Designer running shoes — A pair for everyone

The Colorado Statesman

I am in love. The second Google introduced us, I was smitten. I’ve heard talk of rekindling old romances via the Internet, but I never thought it would happen to me. Don’t give me any lip or any tongue or behave like a heel. I’m talking about crushing on the most adorable, colorful and comfy pair of sneakers ever designed by a ... well ... a designer.

DKNY “Ninja” sneakers — and Style Matters’ new love. No laces to tie; socks are optional.

These beauties emerged from the creative mind of Donna Karan for her popular DKNY line of shoes, clothing and accessories. The black, lemon yellow, hot pink and powder blue shades guarantee that these bad girls will go with almost everything in a fashionista’s closet.

State Senator Wendy Davis wore her pair of pink Mizuno sneakers for her filibuster. The sneakers became known as “The Wendys.”

This style of shoes is what Style Matters used to call slip-ons. People living in the Northeast call sneakers athletic shoes or tennis shoes. Brits call them “trainers,” South Africans refer to them as “tackies.” In some urban areas in the United States, the slang for sneakers is “kicks.” In Spanish English, Canadian English and Australian English the term is “runners.” The name “sneakers” originally referred to how quiet the rubber soles were on the ground. Someone wearing sneakers could “sneak up” on you, as I am sure you’ve guessed.

Sarah Palin’s Naughty Monkey red pumps sparked a buying frenzy.

Although most of us have an old pair moldering in the back of a closet, (a sorry part of an old New Year’s resolution to start jogging) how many know how designer sneakers and politics have teamed up. Style Matters was clueless until she heard about Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis. Sen. Davis is an attorney and Democratic politician from Fort Worth.

Last June, Davis held an 11-hour-long filibuster to block legislation that would create new abortion regulations in Texas. Her filibuster is credited with efforts by Dems to delay passage of the bill until after the midnight deadline.

What does a stylish fashionista/politician wear to a filibuster? Sen. Davis selected a pair of pink Mizuno Wave Rider 16 running shoes rather than dress shoes. According to filibuster rules, in order to hold the floor the senator was required to remain standing, without leaning on her desk or taking any breaks, including pauses to eat or use the bathroom. Her chair was removed when she began speaking. The Mizuno Wave Riders, now called “The Wendys,” became the number two shoe on Amazon and number one in women’s shoes following the filibuster. Fans of Davis and the shoe are touting the footwear’s contributions to the success of the political process.

Other female leaders have not fared as well in their choice of footwear. Who could forget Sarah Palin’s Naughty Monkey pumps at the Republican National Convention, held in St. Paul. When John McCain introduced her as his running mate, Palin strutted up to the podium in a pair of blood-red, peep-toe pumps with three-and-a-half-inch heels by Naughty Monkey, which is generally marketed to “women in their early to mid-20s who go clubbing,” according to a story in the Wall Street Journal at the time.

Former Mayor Wellington Webb holds up one of his trademark sneakers after walking the city and winning the 1991 mayoral campaign.

Denver is no stranger to the idea that the right shoes can make a successful political career. Back in 1991, our own former mayor, Wellington Webb, was running a rather weak mayoral campaign with low name recognition until he strapped on a pair of old fashioned basketball sneakers. The 6-foot 4-inch former college basketball player launched his “Sneaker Campaign” in which he walked door to door through a large portion of Denver, introducing himself as a relatively unknown candidate. Webb logged 210 miles on foot over one three-week period. He won 58 percent of the vote in the runoff election to become the new mayor of Denver.

Why the uptick in designer sneakers? Maybe designers have finally clued in to the fact that their target market can’t and won’t spend the day in 4-to 6-inch heels. And maybe they’re not buying the line that sales people give about the comfort of platform wedges: “They’re really not that high once you figure in the height of the front platform.” Yeah, and Jennifer Lopez didn’t fall on stage at the American Music Awards back in 2009 wearing a pair of Louboutin high heel pumps, while singing her hit: “I’m throwing on my Louboutins.” Who is throwing whom?

So, Stylish Readers, never underestimate the power of a timely pair of tennis shoes and how they can change your life. See you in the aisles.

In memoriam: Rosey’s at Park Meadows, still open downtown; Pine Creek, Paula’s. Three stores that brought badly needed diversity to the local market. We will miss you.

Judie Schwartz, AKA Style Matters, is the co-author of two best-selling books on the best places to shop in Colorado. Called “A Fashion-Lover’s Guide to the Best Shopping in Denver and Beyond,” the books are available at Schwartz presents image seminars to corporations on the importance of a business casual wardrobe and entertains conventioneers with talks on how to look great on a budget. She is also a wardrobe consultant. Schwartz has one husband, three children, no pets and small closets. She can be reached at:
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