Loathe: Running Shoes

running shoes, sportswear, athletic wear, Nike

Why is it that no major sports brand makes an attractive, discreet running shoe?

Ok, I have a major bone to pick with all brands that make athletic running shoes. Last week, I bought a new pair of running shoes, and walked out the of store with the most hideous pair of shoes I have ever owned. But it is not like I had much of a choice, it was either gray and pink, or neon orange and white, or some other heinous combination of ugly colours no self-respecting person would wear in real life.

Why is it that we can now shop from a huge selection of somewhat stylish, somewhat flattering workout clothing, but good looking, functional athletic shoes are impossible to find? And my main question is, WHY CAN’T WE BUY RUNNING SHOES IN PLAIN BLACK????????

We can buy yoga pants in black. We can buy t-shirts in black. We can buy running jackets in black. We can buy running socks in black. But why do running shoes have to be yellow and pink and orange? Why? Why? Why?

Honestly, I need someone to explain this to me. I stood in the store, and faced a wall of bright, ugly, mismatched colours, and thought to myself, is it so difficult to make a functional product that is also stylish? Running shoes are hideous enough as it is, so why do they need to be in ugly colours, too? And even if there are people out there that DO want yellow and green running shoes, could there not AT LEAST be a few options for people like me who would just like running shoes in black and dark grey? I don’t understand it. Can someone help me here? It just DOES NOT make sense.

Images from Sportchek.

  • Roshh Ko

    I’ve never really thought about it before. I think it is because the major brands – Nike, Adidas, etc. – are the only ones that make something people would wear for a long time (and that it would be comfortable, because those shoes are definitely comfortable). 

    It is not the same story with clothing – we have Prada, Gucci and Armani but they are not the only ones. There are smaller companies and emerging designers every single day that enlarge our choice in a way that broadens the types of clothing we can buy- in terms of color, proportions and ideas. We don’t have “running shoe designers” and there’s definitely place for some. I think this is the key to change the situation.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Actually, Nike and Adidas do make some pretty cool shoes (although, very few in plain black) but when looking for a proper running shoe, one which is suitable for running long distances and provides excellent support during activities that involve impact, it is impossible to find something good looking. It is depressing.

  • Rudolf Seabra

    You would be shocked by the attire of some (actually too many) men in Brazil. Running shoes, yes, those, awful, colorful, yucky, plain bad, with jeans (or cargo shorts) and a t-shirt by abercrombie, aeropostale, or hollister, occasionally armani xchange, or jeans (one of his awful diffusion lines)(on the other hand, why can’t armani just stick to emporio and collection? he is so good, so refined at those, and yet he has put himself down by dressing the trashiest kind of upper middle class/aspirant douchebags possible). Yeah, and in some cases, the evening version would be the same shoes, a different jeans, and, wait for it: no shirt. Shirtless. With a v-neck or a polo that is taken off at the minute of arrival and put at the waist or wrapped at the arm. It’s a festival of tackiness, it is occasionally just plain laughable.

  • Jasper

    i totally know what you mean and it is really baffling. i remember doing the same, buying runners and there was either a rancid orange, a fluorescent yellow pair that looked like tennis ball because it was contrasted with a dark green details, or a black pair that weren’t even nice in a basic way. they were all hideous and i ended up going with the fluorescent yellow ones for no good reason other than they were all so bad so i just went with the kookiest one! 

    however that was more than 4 years ago and since then i have gotten better at dealing with the whole running shoes thing. there are some asics/new balances out there that are really nice especially if you’re going for that suburban chic look. not even joking, but i don’t think that’s really your style haha
    stefano pilati in new balances: naomicampbell4thjuly.jpg 

    suburban chic: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27191882@N03/4098172109/these aren’t super modern runners with the ridiculous teeth-like/wavy bottoms or fancy shocks, but i’m sure they’d do great for style and casual exercising. i personally think the majority of mainstream runners especially from nike/reebok are complete bullshit in terms of their actual performance benefits though.teeth-like bottomed nikes: Nike-Free-run-2012-Men-Grey-Purple.jpg

  • Roshh Ko

    They do make cool shoes but the coolest ones are not exactly running-suitable 😀 

    Redecorate a shoe, paint it in black, I don’t know what else you can do 😀

  • http://trendmenu.blogspot.com/ carol

    tell me about it… have been trying unsucessfully to find a plain black pair of running shoes ever since, i dunno, i was 15. my guess would be they assume EVERYONE runs at night, on a badly lit street, so the shoes have to be as attention-seeking and light reflective as possible. i have considered buying a graffiti art spray paint can and just painting it all black, but my guess is it would look equally horrendous. plus i don’t want to do this and then have to stay with these crappy shoes for years… with the neon ones, at least everyone else is obliged to wear them as well, so people end up not noticing. my jet paint crappy shoe i’m sure everyone will notice. :)

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

     I’ve now been told that apparently you can get all black ones at Nike id, but I won’t order shoes online without trying them on first. Running shoes MUST fit properly, so it somethign I won’t order online.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

     Suburban chic is not my style 😉 , and I won’t settle for a shoe that isn’t top notch when it comes to support and fit, so it has to be a good looking technical shoe. Which does not really seem to exist… or at least, there aren’t a lot of them.

  • http://trendmenu.blogspot.com/ carol

     oh, and still, they look awful. i just wish they made a simple running shoe, all black. no white, no colours, no nothing. why is this SO HARD? /sigh

  • Kristine

     I found a great pair of New Balance shoes in all black a couple years ago because I felt the same way.  I only wanted all black, discrete shoes.  They are super comfortable and I love them.  Maybe try New Balance.  I know they have a flagship store somewhere in Vancouver. 

  • Lil Miz Sara

    Tell me about it! I have been sticking to my old, almost worn out all-awhite shoes and putting off buying new sports shoes for like what.. 5 years now cause all the colors are so hideous! and worse, i like really sleek, comfortable shoes but all those i’ve seen coming out of nike and adidas are so chunky and huge =/ it took me awhile but i managed to find a all white with tiny light blue streaks at a nike sale years ago. 

  • Drcc1223

    Wish I could help!!! I wear a narrow and the “good” colors never come in 2A. They are usually in white which gets dirty quickly and only makes your foot look bigger!

  • helzee

    I found this after searching on Google: “Why do running shoes have terrible color schemes?” I MEAN SERIOUSLY, I was just out looking for some competition shoes from brooks and the shoe that I wanted only came in one color scheme :blue,yellow,white. As a graphic designer myself (it’s only a hobby but still), I don’t know how anyone designing shoes could come up with such a choice of colors… god dammit.

  • Alex B

    So i stumbled upon this entry while on a quest for some not so hideous athletic shoes… So far ive found one pair of asics which passed my simple/not bulky athletic shoes test. Here’s a link http://www.roadrunnersports.com/rrs/products/ASW2916/?cc=GYRBYW hopefully this helps( i do realize this post is a couple months old, but better late than never).

    P.S. I do really like the grey/ruby ones…..if only they made them for men.

  • Cheryl W.

    My tennis shoes are white with a grey strip but I guess that’s a legacy of oldschool tennis and Wimbledon’s white uniform fule. Also, market gap, anyone? *wink wink*

  • vm2

    I would love to have the choice for colored running shoes. I wear a size mens 14 shoe (yes, I’m a girl) and the only ones in the store were plain grey and black. I hate them.