The pandemic and its loungewear-dominated fashion has made all of us creatures of comfort, and even gradual openings of 2021 couldn’t change that. And for good reason.
Staying indoors for nearly two years has allowed us to understand that a statement ensemble doesn’t necessarily mean compromising comfort. From oversized clothing to the omnipresence of ‘loungerie’ (lingerie meets loungewear), updated athleisure and comfortable but highly hyped sneakers, we have seen it all, and we’re holding onto it even as we tiptoe into another new normal, now threatened by Omicron.
And even though the glorious reign of our pyjamas may have come to a (much-needed) end, comfort continues to reign, redefining how we approach our dressy ethnic outfits. Many, including Bollywood celebs and sneaker influencers, chose to ditch the usual heels and juttis with traditional outfits for a pair of sneakers, setting off a trend that is now on the up and up.
Rajkummar Rao and Patralekhaa, whose wedding attire were the talk of the town, made for a fashion-forward couple as they set massive goals in comfy sneakers with their co-ordinated white outfits for the engagement ceremony.
On the occasion of a friend’s wedding, Ludo actor Sanya Malhotra was dressed in a vibrant, traditional purple sari complete with a pearl choker, stunning earrings, and even a gajra. And as traditional as her outfit was, her choice of footwear was anything but. Sanya opted for a pair of Nike sneakers in complimentary red and blue colours against a white, presumably for dancing it away at the ceremony.
Actor Kyrstle D’Souza, at friend Anushka Ranjan’s wedding, paired a powder blue lehenga with white and metallic gold sneakers that she proudly showed off to the paps. And why not? It’s trendy, it’s comfy, and it’s definitely high on the style factor.
Rhea Kapoor, who swims against the tide and sets her own trends, had already set a style precedent when she attended her sister Sonam Kapoor and sneakerhead brother-in-law Anand Ahuja’s mehendi ceremony decked in a white and golden lehenga with a pair of white Nike kicks, and recently, with an Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla lehenga.
Swara Bhaskar, who was dressed in a Mayyur Girotra embellished and embroidered lehenga, had dancing (among other) duties as the bridesmaid at her sister’s wedding. She was dressed for the occasion in a twirl-worthy lehenga and sneakers. It was her stylist Priyanka Yadav’s decision. “I know and feel the pain that women go through when they wear heels at weddings or otherwise. Since the look was for sangeet night, I just wanted Swara to be comfortable and dance the night away, to enjoy the moment without any hassle,” she said.
Swara was not wearing just any pair of sneakers. Hers was a velvet pair with gota work from The Saree Sneakers, customised with embroidery and fabric patches to match the colour palette of the lehenga.
“Sneakers with Indian outfits has been there for a while, but since a lot of celebs have been wearing it more often now, I definitely see it becoming a trend in 2022. I feel in the coming times, more people will opt comfort rather than being in pain all night and not being able to enjoy,” said Yadav.
Tasha Rohmetra, assistant to the CEO at Mainstreet Marketplace, was tasked with a lot of responsibilities at her sister’s wedding, which only catalysed her decision to put her best foot forward in a pair of Air Force 1s. “Sneakers just seemed like the smarter and more comfortable option as opposed to heels or juttis,” she said.
Vishakha Rajani agreed. Being a ‘sneakerhead’, fashion for her is equal to comfort, so pairing her sneakers with her lehenga was a no-brainer. “I was flaunting my sneakers because they’re super comfortable. Mine had a little bit of sheen on the logo, so it styled well better than the other everyday sneakers.” In fact, Rajani also shared that she wants to wear a pair of Gucci sneakers to her wedding day, no matter when that might be. “I don’t care if the lehenga is designer or not, but I want Gucci sneakers.”
That’s exactly what Shivani Boruah, a streetwear and sneaker influencer, did on her wedding day. She was clad in a traditional Assamese mekhela but sneakers were her way of infusing her style into traditions. “Sneakers are a part of my lifestyle. For my wedding, I wanted to go for my personal style rather than that of a traditional bride in heels or juttis which is why my husband and I decided to match our sneakers – AIR JORDAN 4 ‘BRED’ – for our court marriage and embroidered Converse Sneakers for our wedding reception. My husband’s sneakers are by Converse X Bandulu whereas mine are Converse Run Star Hike’s customised by my best friend to match my Assamese wedding saree of white with golden and red zari work.”
Men, too, seem to be jumping on the bandwagon, much like Karan Khatri, a Mumbai-based consultant and influencer, who said “for people, it has always been about standing out more than comfort. Why I see this trend emerging is because it merges both of those into one.” He, too, emphasised on the comfort factor. “At the end of it, no matter what you choose to wear or be, what matters is how comfortable you feel in it.”
These aren’t just isolated cases of sartorial preference. Vedant Lamba, founder of The Mainstreet Marketplace, said there’s been an uptick in the number of customers who have sought sneakers that pair well with traditional outfits. “We’ve seen people wear the Supreme Air Force 1s, as they look sufficiently neutral but at the same time are the product of a hype collab. We’ve also seen people rock the Union LA x Jordan 4s in the Guava Ice colorway as it fits the festive vibe with it’s pink and blue tones.”
Shrutee Kasat, founder and creative director of The Saree Sneakers agreed that “the acceptance of sneakers in the Indian wear segment is growing each day”. “Many brides have come looking for us just because they wanted to wear sneakers on their big day. Earlier, people were a little skeptical, but last year has been great for us. We have had wedding clients with three generations wearing our sneakers.”
Her brand, founded in 2019, customises sneakers for traditional outfits with embroidery styles. “Our clients have all sorts of requests. Matching the sneakers with their outfits is a popular trend. The other ones are having their initials, names, hashtags, wedding dates, etc. embroidered on them.”
If you, too, are a comfort-first kind of a fashionista, Boruah has styling tips for you to pick the right pair for your lehenga, sari, or salwar suit: “When it comes to styling, one can keep a note of the fit of the outfit as a whole. For example, for sherwani or kurta with dhoti, sleek sneakers such as adidas Originals Stan Smith, AIR JORDAN 1’s, Converse Chuck 70 make a perfect pair. For sari, lehenga, sharara etc, the fit of the apparel and color combination should be kept in mind. Sneakers like Air Force 1’s, Converse Run Star Hike’s, Puma Cali or Mayze look good with almost all kinds of outfits.”