Balenciaga has dominated the luxury sneaker market ever since the release of its sock-like Speed shoe and chunky Triple S model. Yet the brand’s past sneakers, adopted mainly by celebrities and hypebeasts, pale in comparison to its new Runner, which recently debuted with metallic rainbow details. The silhouette could be Balenciaga’s next winning design.
First shown as part of the luxury house’s winter 2021 collection, the Runner fits into Balenciaga’s “fashionably clumsy” designs, arriving chunky and well-distressed much like an actual running sneaker. And like most Balenciaga models, the Runner isn’t free from hype: The shoe was introduced with an inaugural limited-run drop and a campaign featuring Justin Beiber.
Balenciaga’s latest iteration, however, begins to shift away from the brand’s clout-seeking customers, instead catering to more laid-back, indie shoppers — who of course, can still afford the sneaker’s $1,150 price tag.
Chunky, funky, and dumpy? — Following athleisure and dad shoe trends, the Runner sneaker mimics the look of Asics running shoes, contrasting its gray mesh upper with linear chrome panels. The shoe’s respective European size comes stamped on its purple toe, while the multi-piece sole unit blends from blue to yellow to green. Rainbow stripes decorate the collar as a blue heel loop, orange tongue embroidery, and black “Runner” and Balenciaga branding round out the sneaker’s playful look.
Casual details, like graffiti-esque writing and a paracord pull tab, make it easy to forget the Runner costs more than $1,000. And with an intentional worn-in look — emphasized by scuffs, smudges, and dirty laces — the sneaker implies it’s already been through multiple marathons. Its distressed appearance balances between “too cool to care” and “rich tryhard” as the price of the Runner is anything but blasé.
Still, anything flaunting Balenciaga’s branding is inevitably expensive; you clicked on this article already knowing the Runner wouldn’t come cheap. Whether or not the sneaker is worth its premium is subjective — you could buy a similar pair of Asics and dirty them up for a price under $200, but the shoes wouldn’t bear Balenciaga’s logo or, more importantly, chrome rainbow details.
If you have the means to buy the Runners, we won’t blame you for buying them — instead, we’ll only look on in jealousy. You can deposit your $1,150 for the sneakers on Balenciaga’s website.