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Sneaker Series: The Evolution Of Gucci

Sneaker Series: The Evolution Of Gucci

When the Gucci Ace hit the market a couple of years ago, sneakerheads and devotees of the luxe Italian brand across the globe went wild. The launch of the house’s signature low top sneaker was the natural next-step in its footwear offering, and its most recent launch, the Gucci Rhyton Runner, has proved an instant hit with the fash-pack and streetwear set alike. Here, we chart the epic rise of sneakers at the house of Gucci.

The pervasiveness of sportswear in the upper echelons of fashion is not a new phenomenon, and sneakers have for some time been one of the coolest and most accessible forms of luxury style. With trainers and sports clothing both cornerstones of streetwear and luxury streetwear now fashion’s hottest ticket (just look at Off-White and Virgil Abloh’s recent appointment at Louis Vuitton), Gucci’s expanding trainer collection comes as no surprise. There are now as many trainers as loafers and track tops as there are tulle gowns on the Gucci runway. And long may it last.

At a time when the hype around a sneaker launch can reach Spice-mania levels of fever pitch, luxury trainers have become the norm and are as much (if not more) a marker of taste and directionality as the latest It-bag or stiletto heel. However, it wasn’t so long ago that trainers were the reserve of football pitches, P.E. classes and teens loitering in the local park. Their rise in popularity and acceptance in circles where they were once disdained (they now appear on dress codes for even the most exclusive restaurants and clubs) reflects a changing society that values functionality, comfort and style over conservative notions of propriety and sophistication.

Gucci New Ace sneakers
Gucci New Ace sneakers

In some ways we’ve come full circle. The first ever sneakers were expensive and only for the upper classes who could afford the luxury of leisure time. However, advances in technology and the popularisation of competitive sport at the beginning of the 20th century saw their purpose become purely athletic. The humble trainer’s ascent from fitness shoe to high fashion staple kicked off again in earnest during the ‘70s when sports brands designed sneakers to look as good on the dance floor as they did the track. Thank god for disco. But, as with any fashion, their ubiquity spelled their downfall. No-one wants commonplace kicks and years passed before they became relevant on the runway again. Now, with fashion houses like Gucci making styles more radical than ever (see: the ugly trainer trend) and the exclusivity of certain models, our appetite for luxury trainers has become insatiable.

Gucci was originally a luxury leather-goods maker, famed for its hand-made luggage and iconic horsebit loafers. Not sportswear. That said, it had always been a champion of leisure, and what are sneakers for but down time? Pioneering as ever, Gucci led the charge and held the torch for high-end trainers with the launch of the first luxury sneaker. The Gucci Tennis, their original style, was introduced in 1984 amongst the perms and spandex and excess of a decade that gave birth to Miami Vice and Madonna. The Tennis had Gucci printed on the tongue and rubberised soles and stripes that mimicked their famous Gucci Web. Rarely if ever used for their namesake purpose, they were as much a status symbol as the Porsche in the drive and marked the dawn of a new era, one where wearing trainers for anything other than sport was totally acceptable. Less about performance, more about posing. And so our obsession began.

Gucci New Ace sneakers
Gucci New Ace sneakers

Now, Gucci’s sneaker offering spans low-tops, high-tops, slip-ons and everything in-between. The Ace in its various incarnations ranges from minimalism to full, whacked-out-and-reckless maximalist abandon. Head honcho Alessandro Michele’s slim Falacer silhouette is diminutive in size and closely resembles authentic-retro track trainers. At the other end of the spectrum, the Rhyton’s gargantuan proportions make them a must-have amongst the trend-savvy street style set and they’re so ‘of the moment’ it almost hurts. Rest assured that when you invest in our own pair of Gucci trainers, the maison’s luxe Italian heritage will permeate every aspect of their design. Each carries the unmistakable stamp of Gucci.