A quick glance around campus reveals striking limestone buildings decorated with ivy, surrounded by effervescent green trees still holding onto their ripeness before the transition to a rich autumn amber. Students are back, bustling around the winding pathways of campus, throwing frisbees, and decked out in denim. The most apparent marker of the new school year, however, is what lies on the feet of almost every Queen’s student: white sneakers. Despite thousands of pairs of polar white leather slowly dulling, this is the one collegiate trend that has yet to fade.
How many pairs of white sneakers do you think there are currently roaming campus? Well let’s do some logical reasoning. According to Google, Queen’s has just over 24,000 students. Let’s say at any given time, half of them are physically on campus. Now, we know not everyone has white sneakers, but boy does it seem that way. As I write this, 8 of the 10 people in the CoGro line are wearing a variation of these ubiquitous kicks. So now we’re at 80% of 12,000, which means at any given time you could assume that there are 9,600 students rocking pairs of white sneakers. Not bad for an Arts student.
The nearly 10,000 fresh pairs kicking around campus vary, however. From classic Nike Air Force 1s or Adidas Stan Smiths to Allbirds, Campers, KSwiss, Reebok, the horrid Fila Disruptors, and designer sneakers new from SSENSE, the homogenous fashion choice can still bring a lot of flavour. So, here we’ll be dissecting the personality of each style to see how your sneakers speak for themselves.
At Queen’s, there’s a hierarchy of white shoes. The AF1s currently reign supreme, adorned by every Vancouver mans and girl who has a variation of QU | TO in their Instagram bio. They have become the staple for those who want a pair of white sneakers but don’t know where to begin. They define the safety zone of this trend – if you’ve got a pair, you’re going to fit in. Essentially, whether it’s at Stages or Stauff, you can’t go wrong.
Sitting on the outskirts but well within the trend zone are the Nike Air Max and Adidas Stan Smith. They were the latest and greatest a couple years back, only to be eclipsed by the AF1s in recent seasons. These classics equate to the chill girl of the group: while they are still widely popular and on trend, the fashion world has gone for an upgrade. It’s all about being content with what you have and what is around you – no need to be asking for more.
This leads us to what some credit the beginning of the chunky white shoe trend: Fila Disruptors. A truly divisive shoe, the sneaker is widely recognized for its zig-zagged platform sole and F on the tongue. Wearing this pair is a statement, the ‘fit is demanding to be seen and admired. These aren’t for the faint-hearted. If you own a pair of these, we truly respect your dedication to the game.
In contrast to that, there’s the Converse Chuck Taylor, both high and low top. A slimmer shoe – both in width and in the sole – but with popularity spanning the ages. It’s not necessarily on-trend, but certainly has not gone out of style and deserves credit for the hard work it puts in to pulling together our outfits. With a pair like these, one can immediately associate imagery of vintage band shirts and trips to Talize. Chucks stick to the outskirts of the trend without being too loud; a down-to-earth rebel.
Now we get into the interesting part: off-brand but on-trend. The mainstream mass-market companies may saturate our sight line, but there are a lot of purchases that hold their ground. Common Projects, Vejas, Campers, Allbirds, and KSwiss all produce a solid alternative to the current trend mainstays. Whether these brands offer better prices, sustainability, or just a style that resonates with you, it takes a conscious choice to go against the grain on such a prominent trend. These owners like to be unique, and while they may appear to fit in, I guarantee after a simple conversation you will find a myriad of reasons to why they stand out.
If you’re a sneakerhead, or covering campus in Gucci or Alexander McQueen, the only semi-accurate assumption that can be made about your shopping psyche is that you care, and have the means to care, about your shoes. It becomes a representation of a passion, hobby, or perhaps a persona that you are trying to exude to others. I see you, acknowledge you, appreciate you, and hope that you can keep them white.
With every pair of white shoes always comes a moment where they no longer look like they did when they first arrived in the box. If you religiously clean your AF1s, Stans or the like to the point they are still polar, then you also fall into the aforementioned category. This is dedication, and I salute you for doing the most.
Overall, we can extrapolate that Queen’s students love their white shoes almost as much as they love Stages on a Thursday. I challenge you to count how many pairs you see the next time you’re on campus, and whether or not you agree with the personalities we found. Have another trend you want us to dissect? Send us a DM. Just remember, try not to leave your white shoes at the door of a pre, because you might not walk home with the same pair.
Photos by Noelle Ochocinski
Jane Bradshaw is the Editor-in-Chief for MUSE Magazine.