UK Prime Minister causes online furor over shoe choice

LONDON   -   It’s been deemed the end of Adidas Sambas. Once hailed as the favourite shoe of Harry Styles, Kaia Gerber, Bella Hadid, Paul Mescal and even Rihanna, just to name a few, it’s now apparently all over for the 1950s three-striped sneaker. Why? Because UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was seen wearing a pair. In an Instagram video posted Monday, Sunak’s explanation of his Conservative government’s latest tax and childcare policies was to a large extent overshadowed by his “everyman” shoes. “The sambas, guess he’s one of us now,” read one comment. “His trainers really helped (the video) become easily understandable and relatable for me,” added another sarcastically. The British press were equally resistant to any sartorial strategy that might have been in play. “Yet another try-hard bid to appear relatable has backfired,” wrote journalist Michael Hogan for left-leaning national newspaper The Guardian. “In a bid to present himself as young and hip… Sunak took an eternally cool sneaker, and ruined it for everyone,” added British GQ. It’s a far cry from the public reaction another political leader received after being spotted in a pair of sneakers. In the summer of 2019, former president Barack Obama was seen at an Obama Foundation event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, wearing box-fresh Stan Smiths. The internet swooned in response, calling the look tasteful, playful and on-point. And when Kamala Harris began pounding the 2020 campaign trail in an assortment of Converse sneakers (Chuck Taylors in both leather and canvas, All Stars and even badge-adorned high tops), she was lauded for a brave subversion of the rules of political dress. So why aren’t Sunak’s Sambas striking the same chord? Firstly, context is everything. Obama was a conservative dresser during his presidency, in keeping with the traditional suits beloved by Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. Obama was known for his plain, dark suits and office-appropriate, lace-up shoes.  There was just one hallowed incident of a stylistic misjudgement: “Tan Suit Gate,” which was never to be repeated. In fact, his sneaker era only began years after he left the Oval Office.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt