trainers - how to crack the code

Trainers change faster than you can say `Nike Air Max'. So what should your feet be wearing? By Fiona Sturges
Sweeping judgements can be made by a mere glance at someone's feet - you'd be better off going to a club wearing your mum's slippers than a pair of Converse baseball boots. So what is the once-a-year clubber supposed to buy? Will it be the ultra-violet, bulbous, sci-fi model with low-profile zoom air unit and a phylon lateral support wing or the pancake- flat suede style for the skateboarding dare-devils? Should one go for the chunky, flat laces or the thinner round ones, and what is the correct way to tie them? Should the tongues loosely loll out or be neatly tucked away? Do you pronounce it Nike to rhyme with bike or spikey? What is the criteria for purchasing a pair of trainers and how can we crack this "code of cool"?

If you would rather not have the bouncers laughing and pointing at your feet while queueing for a club this Christmas, here is a bluffers guide to the four best-selling trainers and whether you should, or shouldn't be seen in them.

1. Nike Air Max (pounds 109.99): Top of the range in lightweight organic cyber-footwear with the latest in air-technology, reflective materials and all the other bits that give them that Trekkie look. "You can never go wrong with a good pair of Nike's - especially if you're a student." says The Face fashion department.

2. Adidas Galaxy (pounds 44.99): Originally sported by Brit-pop icons, Adidas attracts a different customer to Nike -those who prefer a simpler, more casual design and a retro look. "The Jamiroquai of sneakers and, like him, now transcending fashionability," says The Face. The Mixmag verdict: "The Adidas designs are much of a muchness. They use to be worn by the Acid Jazz types; now they're worn by16-year-olds."

3. Reebok Classics (pounds 49.99): are old favourites. They are bought by the fashion-conscious who would rather not have to upgrade their footwear every few months. "Worn by real geezers, you know, squeaky-clean, casual London boys," says Kirsty Drury of Mixmag. "Choice of the true urban homeboy. And acid Ted," adds The Face.

4. Vans Razor (pounds 62.00): These used to be the definitive "old school" skateboarder's shoe before, according to the true skaters, they became a corporate cliche. They are trying to return to the fold by donating a proportion of their profits to keeping the skate scene alive. "A skateboarder wouldn't be seen dead in these," says Mixmag. "They're grim, they're bland and I don't like the name. I'd rather wear my cowboy boots." says Katie Grande from Dazed and Confused.