I remember the last time I fell in love. The year was 2011.
The shoe? A sneaker… with a twist.
The world’s fashion elite had already witnessed the gradual ascent of the modest sneaker onto the most prestigious runways, starting with Gucci in the 1980s. Thanks to reimagined styles by Prada and Lanvin, the sneaker had walked its way into the realm of luxury fashion with no apparent intentions of leaving anytime soon. French fashion designer Isabel Marant would certainly make sure of that. But something was missing from the traditionally male-oriented shoe.
Enter the ‘Bekket’, a beautiful high top with a tri-strapped Velcro front and sleek design lines trimmed with suede that took kick couture (and our ongoing love affair with sneakers) to literally new heights. For the first time ever, concealed within a pair of chic sneaks was a five-centimetre wedge, an ingeniously feminine addition to the humble high top. Hello height, slimmed legs and new levels of inner sass!
What inspired such simple genius? A #gamechanger after our own hearts, the interesting origins of these modern classics actually stem back to Marant’s youth. “It’s something I did since I was a teenager,” Marant told Fashionista.com, “I would cut up cork and put pieces of cork into my sneakers because I wanted to look taller. And I always thought about this, what I was doing when I was young, and I thought I should really achieve something around this idea. Sneakers are so comfortable but at the same time it’s not very elegant. To have a little heel in it makes a difference, it gives you legs—I mean, I know women, I am a woman, so I know what we are searching for!”
Cue cultish frenzy, largely attributable to Queen Bey a.k.a. Beyoncé, who sported the ‘sneals’ (that’s ‘sneaker heels’ in kick code) in the video for her 2011 hit ‘Love on Top’ as well as many of her off-duty outfits. Top bloggers Chiara Ferragni from The Blonde Salad and Leandra Medine from The Man Repeller were quick to adopt the shoe and the celeb cool girl crowd was hot on their wedged heels, with Miranda Kerr, Jessica Alba and Alessandra Ambrosio snapped working their kicks into their killer street style ensembles.
Marant release seasonal variations of the ‘Bekket’ each year and thanks to its crossover appeal, both lifestyle and sporting shoe brands began following suit with wedged sneaker styles. If you’ve ever walked tall in a pair of Nike Dunk Sky Highs or a Reebok Freestyle Hi Wedges, or any wedged kick for that matter, you can thank Marant for that.
“It’s always about bringing self-confidence,” Marant told Fashionista.com “I’m like every woman, so I try to work on how to look slimmer or how to look taller but not being overdressed. I think most of the time when you dress in the morning, you go towards something that’s very pretty but at the end you say, ‘Ah, no,’ I’m having a hard day, I need to have something easy that I’m not afraid to break.’ It’s a balance of fashion and a way of life.”