Fashion & Style

Why is Everyone in Isolation Wearing the Same Sneakers?

Jeremy MoellerGetty Images

Despite not the whole “not going outside” thing, there seems to be a trend kicking around the Influencer sphere that’s been escalating in isolation. Scroll through Instagram and i becomes abundantly clear that, among things like banana bread and throwback vacation photos captioned “Remember places?”, New Balance sneakers are everywhere. Specifically, iterations of the OG dad shoe are clogging up my feed. It seems mid-quarantine, we’re neglecting all other footwear choices—besides slippers— in favor of NB soles.

The funny thing is that these shoes, specifically New Balance’s 990 v5s and 991s styles in gray, have been leading the trend for a minute (a 2019 advertisement read: “Worn by supermodels in London and dads in Ohio”). You probably recognize them from street style snaps, within your own community of actual fathers, or famously worn by Steve Jobs. They should have peaked by now, but isolation is increasing their stock. Why?

As the anti It-Shoe, the simplicity and accessibility of New Balance sneakers make it an effortless wardrobe choice given our fragile state. New Balances are quiet, yet comforting. Unassuming, yet supportive. They cradle your feet with the same gentle compassion you wish you could give yourself. They are not too chunky nor too slim, so the Goldilocks shape provides the perfect balance to loungewear: New Balances look arguably better with sweatpants than any other sneaker. These are the pacifying attributes we require mid-pandemic, both stylistically and otherwise. The shoe makes so much sense, I’ll even forgive influencers for not leaving their sneakers outside their house, or worse, wearing them in bed.

Beyond their emotional support, the aesthetic of these throwbacks are pleasantly forgettable, with all the technical qualities of a shoe worn by someone who has their podiatrist on speed dial. The soles are cushiony and won’t irritate your bunions after your allocated daily walk, which is followed promptly by a session of staring at the ceiling because Netflix doesn’t hit the same way it used to.

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Steve Jobs wearing the New Balance 993s in 2010.

Justin SullivanGetty Images

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John F. Kennedy Jr. p in 1997, not wearing New Balances, but don’t you think he should be?

Lawrence SchwartzwaldGetty Images

The New Balance 530 V2 is the hot new pick over the muted silver, so consider them if you want something flashier to offset your sweatpants (bonus points if you wear them with white crew socks). Or you can opt for the footwear brand’s collaboration with Aimé Leon Dore’s which conveniently dropped in March, just as we sheltered in place. My general rule of thumb for choosing a pair is that you shouldn’t be able to tell which year you bought them. If you can’t imagine them worn by a tech mogul or a man in his mid-fifties power walking through the suburbs, they’re not it.

These deceptively basic trainers share the same message: I’m barely keeping it together, but aren’t I cute? Instagram’s cozy girls have spoken.

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