Instagram mood boards are quick to identify — and sometimes even start — trends in footwear and fashion. With much of their time spent trawling the internet for what is cool and some accounts having followings upwards of 100,000, it makes sense that these mood boards wield a certain level of influence.
One such trend — evident across mood boards ranging from hidden.ny to archived.dreams, and the fledgling hartcopy — is Instagram’s obsession with vintage or retro-inspired sneakers with a very subtle, white/off-white color scheme. Though the aforementioned accounts have all been posting sneakers in that respective colorway for months now, the trend flown under the radar somewhat.
hidden.ny, run by a graphic designer based in New York, tells Highsnobiety that the trend was born out of the desire for anti-hype. “With such an oversaturated sneaker market, the cream sneaker craze is directly influenced by the growing desire for vintage, hard to find sneakers,” they write over Instagram DM. “The natural tones represent tasteful neutrality, the same way the aged patina of a vintage Rolex increases its desirability.”
Many of the sneakers shared on the Instagram mood boards are actually vintage. Nike Dunks, Air Force 1s, and Jordans from the ’80s, ’90s and ’00s populate the pages, however, the color palette being shared is not unique to that era. There are plenty of sneakers available now in cream, white, or off-white that fit the description.
Contemporary designs, such as the ’70s-inspired New Balance 327, have been released in cream colorways. The world of luxury footwear is in on it, too, with natural tones gracing icons like the Maison Margiela Replica. Of course, there’s always StockX or other resale platforms, where you can “dig through the archives” so to speak, and buy a pair of sneakers that was released ten to 15 years ago and fits the aesthetic.
The muted, cream-tinged colorways are definitely a throwback and why customizers such as philllllthy — who makes your retro Jordans look like they dropped in the ’80s — are becoming so popular. Hidden adds that “faded laces, neutral tones, and chipped leather represent [a certain type of] craftsmanship” that doesn’t exist anymore, as supply chains and mass production have made artisans in the sneaker industry rare.
Today, sneakers are more colorful than ever before. A quick scroll through sneaker retailers’ online offerings gives a sense that brands are trying to outshine each other and have adopted a “the brighter, the better” approach. The cream vintage trend stands in direct opposition to that, letting the sneakers and their design do the talking, rather than the bright colors that adorn them.
Highsnobiety’s Tim Suen, who also co-founded hartcopy, believes that Justin Saunders’ JJJJound was also a big catalyst in the vintage cream movement. “Saunders has used that exact color scheme across a range of his products,” Tim says. “Over time, people caught on and aspired for something more minimal than today’s colorful sneakers. You also have to give Saunders credit for being the OG moodboard.”