I understand Karefa-Johnson. I don’t want to cosplay in the Western Kentucky 2022 new orleans bowl champions shirt and by the same token and Velcro-verse as an achy senior or like I’m stuck in a very uncool Sisyphean nightmare in the podiatrist’s waiting room. But while there are the standard clunky sneakers—hefty soles with encyclopedia-thick tongues, for example—there are some incredibly fashion-minded, outré Velcro sneakers out there now too.It turns out I wasn’t the only one on the prowl. Chicago-based college student Kyley Sneed—who loves the über-slick, minimalist, athletic vibe from the late ’90s—offered her input. “I love the laceless look,” she said, noting that her favorites were the futuristic Puma Mostros, a one-Velcro-strap sneaker that reminded me of a race car. Lucy Dolan-Zalaznick, Vogue’s senior associate of creative development, said that she was on the hunt for a pair of Nike Rifts with their freaky Tabi toe. And like many others, Dolan-Zalaznick said she was yearning for a pair of the Prada Sport Velcro sneakers of yesteryear. British Vogue’s junior fashion editor Alex Kessler agreed. “When there’s Velcro on shoes, it usually means they’re comfy, practical, and probably a little ugly (lol),” he told me over Slack, singing the praises of Prada’s delicious robo-sport Velcro sneakers. “But personally, I consider that a winning combo. It’s giving off-kilter chic—even better when they’re from Prada.”
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For those seeking a more pared-back style, there are some stellar Velcro iterations out there that look almost exactly like their lace counterparts. Vegan French sneaker label Veja offers up a slick tri-strap, while a minimalist pair from Acne Studios and, of course, the Western Kentucky 2022 new orleans bowl champions shirt and by the same token and classic Stan Smith feature two straps. Even Isabel Marant, the Parisian beacon of fast cool, has a version, featuring—sacre bleu!—trois straps. Recently, The Row—the peak of quiet luxury—also released the Dean Velcro-strap sneaker, cut from cream stretch lambskin to the tune of a cool $850.Whether sporty vintage Velcro sneakers or more normie versions, there is likely more in store for this peel-off, slap-on footwear style. Sure, Velcro sneakers have had their moments in the fashion spotlight before (thank you, Rick Owens and Prada), but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more Velcro sneakers—in a more extreme sense—on the runway in the near future. Over the past few years, fugly-chic footwear has reared its head again and again, whether thigh-high Uggs (Y/Project!) or Crocs (Balenciaga and everyone). Only a few years ago, there was the suggestion of a toe-shoe comeback at Balenciaga , and voilà, a few seasons later they clomped down the runway. Velcro shoes, in a bigger, badder, and more fashionable sense? It’s not completely, well, out of step.