. and i’ve seen women rocking that look for years, and it definitely does not have anything to do with an 18 year old boy. if anything, he (and lil wayne, and whoever) took the look from us!

      oh btw i wore these last night, one of my faves from my collection: http://www.kicksonfire.com/2008/06/18/nike-terminator-supreme-blackgold-rock-roll-pack/

      also thank you gaby and laura for a post on kicks <3 <3

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      I’d have to disagree. I think it’s a bit crass to make this type of comment on a website that encourges women to do/say/wear whatever makes them feel best about themselves. Style isn’t universal, and just because it doesnt work for you doesn’t mean it’s not for anyone. I don’t think anyone here needs to see a therapist about their fashion choices.

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        Did I hurt your feelings? Wear what you want, Dee, and I’ll think what I want. I will not apologize for having a developed opinion on a style choice people make. Discussion is a way to develop actions/words/wears. If you like it, and have the CONFIDENCE to rock it, f-ing rock it. I would never discourage people from expressing them selves through the art of fashion. Fashion is a quick visual way to communicate with the world- make sure you’re saying what you want to say. Dress how you want and don’t let a playful comment on a website make you feel discouraged about a pair of skinny jeans.

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          My feelings weren’t hurt in the least. I’m neither a curvy girl nor one who rocks that particular style. I just found the tone of your comment sounded more like telling someone what to do/not do rather than expressing an opinion. I’m sure a lot of the women you are referring to were rocking their looks long before Bieber was a thing and it sounded condescending. If I misunderstood something that was supposed to be humor, then I apologize, however my opinion hasn’t changed. You say you wouldn’t discourage people from expressing themselves and that isn’t what came across to me at first. Either way, nothing said here is going to change how I represent myself. You do you.

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          Yo, I look fucking amazing when I dress like Justin Bieber. I walk into a gay bar and all the heads turn sooooo you got nuthin.

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        I probably wouldn’t see my therapist for fashion feedback because she wears a lot of prairie dresses, and that just isn’t my thing. Maybe I should get a more fashionable therapist who can judge my clothing and tell me what it says about me.

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        Do what you do grrl sounds like you know how to wear whatever you want. I’m just making an observation. I’m far from small minded, but you can slap me around if you want.

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      dude sorry but there’s nothing hotter/cuter to me than a girl with some thicky thick thighs in skinny jeans, that slip down to tiny ankles that turn into some wild multi-colored dunks. swag 4 dayz. body for weeks.
      love love it. ladies, please don’t stop.
      like many of you have already said: beiber’s stylist stole that from us.

      also, feel free to speak your preference but just know that what you say here will get a response and if the ppl ain’t feeling it, they will for sure, let you know.

      now can there be a tumblr for thick thighed chicks in skinny jeans wearing dunks? please oh please oh pleasies?

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      What does that have to do with curves?

      I personally don’t like the style you’re referring to and I don’t have any curves but it didn’t look great on me. If other people want to do it, it’s their body and their choice, more power to them if it makes them feel happy. People don’t dress for me to specifically find them attractive or give any approval, they (should) dress because they like the style they’re wearing. Plus, it actually looks good on some people, like even though I still don’t like the style they pull it off well, if this makes sense.

      So, basically, as someone who doesn’t like that style, your comment still sounds preachy and rude. People can wear what they like and basing that on how curvy a person is? Really?

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    I love this! I am a sneaker junkie! I actually wish there was an online trading site for lesbians who like kicks….i have 6 or 7 limited edition kicks I wanna unload…including reebok easter egg pumps and old skool high top leopard print reeboks!

    You rock for this post girl!

  4. Thumb up 0

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    Grrrrl, I absolutely love this! A few weeks back I broke down and replaced my running shoes with a custom pair of Nikes I made on their website….possibly one of the greatest things ever! The initial response I got when I shared them with the world was “those are the gayest shoes ever!” Mission Accomplished. few things feel quite as fly as a fresh pair of kicks.

    And you’re so right about those red Pumas!!

  5. Thumb up 0

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    I have worn nothing but Chuck Taylors for the past 6 years, in various colors spanning red, black, and then red again. They are my part of my “look” at this point, and I can’t part with them.

    I am confused by the sneaker wedges. Just… wat?

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      We should probably be friends. 75-90% of the time if I am wearing something on my feet they’re converse. This is something that has been a constant in my life for the past 20 years. I’ve tried to out grow it, but I can’t. My feet feel at home in converse.

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      me too! in high school i wore converse one-stars, and in college i switched to Pumas temporarily, and then to Chucks, which I’ve been wearing for like 10 years now, the black ones.

