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Chunky Sneakers In! Discomfort Out!

In late Imperial China, women used foot binding techniques to make their feet as small and dainty as possible. According to Wikipedia, bound feet were considered “a status symbol and a mark of beauty.” However, in the twentieth century United States, the itty-bitty shoe size that was so highly valued in 19th century China is being swapped for fat, chunky sneakers!

You have most likely seen Nike’s Air Force 1s on celebrities from Kendall Jenner to Rihanna (check out how they styled them here). This popular shoe trend has everyone hooked: the shoes are easy to match with outfits and they’re super comfortable. 

Another shoe trend on the horizon are Converse’s Chuck Taylor All Star Luggeds. Sold out in almost all sizes on Converse’s website, these shoes have risen to popularity through Pinterest and other social media outlets. I have seen these shoes recently on the Northwestern campus in bright orange, black and white! 

So how did we go from wanting the prettiest, smallest feet to big, bold and bulky feet? The rise of athleisure as an acceptable style during the last ten years has definitely played a part. People have a desire for comfortable, cute and current clothes, and athleisure has embraced these values. It is now acceptable in the “rules of fashion” to wear a dress with sneakers, when it was not necessarily “allowed” a decade ago. In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic has inspired many to embrace cozy clothes.

With the rise of TikTok and micro-trends, fashion phases in and out much faster than before. However, I do believe that chunky shoes are here to stay. Comfort is a crucial aspect of fashion!  

Chunky sneakers enable wearers to celebrate their feet, not break bones to hide them!

Evelyn Mulchrone

Northwestern '25

Evelyn is a theatre major at Northwestern University from Chicago’s South Loop. She loves going out to restaurants, riding Peloton, and indulging in her sweet tooth. When she is not busy with schoolwork and HerCampus, you can find her going for a lakeside walk, performing in a musical, reading, or spending time de-stressing with friends!
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