Our shoe critic, Hari Nef, on ‘queering’ the New Balance and American Socialism

By
Photography Hari Nef

Published September 18, 2018

 

Gucci, $1,590 “This shoe is like if Nick Offerman’s character on Parks and Recreation started hooking up with Polly Pocket and they did a sneaker collaboration together.”

 

Before stepping into the spotlight in the satirical teen thriller Assassination Nation, the model and actress Hari Nef reviews a few shoes.

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Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello,$695

“There’s something very noble about the bowling shoe. It has very little pretense, and it’s kind of naughty. You have to share them with a bunch of other people, which is so kinky in a way that I like. What other shoes would you actively share with other people? If anyone says that American socialism isn’t possible, point them toward the bowling shoe.”

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Vetements x Swear, Price upon request

“I immediately think of Final Fantasy when I look at these. They make me feel grounded, like I could liberate a lost kingdom. They also kind of make me feel like the Michelin Man’s Instagram trap-goddess girlfriend. Like, I’m in the Michelin Man’s DMs trying to see if he’s going to be at Art Basel. Like, ‘I want my Michelin Man to take me to a three-star Michelin restaurant.’”

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Balenciaga, $850

“I grew up in Boston, really close to the New Balance factory, and I feel like we’re sort of queering New Balance here. This is your standard-issue, fluorescent, athletic shoe, but pumped up on steroids. They’re so big that they make me feel dissociated from my feet a bit, almost like my feet are looking back up at me and judging me.”

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Junya Watanabe, Comme des Garçons, $860

“I could cry right now. Even just the texture of the laces reminds me of all the athletic programs that I was more or less coerced into as a kid. I never enjoyed sports, but if my cleats or whatever looked like this, I probably would have been more inclined. This just takes me back to middle school—athletic shoes by day, My Chemical Romance by night.”

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CONVERSE x JW ANDERSON, $140

“A pink sneaker is like walking down the street at five miles per hour with a Starbucks in your hand. Nobody is getting in your way. Pink is such a clear departure from the utilitarian nature of the sneaker. The latex reminds me of female-marketed sex-toy packaging, while the terry-cloth laces remind me of a bathrobe. It’s all very ‘I’m bored in my hotel room.’” (Available in pink, orange, yellow, green, white, and red.)

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Versace, $1,350

“Oh my god, are these pony hairs? There is so much to process with these sneakers. I don’t know what to say about the animal print. I don’t know what to say about the laces. And I really don’t know what to say about the chain soles. It’s just Versace, so get into it! It’s like I’ve met a person who I am unexpectedly attracted to, and now I’m reconsidering my whole life.”