The Evolution of the Sneaker from ExpatrordinaryAmsterdam


Twenty years ago I was warned. Don’t ever wear sneakers outside the house in European cities because everyone will peg you as an American!

I still remember these words today as I peruse my closet choosing what to wear. Americans sometimes get a bad rap for our choices in clothing and shoes, and perhaps it is well deserved. Many of us like to wear our gym/yoga clothes as everyday wear. Twenty years ago, this was a huge no no on city streets in Europe. And as far as clothing goes, this is still a big no no. I am sorry to share this with all my Lululemon fond friends back home, but when you come to visit me, you should be aware, that here in Europe, one does not wear gym clothes unless returning from the gym. One now does, however, happily wear sneakers!

Sneakers have surely evolved. I cannot help but stare in awe at the beautiful and diverse amount of sneakers I see on a daily basis on almost EVERYONE. Gorgeous colorful Nikes I have not even seen back home in the land of the Air Jordan. If any of you know me well, then you already understand my intense love of shoes and sneakers and boots and sandals….  To me, the amount of diverse choices in sneakers here is comparable to the American grocery store cereal aisle. Bright red and blue, bright blue and white, red and white, pink and green, orange and pink, yellow and blue, and multicolored varieties… it’s like a vibrant speckling of cool and lightweight footwear adorning the pathways of Amsterdam.

And it is not just the Nike brand. All the other popular brands are here in full force on feet large and small, like Adidas and New Balance and Converse. There are sneakers made by high-end designers showcasing storefronts as well. Sneakers would never have been on display in stores selling mod clothes and cool jackets twenty years ago. But, now, they have evolved to a sort of art form for the foot. Sneakers have been elevated to acceptable and praise worthy everyday footwear. And I want in! It should come as no surprise that three weeks into our new expat life, my daughter and I are happily and eagerly adorning our feet in our brand spanking new colorful sneakers as we tread the streets of the ‘dam. Perhaps it is the Europeans who were missing the boat twenty years ago and have learned something from us Americans.


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