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    Aww, this article reminds me of my shoEvolution! I remember my skater era, wearing a pair of Vans and DC’s. The (had-to-wear-a-uniform-in-middle-school era), so I wore Nike Cortez and some BK’s (British Knights) with the uniform. I also played basketball back in the day, so I had a pair of these:

    http://shoes.n-sb.org/img/thumbs/05e728aa72a579ffcfece41a768ad6c9.jpg (I loved them, but the grip on those shoes when it met the court were horrible!)

    I’m not much of a shoe freak, but I do have a minimal collection of shoes. I usually end up buying shoes and then forgetting about them and then all of sudden I got a shit load of shoes in the closet, as I ponder to myself, “When the hell did I buy these?! Yay! It’s like a birthday present to myself all over again, these shoes are awesome, lol.” These days, I’m more about comfortability, functionality and the casual fit. I’ve got Sketchers, flip flops, sandals, snow boots, boots, ugg’s, Merrell’s (for hiking), etc.

    My everyday shoe is the NIKE FREE RUN +:
    http://www.nikespy.com/images/nike-frp2/nike-free-run-plus-2-6.jpg

    ^Highly recommended, they are super lightweight, it’s as if you aren’t even wearing any shoes.

  7. Thumb up 0

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    Those heels disguised as sneakers (topshop/marc options) are so funny to me, I just can’t help imagining them with those bball jersey dresses, they are like the same thing?

    This one time I found these beautiful, new, deadstock vintage purple and black reeboks at a thrift store for $4 and they were my strange tiny foot size because miracles happen, and then i left them at a friend’s house a coupla states away and when i got them back they’d worn them all summer, in the rain and to the beach and somehow ripped up the tongues and lining and they would never be the same. i don’t understand how people can just neglect shoes!

    I really like Keep sneakers, though they’re really expensive. The come in the best colors/patterns and also in kids sizes.

    nothing in the whole entire world is cuter than sneakers (and tims) made for infants.

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    Creative recs and Reebok high tops for me. Nothing better than a sharp outfit with matching or clashing kicks.

    And yes I squeeze my big ass into the skinniest pair of jeans/leggings and throw on those giant obnoxious kicks, and I feel good!

  9. Thumb up 0

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    So I’m a little chunky and I feel like my jeans don’t go good with the shoes I like so any advice on what kind of jeans? Or maybe just rock it with confidence?

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      Well what type of sneakers do you like to wear? My number 1 tip for rocking any type of straight/skinny leg jeans when you’re thick is to .go for as high a waist as possible. I dunno about anyone else but what makes me feel less than awesome is when I have a 360° muffin top. So I wear proper high waisted button up jeans, but under my tshirts etc, they hold me in where I feel I need it and create a nice curve.

      I also wear maternity jeans sometimes, just the early pregnancy type with an elasticated waistband, they look like normal jeans/jeggings. Those are mostly for being comfortable at work or on a plane, although I have worn them out dancing and they were awesome.

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      girl i’m chunky as hell and i wear straight legged/skinny black jeans all the time cuz they feel good to me. high waists make me feel like my ass is on my shoulders and other types of jeans make me feel like a lesbian from 1991…
      so wear what feels right.

      just a few tips:

      1) get them the right size. not too tight cuz then muffin top for sure.
      2) get them the right length so they stop right at the ankle or like two inches below the top of your hi tops.

      love u girl. u got this. Xo

  10. Thumb up 0

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    i wish the forums were up and running because i want some advice, but i don’t want to be annoying and ask for it on a completely unrelated article ;~;

  11. Thumb up 0

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    Save for the Nike 6′s and the Cons, those are some bfugly kicks. Try a little subtlety, ‘kay? Those colors are awful.

    And hello, where are the Vans? Surfers gotta represent.

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    This is kind of a side note but I put sneakers in my more masculine side of my wardrobe, but has anyone any tips for pulling off that whole look while being really tiny (5foot :’( ) and hourglass? I’m always afraid it will all be really unflattering or like I’ve stolen all my brothers clothes. I feel like if I was ever to do more masculine clothes properly I’d have to look like Shane or something.

    Also, I can’t believe your mum pulled that shoe thing. Holy shit :P

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      This is a tough one, but in my experience it mostly comes down to 1. trying on a lot of things without crying, and 2. finding what works for you and never letting it go.
      I’m a huge fan of Levi’s, because they without a doubt fit me better than any other jeans I’ve tried on, ever (Try their skinny jeans, both the curveID, and regular ones, because they fit differently/ are awesome).
      Dark washes will make your legs look longer/ more streamlined, if that’s what you’re trying to achieve.
      Shirts are harder because I think the little boys’ section is awesome, especially for hoodies.
      And seriously, don’t be afraid. If you try something on and it doesn’t work, you can just put it back, whistle a tune, and pretend it never happened :D
      Sorry if this was rambling/ unhelpful. I just have a lot of feelings about jeans/ sneakers/ punctuation.

