Oh, the satisfying crunch of a Velcro sneaker! That very onomatopoeic crunnnnnch signifies easy, breezy, and no-nonsense comfort. But while the sound might suggest orthopedic bliss, the shoe itself? It’s the very definition of unsexy, practically visual birth control for your hooves. (Maybe that’s the reason it’s usually beloved by children or those of advanced years.)
I first got into Velcro sneakers thanks to my boyfriend, who is of nongeriatric age but is known to channel nursing-home chic in his style. Not only are his Velcro sneakers clunky, but they are also the color of day-old oatmeal and feature two massive Velcro straps. Yet there’s something seductive about their ease: No laborious lace tying, certainly no shoehorn needed. And boy, are they comfortable. It’s like slipping your feet into a delicious cloud, with a thousand cherubic fingertips massaging your heels!
The latter proved particularly intriguing given the state of my own feet, sore from excessive wearing of flimsy flip-flops and bruised by summer heels—so I started to do some research. Very few celebrities have ever worn the Velcro sneaker, even on the street, although I did find a fab photo of Mariah Carey wearing knee-high Velcro boots in 2006 outside of MTV’s TRL. Another fan? Hailey Bieber, who wore a pair to LAX in 2017. But what I noticed during my Velcro research is that they weren’t usually spotted on runways or street style galleries but in more of a dude world.
Curious to find out why, I sent out a general ask on my Instagram to see if any fellow fashion friends wore the footwear. The jury was harshly divided. Naturally, I received dozens of nos. Brynn Wallner of the watch hub Dimepiece jokingly told me I was “responsible for all the ugly clothes in New York.” (Hey, I’ll take what I can get.) Stylist Gabriella Karefa-Johnson offered a similar but more layered analysis, noting that Teva is the only exception. “Velcro shoes annoy me like Salomons annoy me,” she said. “It’s so obvious to me—the grasp at subversion and quirky weird-girl energy. Like, No. You don’t like hiking shoes.”
I understand Karefa-Johnson. I don’t want to cosplay in the Velcro-verse as an achy senior or like I’m stuck in a very uncool Sisyphean nightmare in the podiatrist’s waiting room. But while there are the standard clunky sneakers—hefty soles with encyclopedia-thick tongues, for example—there are some incredibly fashion-minded, outré Velcro sneakers out there now too.