VERSUS: Is Lace Swapping Hot or Not?
Lace swapping is like the salt and pepper of the sneaker world. A simple garnish of colourful woven threads can add flavour and individual flair to a pair of otherwise stock standard shoes. Despite an entire sub-industry of stringy shoe accessories probably existing since before the days of Chuck Taylor (the guy), some rusted-on old heads are resistant to change... in particular changing their shoelaces. Two of SF's diametrically opposed employees – an open-minded new ager and a salty stock-laced veteran – enter a tug o' war on one of the sneakersphere's oldest debates. It could be a never ending argument but, as they say, how long is a piece of string?
Vote with your feet (and hands) at the end of the VERSUS to make your opinion count!
Hey boss, have you seen the 'Team Green' Dunk Lows? They're looking pretty mean. But I think when I cop these I'm gonna swap the laces for cream ones... Whatcha think?
Nah man, don't start this again. That's totally wack. What's wrong with the stock laces? It's how Nike intends for those Dunks to be worn.
Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with the stock laces... But sometimes I like my coffee black, sometimes I like my coffee with a bit of cream ;) What's wrong with mixing it up from time to time?
I'm a real stock sorta guy. I don't mod my car, my phone is in its default settings – and my sneakers use their factory laces. Someone's gone to all the effort of designing a hot sneaker colourway – down to the shoelace colour – and you've gone and thrown a wet blanket over it with your cream laces. Which, I might add, looks like you've tried to make the shoes appear as though they've emerged from a 30-year-old time capsule. Why you fakin'?
Sometimes you have to modify a shoe to fit your style. If I could buy these Dunks with cream laces, I would. But I can't. Say I've got on a vintage tee and some aged military pants on. I'm asking myself, 'What sneakers are going to best suit my fit?'
Green Dunks with stock green laces? Okay, not bad, not bad. Green Dunks with cream laces to enhance the vintage look? BIG EFFING GAS DAWG, it's a MOOD.
Yeah, fair enough. I guess all the bboys and bgirls have been swapping laces in their adidas Superstars and PUMA Suedes since the 1970s. It's a personalisation thing. But I can't help but think this current crop of creamy shoestrings is a trend some IG archivist started – not a genuine method for self-expression. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt though, and assume you're not jacking someone's steez.
Tell me why else you think swapping laces is a good idea.
Firstly, even if it is just a 'trend', remember that it's not permanent. Think of it as a haircut and not plastic surgery. If your vibe changes, just swap it back baby!
Nothing in fashion is sacred, and sneakers aren't excluded from this rule. If we all just rocked stock all the time, fashion wouldn't move forward! We need to experiment. You owe it to your fellow sneakerheads.
We all made mistakes in our youth. I'll admit to having flirted with the lace flip when I first dipped into sneakers. Starks Laces were all the rage in the late-2000s: the likes of OriginalFake (KAWS), Marc Jacobs, and BEEN TRILL were doing shoelace colabs long before Trophy Room got the 'exclusive' blue set. I copped a few Fully Laced phatties for my Gold Box-era SB Dunks too. It seemed like a good idea at the time. At least I didn't put 3M rope laces into every sneaker I owned during the Fieg days. Don't tell me you did...
Nah, I knew better than to put Ronnie's ropes into my Roshes and UltraBOOSTs. Look... I'm not advocating inserting new laces into every pair of shoes that I own. It's gotta elevate the shoe. A good rule of thumb is earthy tones (e.g. beige, green, brown) laces into a simple CW with complementing colours. 'Curry' Dunks? ✔ Spartan Greens? ✔ Chunky Dunkys? ✘
I learned everything about lace swapping from Ian Fieggen, aka Professor Shoelace!
Don't tell me that ain't FRESH.
Credit where it's due: Fieggen is the GOAT of lace swapping. I can see how that green flip improves that particular NB colab, considering the original laces have text all over them. At least you know how to style your third-party shoelaces – even if they weren't intended by the brands to be used in the first place. Meanwhile, I'm gonna stick to my OG laces. Go ahead and put your cream into a pair of Jordans. Just don't tell MJ – he might take it personally.