Minute shifts in the footsie index of cool mean your trainers could be unwearable next week. Play safe with Matthew Sweet's guide to infra dig and ultra hip - plus we challenge you to match up our four archetypal sneaker wearers (below) with their missing footwear

Not All trainers are trendy trainers: Alan Bennett wears them with tweed suits, Sporty Spice wears them with leather karate gear, and dykey PE teachers wear them with, well, everything. They also go very nicely with shell suits, now only worn by Slovak bus drivers and Sir Jimmy Savile. So, how do you tell the difference between the groovy strain of sneaker that will endear you to the most Stasi-inspired, club-door fashion policeman, and the nasty kind Princess Diana sports in those secret photos taken in the gym? There's no easy answer: it's a minefield of fashion faux-pas, and all the more dangerous because the differences are virtually invisible to the untrained eye.

Should one lace, unlace, or chuck away the laces? Should one keep one's tongue tucked tidily away or let it loll about drunkenly? Should one go retro with old skool Adidas or plump for the hi-tech joys of flexible Torsion systems, anti-pronation devices and Hexalite windows? It's enough to make you long for the return of the formal purity of the Jesus sandal. Maybe not, but one thing's certain: last year's stripe or one dodgy decal can mean the difference between dancing till you drop or crying all night on the stairs.

So, could you infiltrate the Ministry Of Sound in a pair of skater's Van Razors? Would a couple of Converse Doctor J's get you muscled out of the Hacienda? Would some Travel Fox Jungles be your passport to the pavement outside Miss Moneypenny's? In an attempt to answer some of these questions, Puma has just surveyed 120 UK clubs and discovered that 30 per cent of trainer-friendly venues enforce a selection policy. Perhaps Puma discovered something it didn't like, because it doesn't reveal which brands fail to make the grade.

The clubs won't name names either, reluctant to create any guarantee of entry. The Ministry Of Sound - who once turned away Ralph Lauren because they disapproved of his tie - gets a couple of hundred calls a week from those who have been refused, eager to find out what went wrong. They'll get no decisive answer out of the man from the Ministry, Mark Rodol. "It's all about attitude," he says. "Someone could come wearing Pumas and a horrible checked shirt and be turned away, but if he's got Pumas and a nice pair of Gaultier trousers, we might let him in, if he's got the right attitude". And you'll not buy that on Oxford Street.

Getting a consensus is almost impossible, especially when some groovier trainer emporiums admit to deliberately misleading fashion journalists to keep their hot trainer ticket a street secret. According to those behind the counter at cooler-than-cool Slam City Skates, anything you can buy in this country has already gone out of fashion: a weekend shopping in New York is the only way you will tickle their tongue studs. Plus, there are other factors that might distort field experiments. Ardent clubber Catherine, 23, says: "If you're showing a lot of tit, bouncers won't even bother looking at your feet."

The glam factor is the really important one: while jungly, drum 'n' bass venues are cool about footwear, smart, house-oriented clubs, such as the Hanover Grand, will only give the nod to trainers that are so designer they've stopped being trainers at all. It would be suicide to attempt the triathlon in a pair of the Chanel high-heeled variety or balanced on Buffalo Boots' platform monsters. At venues where the bouncers' instinct is anti-trainer, combine the wackiest possible sneaker with some distractingly glamorous dancing pants.

Ghassan, manager of Offspring, a one-off sports-shoe emporium in Covent Garden, is used to spies from high-street chain stores snooping around his shop. His customers are in search of "something you wouldn't believe, something unique and different", and his job is to guess what's going to please them six months ahead. His sage insights into the socio-anthropology of trainer semiotics help explain the unequal status of shoe designs. "You can usually categorise someone by their trainers," he says. "I live in Harrow and your average Harrow bloke wears fake Armani jeans and Reebok Classics - it's what they wear down the pub, but they'd never get into cool places in central London with those. Bouncers are usually arseholes, but they're good at judging someone by what they're wearing."

With Offspring alone stocking more than 350 brands, choosing trainers can be intimidating. Just do your research and keep your nerve - don't go asking for Twyla Tharps when you mean Fila Tarps. Alternatively, you could ask trainerspotter Colin Davis, 24, who predicts that "trainers will carry on getting bigger. The small shoe with a flat sole that was associated with Britpop is on the way out. And, in the past year, they've got fatter and chunkier." He hasn't much time for market-leader Nike: "They make some of the ugliest shoes that I've seen - one of their new ones looks like a big white welly." He also advises steering clear of Pumas: "They are the sort your mum would like you to buy - most of them look hideous."

But it's not hard to side-step the issue altogether. Natalie of laid- back Hoxton Square joint The Blue Note is scornful of clubs attempting to police its punters' footwear, and proud of her venue's lack of a dress code: "We don't look at your feet and say 'you've got Reeboks on, come to the front of the queue' - you'd have to be a complete fashion victim to think like that."

If you've got no furry bra to burn, then you can rest easy in your Reeboks.


Reebok Classics, pounds 49.99

Top choice of the suburban geezer, with all the glamour and sophistication of a pub in Colchester.

Travel Fox Jungle pounds 44.99

Do you still feel like a 16-year-old? With a pair of these you'll look like one, too.

Van Razors, pounds 62

What yesterday's skateboarders are wearing. The cool shoe that sold out and lost its drop-out charm.


Fila Tarps, pounds 34.99

Chunky, funky, rude gear for the discerning trip-hopper.

Buffalo 1340 platforms, pounds 79.90

They'll get you in - the trouble starts on the dance-floor. A must if you fancy yourself as queen of the pop tarts.

Nike Air Rifts, pounds 150

Pug-ugly US cloven-hoofed horrors: scarcity in the UK makes them obscure objects of desire.

Whose trainers are whose?

When reunited with their footwear, Colin Davis claimed the Fila Lo-Tops (they cost him pounds 54); Matt Lloyd Davies, the Asics (pounds 80); Anthony King, the Nike Classics (pounds 50); and Emma E Forrest, the Buffalos (pounds 79.99)

Suggested Topics
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
Arts and Entertainment
Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

    £7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

    Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'