NEW SKOOL-type trainers (ie, those with enough air bubbles, vulgar logos and reflective strips to resemble cartoon space rockets) have, for quite some time, reigned supreme in the hearts and on the soles of the distinctly un-sporty fash pack. When Nike flooded the market with their Air Max Metallics (pounds 119.99 per pair - cough, splutter!) last year, it marked, for many a trainer buff, the beginning of the end of the high- tech trainer boom; a boom which has resulted in "some of the most garish and over-designed monstrosities known to mankind!" as Thomas Murphy, fashion stylist for Sleaze Nation and Second Generation magazines and self-confessed "trainer junkie" so succinctly puts it. Equally unimpressed is Laura Craik, fashion features editor at The Face, who recently slated the Max Metallic madnes, by questioning "the spooky, freakish ubiquity of this mediocre trainer". Ouch!

So where next for former walkers on the wild side? A move to shoes proper, perhaps? Nope - we'll leave the desert boots and "pasties" to retro-fetishists and indie bores, ta. Hang on in there all ye sneaker pimps, the answer lies in abandoning those Flash Gordon-esque accoutrements (go on, just do it!) bypassing the plethora of new, self-concious trainer "boutiques" (Offspring, for example) and braving stores such as, gulp, Marks & Spencer. Here, the plainest, non-branded trainers this side of a dodgy far-off sweat shop provide the perfect antidote. Cheap too, at only pounds 28 for Reebok Classic lookeylikeys in no-frills white/cream. Outlets like Shoe Express (eek!) and Dolcis (what will the neighbours say?), plus supermarkets (try Asda), markets and charity shops (new or secondhand versions are both fine) can also all provide a wealth of desirably boring footwear.

Indeed, photographer and sometime model Jimmy Robert knew he was truly on to something with his pounds 14 pair of reduced-to-clear trainers from Macro when "a group of kids at the bus stop started pointing and laughing at them". Significantly, said tormentors were all sporting New Skool carbuncles. Robert's fearless trek into the unknown is further validated in the current issue of iD magazine, which features a fashion spread with a female model unashamedly wearing simple, velcro-strapped trainers from, as the credits reveal, a "local thrift store".

The last word on this anti-trend trend (brewing down the clubs and at a bus stop near you) goes to Mark Anthony, stylist for iD, The Face, Arena Homme Plus and Raygun. "It's all about purity," he explains, "there's been such an overkill on the high-tech look." Appropriately, Raygun will shortly publish a fashion shoot styled by Anthony which makes good use of bargain, no-frills trainers found "in a Pakistani sports shop in New York". Mark believes: "This'll take a while to catch on, but anyone who's trying to move things along a bit and be more individual will go for it." Alas, he then adds: "But there'll probably be a resurgence in high- tech trainers - in a different format - in a year or two." Confusing, isn't it?

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