Brilliant white trainers were once perceived as a wardrobe staple for young people often disparaged as “chavs.” This season however, white trainers can be seen on the catwalks of Milan and on the feet of A-list actresses, models and even Duchesses. It also seems that in workplaces across the UK, donning white trainers for work is increasingly acceptable and en vogue.
French brand, Veja manufactures white trainers which are favoured by Royalty. In October 2018 Meghan, Duchess of Sussex opted to wear white Veja trainers to the Invictus Games when she joined Prince Harry on a tour of Australia and New Zeland. There is it seems, an ethical motivation behind wearing this brand. Veja insist that they respect ecological and fair trade conditions in the manufacturing of their merchandise.
More recently, Kate Middleton sported pristine white trainers by the Superga brand, at the Kings Cup Regatta on the Isle of White. Model Kendall Jenner, has been frequently photographed wearing white Kenneth Cole sneakers. While Victoria Beckham has been snapped pairing white Adidas trainers with her own high end fashion line.
This trend has inevitably filtered onto the Highstreet and consequently, increasing numbers of women are daring to sport white trainers in a variety of workplaces and social settings. The newfound popularity of this footwear among women is reflected in retail figures. High end store, John Lewis, reports a significant increase in demand for white trainers. Sales of their own brand have rocketed by 500% in the past year alone. Many of these white trainers are likely being purchased to be worn in a diversity of workplaces.
Melinda Gates is co-chair of the multibillion dollar Gates Foundation. Among its many goals, the foundation aims to empower women. Gates has praised women in the UK for showing “strength” in wearing trainers in the workplace. Gates berates herself for lacking the confidence to follow the fashion.
Despite the Royal seal of approval however, some women are reticent about following this trend. This trepidation is understandable because critics insist that despite the influence of the catwalks, white trainers are not appropriate for all work settings or events. Emma Thompson, for instance, faced harsh criticism for wearing white trainers to Buckingham Palace to receive her Damehood from the Duke of Cambridge in November 2018. Despite the fact that the sneakers were by Stella McCartney, Thompson was accused of a major fashion faux pas.
When it comes to white trainers and the workplace, the etiquette can be something of a minefield. There are some offices where this current fashion trend is now acceptable within the company dress code. In other work environments, such shoes may be somewhat frowned upon. The harshest critics have suggested that selecting white trainers to wear in the workplace, demonstrates a lack of commitment and indicates a failure to appreciate the gravity of one’s professional role.
So, before deciding on your footwear it is imperative to consider your company’s protocol and dress code. Afterall, when it comes to selecting shoes appropriate for the office, the last thing you want to do- is put your foot in it.
Posy by Paula Logan
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