My grandmother has worn the same sneakers for as long as I can remember.
She wears them on any given occasion: weekly doctors’ appointments, grocery shopping endeavors, and especially family gatherings. They’re the only shoes she ever wants to walk in.
As a young girl, I never noticed anything prominent about them; there was no pizzazz, no éclat. The only memorable part to me was the big N, which stood for New Balance, along with the comfort they brought her to ease the tiring trips. That and they were always idiosyncratic to her, which made them special to me.
Throughout the next ten years, they remained just that in my mind, with the mere connotation of her and the people I served while waitressing at a nursing home. I couldn’t help but classify them in what I thought would be an inescapable age bracket.
This is why when rummaging for the next trend through my grandma’s hand-me-downs, I never once thought that her everyday shoes would be the same shoes that would be worn by so many within the next few years.
Today, most trends form from social media. Oftentimes, I will see someone wearing something unique or eccentric on platforms like TikTok which makes me want to buy it. I think it is a part of human nature to desire something new for us; to frequently want to restart.
The only problem with trends is that the value starts to vanish through popularization. And I don’t mean this qualitatively. The price instead rises with its high demand, and the items start to become impossible to find.
This is exactly what her shoes did.
I started seeing celebrities post in them, and people around my campus wearing them while walking to class. My seventeen-year-old sister was now even wearing them out just as frequently.
And instantaneously, the once fifty-dollar shoes were now being sold for over one hundred dollars. It was then that I wished they could have been gatekept. Or at least, lesser-known.
I feel this way about a lot of things that build up familiarization. It is not only price that makes them lose value for us, but also, their delicacy. I love underground bands the same way I love my secret, quiet spots around Boston to read. The same way I loved the old connotations of my grandma’s shoes. It’s not that I do not think there is joy in new appreciation, but I think there’s value in the undiscovered. I loved the way it was unsung. And I loved the secretive nature to it, as if it’s only something you and that other have that no one else can interrupt or change. It is instead for once, what feels unmapped. It’s special.
But trends usually appear in flashes. It’s transitory, with the shelves consistently evolving into the next seasons. So inevitably the shoes will wear out and be replaced. Well, never by my grandma of course.