Photo Story: Shoes on Campus

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Sneakerheads, lovers of those red bottom shoes, chaco-holics. You can tell a lot about someone from the shoes they wear. Yes, shoes protect our feet from the elements, saving us from scratches and bruises. But shoes aren’t just practical; shoes are a form of self-expression and a celebration of fashion.

U de M students take their shoes very seriously. Whether they’re rushing to class in a pair of Nike Air Force 1s or relaxing on the Diag in a pair of Chacos, Michigan students take pride in their footwear.

When I set out to photograph student shoes, I expected sneakers to be the most popular shoes. As you might expect, athletic shoes are a student must-have for physical activity and exercise. “I bought my sneakers in Miami because I wanted to go for a run and forgot my running shoes at home,” said Annabelle Phillips, a sophomore at the School of Information.

Although sports shoes are designed to provide you with adequate comfort and support during exercise, they have also revolutionized the fashion industry. Converse were originally launched as basketball shoes in 1917, but have since become a must-have fashion item. “These are the Earth Day shoes from Converse that dropped on Earth Day,” said Mariyah Kapuswal, Senior School of Public Health.

At Ross, MBA student Becky Epstein showed off her candy pink high tops. “These shoes are really special to me! I really like basketball shoes and I feel better when I wear them,” Epstein said.

Shoes allow individuals to show off their personality. “These have bees on them with flowers. I thought they were really pretty,” said Ross Freshman Daniel Newbold. The fun design adds a touch of personality to the everyday sneaker.

Additionally, shoes allow individuals to be part of subcultures and identities. “It’s a great way to represent Michigan corn and blue,” said Jackson Roth, SMTD and LSA Senior. His ‘Michigan’ Nike Dunk Lows make him feel like a Michigan Wolverine.

Talking about shoes would not be complete without discussing fashion and trends. Shoes can make or break an outfit, and students go to great lengths to style their shoes. “These are the most painful shoes to break of any shoe I’ve ever owned,” said third-year law student Alora Fleenary. Sometimes fashion comes before practicality.

Many students opt for a timeless and established aesthetic. From what I observed, the brand most worn by students was Nike, which offers a classic, clean look that can be paired with any outfit.

You can find just about any brand and style of shoe on campus. Shoes are not just a way to protect our feet; they are also a means of self-expression.

Just look down and see for yourself what student shoes on campus are telling you.

Staff photographer José Brenes can be reached at [email protected]


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