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Are you ready to wear 'snoafers?' The deal with the loafer-sneaker hybrid coming soon

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

It's not a sneaker. It's not a loafer. It's a snoafer (ph) or maybe a sneafer (ph). Well, at any rate, it's the New Balance 1906L, a sneaker-loafer hybrid that has gone absolutely viral since it made its debut in fall fashion collections. Jacob Gallagher of the Wall Street Journal wrote about the shoe and its reception. Hi, Jacob.

JACOB GALLAGHER: Hi.

SUMMERS: All right, Jacob, let's start with the basic question. Can you just describe for us, like, what the shoe actually looks like?

GALLAGHER: OK. So from the side, your listeners can probably picture a classic New Balance running shoe. It's got mesh paneling along it. The big one that's gone viral is gray and has some kind of off-white accents to it. It looks like what someone would have ran the Boston Marathon in, in the 1980s.

SUMMERS: (Laughter).

GALLAGHER: If you look at it from the top, it doesn't have laces. It doesn't have eyelets. It has the kind of sloping vamp, the sloping upper of a loafer.

SUMMERS: OK, Jacob, no one - to be clear - should ever take fashion advice from me. So I want to ask you, where would one wear a shoe like this?

GALLAGHER: So it's interesting because we are in this very choose-your-own-adventure moment within fashion. You know, I'm sure if you look around a modern office, you'll see a lot of different dress codes being adhered to.

When I spoke with the New Balance designers behind this shoe, they didn't necessarily say, oh, this is designed to be worn with a suit in lieu of your traditional leather dress shoe. But I think this is in a category of shoe that's supposed to be looked at. And so I think people will wear it with outfits that will highlight that in some capacity and get people to come over and say, wait, what are those on your feet?

SUMMERS: OK, so help me understand. What is it about this shoe that caused it to go so viral? I mean, the reaction online has been crazy.

GALLAGHER: I think that we are in this mode, in the footwear world in particular, where virality is a goal. This shoe, it's hitting that trend, but it's also hitting this kind of I would say comfort-minded trend that we've been stuck with since the pandemic, where, you know, dress shoes really went the way of the dodo. And people were wearing shoes that were, you know, slip-ons. They, you know, were easy on the feet. And so that's what people still continue to look for. And so this is kind of a way of giving a little bit more professionality. Though, again, I don't see people really wearing this in the office that much, but it's really a comfort-driven shoe.

SUMMERS: Jacob, I do have to ask you. Will we be seeing...

GALLAGHER: Yes.

SUMMERS: ...You out there rocking snoafers this summer?

GALLAGHER: I have been a fan of these. I have had, I think, the cycle of looking at them that a lot of people had, which is at first thinking, what in the world are these? And then eventually tilting my head a little bit and smirking at them and thinking, wait, are these cool? So your listeners can know, yeah, I'd say 95% chance I will buy them.

SUMMERS: That's the Wall Street Journal men's fashion columnist Jacob Gallagher. Jacob, thank you.

GALLAGHER: Thank you very much - appreciate it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Alejandra Marquez Janse is a producer for NPR's evening news program All Things Considered. She was part of a team that traveled to Uvalde, Texas, months after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary to cover its impact on the community. She also helped script and produce NPR's first bilingual special coverage of the State of the Union – broadcast in Spanish and English.
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.
Juana Summers is a political correspondent for NPR covering race, justice and politics. She has covered politics since 2010 for publications including Politico, CNN and The Associated Press. She got her start in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Mo., and also previously covered Congress for NPR.