Trump’s trainers are a cash grab from chaos

This weekend, Donald Trump dropped a pair of $399 gold trainers. Are we witnessing a tear in the counterculture continuum?

There’s a lot to say about Donald Trumps $399 gold trainer drop. In fact, much of it has already been said.

Jokes have been made about how the former US president must be strapped for cash as he faces a $354.9 million fine for financial fraud. Think pieces have been written about how, as Trump begins a campaign for reelection later this year, the new business venture masks his moral depravity in a veil of absurdity. Pretty much everyone has agreed that the gold Air Force 1 rip offs are ugly.

But no one has been that surprised. This is partly because, in the eight years since he was elected as president, we’ve become unnervingly accustomed to Trump’s grotesque antics – compared to, say, inciting an insurrection, flogging a pair of tacky trainers doesn’t seem that bad. But, as Donald Trump introduced the world to The Never Surrender High-Tops” at Sneaker Con in Philadelphia this weekend, a reality that’s been bubbling up for the past few years was finally crystalilsed: we are witnessing a tear in the counterculture continuum.

I’ve wanted to do this a long time,” said Trump as he unveiled his trainers to the predominantly young audience (the very same audience that withheld their votes from him in 2020).

Trump’s trainers may be the pinnacle of a capitalist culture that relies on gaudy gimmicks to sell shoes and make headlines, but he’s not the only offender. Sneaker culture started as counterculture, a rejection of traditional fashion norms that elevated sportswear and gave relatively accessible products couture-level reverence among inner city kids. Now, it’s just another cog in the consumerist machine, co-opted by luxury brands and resale sites that hyper-inflate prices and amplify cash-grab collabs over truly interesting designs. Sneaker culture is no longer a reflection of what young people are wearing; it’s about who can drop the loudest, flashiest shoe and sell it for the most money.

Perfect for Donald Trump, then. His $399 trainers have already sold out and can now be found on eBay for $7,500. They’ll likely be snapped up by a self-appointed frontier capitalist, or an Elon Musk disciple who crypto bro’d so hard they have nothing left to buy but ugly gold trainers. Maybe Sneaker Con co-founder Alan Vinogradov will get himself a pair. He donated to the Trump campaign twice last year.

The kids, meanwhile, will find something else cool to wear. They always do.

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