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      Here, i’m an hour glass too and i recommend if you’re going for shirts, don’t be afraid of mens shirts, for some reason they fit better. they’re broader across the chest. if i buy womens shirts i find that i get that strainy-button popping thing across the boobal area. also look up how to alter the waist of a shirt/t shirt etc. it’s so easy and if you have a big rack and a small waist it’s the best trick you can learn for tailoring clothes.

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    my two favorites that i own are aldo men’s kicks with keyboard soles (the letters have, sadly, worn down) and my custom white leather chucks. i never appreciated wearing a size 12-13 shoe until I discovered sneakers.

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    just saying, if the only thing separating me and my lady is a fence and heels….

    well because i’m poor and shop at goodwill i wouldn’t cry too much if they got left behind :P

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    CONVERSE! I live for Converse shoes! …Or maybe I should say, I live IN Converse shoes. I even got some schnazzy, clod-hopper, dykey Chuck Taylor boots. They ain’t just for walkin’, man.

    Also, am I the only one who remembers the Jack Purcell sneakers that looked like bowling shoes? Why were those ever discontinued!? Whyyyyyy…

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    Oh girl, you have no idea how I feel about sneakers. I love them so much and I like to match them with my v-necks and skinny jeans. My kicks of choice are Onitsuka Tigers. They come in so many different colors, like white, yellow, and blue, are super lightweight and durable (but don’t wear them in the rain, if you got the ones with mesh). Because they come in so many colors, they can go with tons of different gender presentations/styles.

    My girlfriend rocks Saucony Women’s Jazz Sneakers and they too come in a smorgasbord of colors. Also both brands of sneakers are cheaper through 6pm.com Like, I used to pay $65+ for my tigers, but now I can get them for $40. Legit.

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    Your sweet sixteen was exactly like my Quinceañera, except I had chucks. My mom had to buy me new ones especially for this occasion as a slight reward for having to wear a dress all day, one I could not breathe in at that.

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    The only sneakers I currently wear (other than when I am ordered to wear other ‘running shoes’ to the gym or for working out) are Converse sneakers. I have two pairs, one high top and one low top and I love them. Hopefully soon I will be able to afford a silver pair. I have been wearing them in some form or another since 10th grade.

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    Reebok’s Freestyle Hi. That’s all I have to say. Best. Kicks. Ever.

    You know, for those days when I decide to brave the world without my ankle boots, cute flats, or heels.

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    Fun fact: the first sneaker was designed as to not make any noise when walking, bscly letting the wearer ‘sneak’ into rooms. Thus, the name ‘sneakers’.

    The only thing I can contribute is that I once forked over 60$ for T&S sneakers that I spent more time staring at than wearing

  21. Thumb up 0

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    so I almost exclusively wear sneakers, even at work–and apparently it makes me super queer. One day a kindergartener I teach looked me up and down, very seriously, and asked, “Are you a boy or a girl?”

    I had my standard gender-teaching-moment response all ready and said “Well, I’m female but I do like to dress the way a lot of boys do, and it’s ok for girls to have short hair,” etc.

    The kid interrupted me and said, “But you’re wearing BOYS’ SHOES!” Apparently Saucony Jazz is the new Doc Marten among kindergarteners?

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    Yay kicks! I always found kicks to be reliable indicators of people I want to know. Plus, you can always find something that fits, which helps us who are shopping challenged in the clothes department. I actually introduced myself to my now best friend by saying, “cool shoes.” Oh the versatility.

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    I’m a supra girl. They are so amazing and sky-high top. It makes me feel so badass when I’m everything but.

    My GF wears Varvatos Cons.

    I’m also a sucker for any sneakers with metal detailing. The more the better. And spikey. Probably the whole “badass” thing again.

    http://www.suprafootwear.com

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    I totally have Nike high-tops like the ones featured, multiple pairs.

    But I’m mostly commenting because I see a real need for an Autostraddle fashion piece–or series!–on wedding clothes. That is guest-of-a-wedding clothes. Consider: how to maximize visibility if you don’t get a plus one; tips for stylish butches; bringing out a your inner gender-queer; etc, etc. Ripe for a treatment, I’d say, along the lines of what Autostraddle once did for swimwear. or in any case a good excuse to run lots of different pics of hot girls in nice clothes. Have at, please. x

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    You know those Air Yeezys are fakes, right? That colorway does not exist. Please don’t buy anything from that website. All of their Air Yeezys are fakes. PS The real ones will cost you well over $1K.

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    Are there any kicks out there not made in China (/any other country with no decent labour laws)? Would love to have a collection but really don’t want to buy stuff not made ethically. Makes fashion tricky.

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