Day-glo shoes are the next big hair

This blog arrives possessed by the curmudgeon spirit of Andy Rooney, where I find myself admitting this current invasion of day-glo, neon-colored athletic shoes just reminds me how those fashion fads we rush to embrace one day, can become shockingly embarrassing by the next decade.

Sure, I get it. White or black sneakers never really went with anything else in your ensemble either, so if you’re going to clash, you might as well clash BIG. And nothing clashes BIGGER with anything you’re wearing than a nice fat pair of day-glo electric chartreuse running shoes. Shoes that don’t just make a fashion statement, they SCREAM one. It goes something like this: “I just paid $150 for a pair of kick-around shoes that will immediately distract you from the fact that the rest of my ensemble came off the rack at Target.”

I kids. Or, for you boomers; I Keds.

But remember Nehru jackets and bell bottoms from the 70’s? Or how about big hair, porno moustaches, wide lapels and skinny ties from the 80s? Oh, wait, this just in: Skinny ties are BACK in again. And so are skinny lapels, tucking in your shirt, and wearing a suit that is pinched at the second button up so it accentuates… what? That you’re busting at the gut if you’re not a starving television personality?

Now imagine ten years from now looking back at neon-colored sneakers that people were paying more than $150 for. I can remember once paying $120 for a pair of high-top Air Nikes, but at least those were supposed to help a white man defy gravity and dunk a basketball. Sadly, not only did they not help me dunk, but they fell apart in less than three months. I had to send them back to the Nike factory, which, forgive the reminder, is probably a sweat shop somewhere in Indonesia paying kids ten cents an hour. Even sadder now is the fact those kids are now probably going blind stitching and staring bug-eyed at day-glo fabric all day.

If you’ve been to a rave lately (so late 90s, or early 00s), no doubt your shoes look great dancing around by themselves under a purple UV light while Skrillex does the same thing to your ears that your shoes do for your feet. But if you’re walking around day-to-day in these shoes, here’s the dirty little secret… day-glo sneakers really look bad when they get dirty. Not only do they lose their glow, it just seems to accentuate the effect of making them look… kind of gross.

An old, scuffed pair of white tennis shoes somehow just pegged you as somebody who got good economical use out of your shoes and were proud of where they had taken you and how far. But dirt and wear on day-glo shoes tarnishes the glow, so to speak. They only seem to say, “I’m not quite ready or cash-rich enough to rush out and buy a gleaming bright new pair yet, so bear with me on this pair that looks like I swallowed plutonium and vomited all over my shoes.”

As far as fads go for pioneer trend-setters, I guess day-glo athletic shoes are silly, but ultimately harmless. Cops are sure to love them. If pants hanging around your knees doesn’t slow you down enough for the police to tackle your underwear-baring ass, now they can just chase you down following the streaking phosphorescent glow of your shoes in the dark.

— A. Wayne Carter

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