Trainers are both ubiquitous and idiosyncratic; they are a universal and symbolic part of the modern-day wardrobe. Sneaking Into Fashion is an exhibition that presents the story behind the contemporary trainer. It tracks the journey from simple generic gym plimsoll into the innovative and beautiful fashion must-have it has become.
In revealing this technological, cultural and aesthetic journey, the exhibition explores the trainer’s relationship with sports, popular culture, art, design and fashion. The exhibition looks at the symbiotic relationship between the trainer and popular culture. It presents revolutionary examples of craftsmanship. It is hard to imagine life without the abundant choice of pumps, cushioning, materials, colour-ways and laces. The trainer has many uses and guises. Wearers from school children to sporting legends to musicians to catwalk models, the trainer captures the zeitgeist.
The trainer bridges gaps, social and economic. It’s admirable as its roots are interlaced with technological advancements, with manufacturers always striving to make a better, faster, comfier shoe. With the advent of competitive branding the trainer has become ever more associated with identity. Its tribal associations make the individual choice of trainer a significant statement. Celebrity endorsement has fed into the desire of the ordinary person to take on some of the magic of their particular hero.
The gap between fashion and sport has been continually narrowing. With this year’s Olympics and high fashion’s appropriation of the sport shoe another moment in the trainer’s history has been manifested.