- Christian Hartmann/Reuters
Members of the Silicon Valley elite are lacing up sneakers from a Parisian luxury fashion brand that cost more than most people’s monthly grocery bill.
High-fashion house Lanvin makes chunky, low-top sneakers favored by tech heavyweights like Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Google cofounder Larry Page. The shoes have a suggested retail price between $495 and $595.
Take a look at how the brand became a household name in an industry where professionals aren’t always known for their fashion sense.
In 2017, Business Insider’s Avery Hartmans teamed up with online sneaker marketplace Flight Club to identify the rare, pricey, and goofy sneakers worn by the top tech CEOs.
- Drew Angerer/Getty
We noticed that one brand stood out as a clear favorite for many of the Valley’s elite.
Silicon Valley is obsessed with kicks by Lanvin.
- Christian Hartmann/Reuters
Satya Nadella is arguably the most stylish executive in Microsoft history. It’s no surprise he upgrades from department store chains like Nike and Adidas with fashion-forward Lanvin.
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Nadella wore Lanvin Suede & Patent Leather Low-Top Sneaker in black at his keynote address during the 2016 Microsoft Build Developer Conference. The sold-out sneakers cost $495.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, rocked Lanvin’s Cap-Toe Leather Low-Top Sneaker in all-over black during an event to introduce the Google Pixel phone and other products in 2016.
- Ramin Talaie/Stringer
The shoes originally cost $490 and are currently on sale for $343.
Larry Page laced up Lanvin’s Low-Top Sneaker with Contrast Heel long before Pichai was seen wearing them. The Google guru wore the shoes at the 2015 Fortune Global Forum.
- Kimberly White/Getty
The sold-out style sold for about $300, according to online fashion marketplace Lyst.
Kevin Systrom, CEO of Instagram, told The Wall Street Journal in a 2015 interview on style, “I’m a sucker for Lanvin sneakers. … It’s hard to find a day where I’m not wearing them.”
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Systrom said he prefers Lanvin because “I have big feet and they fit me really well.”
He added, “I can wear the patent-leather-toe ones with jeans and they look cool, but I can also just throw on a clean, black pair with a suit; they look great and dress it down.”
He broke out the Lanvin Classic Leather & Suede High-Top Sneaker – which retailed for $590 and is currently sold out – during a panel at the 2015 Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit.
Other San Franciscans are taking style cues from these tech moguls. Lanvin is tied with Gucci for the second most popular sneaker brand among shoppers in San Francisco on The RealReal, an online consignment store that sells luxury goods, according to the retailer.
- Gabrielle Lurie/Reuters
Mayola Martinez, director of men’s category sales at The RealReal, told Business Insider that Lanvin has moved from the No. 7 spot to No. 2 in 2017. Louis Vuitton remains the most popular sneaker brand among San Francisco-based sneaker lovers who shop at The RealReal.
Lanvin ranks as the fourth most popular sneaker brand in New York and sixth in Los Angeles.
Lanvin sells sneakers in the eye-popping price range of $495 to $750. But you can match Satya or Larry by scooping up a used pair on The RealReal for between $145 and $275.
- The RealReal screenshot
So, what’s the allure?
Silicon Valley has never been known for its sharp style. It’s a land where jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies compose the “startup uniform,” and where sneakers are the preferred footwear.
- Kevork Djansezian/Getty
But as dress codes become more lax and designers turn their attention to the “athleisure” market, men and women have more stylish, workplace-appropriate options than ever. Sneakers included.
- Aly Song/Reuters
High-fashion houses like Gucci, Lanvin, and Prada have responded with revamped versions of the “ugly dad sneaker” — chunky footwear in unexpected color and fabric combinations.
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“These designer sneakers are like the male version of the it-bag,” Damien Paul, head of menswear at online luxury retailer MatchesFashion, told Business of Fashion.
Stores can’t keep them on shelves for long.MatchesFashion saw overall sneaker sales rise 150% over the last year, with chunky models surging by 400%, according to Business of Fashion.Mr. Porter (part of Net-A-Porter Group) also reported record growth in the category.
The RealReal told Business Insider that its sneaker business is one of the online consignment store’s fastest growing men’s categories, and is currently up 90% in sales year to date.
Lanvin embraces the trend. Its Winter 2017 men’s collection features low-top sneakers with contrasting patent leather toes and trainers with thick rubber soles.
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Some fashion stalwarts see the closing gap between streetwear and luxury menswear as a threat to their business. Sneakers in particular run the risk of diluting a designer brand.
The sneakers worn by top tech CEOs prioritize function over form, often resembling shoes found in a department store. But their prices are aspirational. The juxtaposition might cause shoppers to question what differentiates a $600 pair of kicks from one that costs far less.
“Luxury and streetwear have never been more connected and the danger lies within forgetting what makes us different,” Kris van Assche, creative director of Dior Homme, told Business of Fashion. “… A certain form of education is important to explain quality, finishing, and price.”
According to Lucas Ossendrijver, creative director of the brand’s menswear division, Lanvin is willing to take that risk.
“Quite often luxury and streetwear brands operate the same way and speak to the same customer and that’s not a problem at all. For me, the only way to stay relevant as a fashion house is to go forward and to think of the now and the future,” Ossendrijver said.