With the end of the US Election and the Biden-Harris campaign, Kamala Harris has received her fair share of media attention. This spotlight is not merely a result of the exciting focus on her as the first female Vice-President, for she is also in the spotlight because of her unconventional choice of footwear.
Harris’ preference for Converse trainers whilst on the campaign trail defies the norm for women in powerful positions in the public eye, who have historically tended to opt for more formal choices. During her 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton wore kitten heels, a style that suggests sophistication and care, thus aligning Clinton with these desirable attributes in a leader. Harris’ Converse do not offer quite the same perception: instead, she appears relatable, friendly, normal. Through her shoes, we are reminded that, ultimately, she is human too.
Converse All-Stars are about as quintessentially American as a footwear brand can be. Introduced initially as a basketball shoe, the trainers are now a staple of wardrobes internationally, with the iconic American colours of the white circle, blue star and red font of the shoe’s label being recognisable just about anywhere. They have become the perfect everyday shoe: they are worn to death by their owners, who are unafraid to get them dirty time and again. It is this rough and ready sense that Harris embodies when wearing them as she refuses to subscribe to the expectation of having a fresh outfit and shoes on every time she appears in public.
Harris’ footwear makes her appear infinitely more approachable. Given that her campaign slogan was ‘Kamala Harris for the people’, her footwear reflects this. She appears in touch with the American population in a way no other leader has before, rebelling against the prescribed expectations of a leader.
Alternatively, she might just prefer comfort over formality, not caring what the public think, which is equally as respectable as the statement the shoes present. I think we can all respect prioritising comfort, that’s for sure!