The trend of designer trainers and sneakers has been around forever but it has really caught the momentum in the last few years with all major fashion houses like Chanel, Gucci, and Valentino throwing their weight behind comfort shoes reimagined as luxury footwear. Mad as it sounds, the idea of selling casual footwear as a high-ticket item has turned out to be a true stroke of genius with consumer interest continuing to be nothing short of staggering.
Gucci Ace sneakers became an overnight success ever since they were first introduced in 2016. Even though they are certainly not new, they continue to capture imagination of luxury shoppers. In fact, every time I pop into a Gucci boutique, I always see someone trying them on. Admittedly, for a few seasons now I have been expecting Aces to start making a slow exit from the luxury sneaker stage. Surprisingly, not only they are going nowhere but also the range has expanded far beyond the classic “bee” design to incorporate more bold accents such as spikes, sequins and seasonal prints.
Gucci Ace sneakers have been reviewed hundreds of times so in this post, instead of reheating the same points already covered by many other bloggers, I wanted to focus on the practicalities of owning a pair of Gucci Aces and the daily dilemmas that come with this. Aces are popular and cool looking, but they are a completely different breed to a standard pair of sneakers. Hence, in this review I would like to share my experiences with Gucci Ace sneakers, the truths about them, and what it has taught me about buying luxury casual footwear. Hopefully those of you thinking of spending a small fortune on the first pair may find it helpful.
The pretend casualwear
The first and the most important thing to note when buying a pair of Gucci Ace sneakers is that they are not going to become a substitute for the true casual footwear. Trainers and sneakers are made for heavy usage, mucky tracks, long commutes on dirty and overcrowded public transport where strangers casually step on your toes. This is not the natural habitat for luxury casual shoes such as Aces. Beautiful crafted with intricate detail and finish, their purpose is to stand out and bedazzle rather serve a purely practical purpose and be, otherwise, invisible.
On top of that, the colour range (with white being the dominant colour) and decorative motifs make them unsuitable for anything more than a city walk in dry conditions. The truth is, by buying a pair of expensive sneakers like Gucci Aces you are choosing style over substance and investing in a piece of luxury disguised as a casual item even though, in reality, there nothing casual about them.
The second thing to know about owning Gucci Ace sneakers is that they may have you acting just a little bit loopy. Let me explain… Ever since I purchased by first pair of Gucci Aces, I have become much more aware of my surroundings and very suspicious of people. Usual destinations such as London Underground stations or airports have become nothing short of panic inducing zones because of the likelihood that someone might kick them, accidentally spill a morning coffee on them or run them over with luggage wheels. Seriously, when in a busy area I view everyone like a potential criminal. And if you think that this streak of overprotectiveness might ease over time, think again. Even after months of owning Aces, the idea of wearing them to a place where they might be exposed to damage or dirt still fills me with dread.
There is also the issue of jewel embellishments. So perhaps slightly unwisely, I opted for a pair of Aces decorated with sparkly ornaments I have heard from a few people who bought the same design that the glittery charms have a tendency for falling out. While, touch wood, I have experienced nothing of this sort (not yet anyway!), I cannot help but think that anyone who comes near my Aces may accidentally do the unthinkable and kick or disturb one of the little adornments. Because of this paranoia, simple activities such as waiting in a queue in a coffee shop or standing on an escalator have become quite stressful. As a result of this deeply irrational behaviour I have ended up with a beautiful pair of shoes which is causing me mild anxiety because I do not trust anyone around them.
The care rituals
Honestly, is someone told me months ago that I would be spending a considerable amount of time tending to a pair of sneakers, I would laugh. Yet, ever since I got my Aces I have been finding myself doing just that, obsessively cleaning the sole and dedusting the uppers after each wear. On top of that, they always rest in a box filled with paper inserts to keep them in shape when not in use. Ashamed to admit, I have actually developed a small, after-use ritual to keep them in shape, something I have NEVER done with regular trainers!
There is no other way to say this, your Gucci Ace sneakers will end up being treated like the pampered pooches of your shoe collection. Fresh out of the box, they look nothing short of fabulous and this pristine look can only be preserved by keeping them clean and presentable. Forget about shoving them in the dusty corner of your wardrobe together with other trainers. They are more likely to have their own safe space where they can rest until it is time for them to come out and shine again. And of course, the white shoes require a considerable upkeep and the only way to preserve them is to wipe them clean after each wear to make sure that no spec of mud or dust rests on the rubber sole and no muck settles on the uppers. Sound like a lot of fuss, right? Whether you want it or not, it is almost guaranteed that you will end up but treating your sneakers much better than any odd regular leisurewear, pampering and preening them to the extremes.
The lapse of judgement
When I look at my shoe collection, it is quite apparent that the most comfortable and the most used pieces of casual footwear barely exceed £100 in value. I am talking here about the Sketchers, the gym trainers, the Converse sneakers. Really, to end up with very functional and comfortable shoes you do not have to spend an arm and a leg. So why would anyone in their right mind want to do it? There is one thing to spend a lot of money on a pair of fabulous, designer stilettos but comfort footwear usually comes with a reasonable pricetag, right?
Gucci Ace sneakers are just one example of many (look at Chanel, Valentino, Balenciaga…) of the leisurewear price paradox. They are vastly expensive for causal footwear, yet they are far less usable and far more high maintenance. Imagine how many pair of Converse sneakers you can buy for £425 which is the price of the standard “bee” version of Gucci Aces. On top of that there is also the issue of longevity. Unfortunately, Ace sneakers are unlikely to last many seasons as the snakeskin-effect leather on back of the shoe is very delicate and susceptible to damage. Also, if you have chosen a pair with studs or jewels, these are like to detach at some point. So in terms of cost per wear, they may not be the best value for money.
Still, judging from the sheer popularity of Gucci Ace sneakers, there are many, maaaaaaany people (myself including) who are happy to spend a small fortune on a pair of shoes which make no commercial sense, and if that was not bad enough, wear that badge of madness with great pride and honour. Honestly, just have a look around, or on the Instagram … The world of fashion has gone absolutely bonkers and everyone is happily riding the crazy wave.
Having read the above, do you still want to buy a pair of shoes which make no sense at all and have you acting mad? Good!!
Even though in many ways they defy logic, I am still a massive fan of Gucci Ace sneakers and I have no regrets buying them, none whatsoever. It is true that, as far as leisure footwear goes, they are not perfect, the sizing is certainly a bit dodgy, but there is no denying that they are easy on the eye, very comfortable, great quality and, overall, simply fabulous. They have the effect of making any casual outfit appear much more presentable and will look the part with both floral maxi dresses and a pair of jeans. For flat sole shoes they are also really well balanced so they can be worn for many hours without pain or discomfort, even though the leather feels a little stiff at first. They are certainly brilliant alternatives for heels, ballet flats or other less comfortable footwear on days where you want to feel relaxed but don’t mind oozing a bit of glamour.
The thing to bear in mind is that by investing in a pair of Gucci Ace sneakers you are investing in one of the high fashion’s icons and one of the most recognisable designs of the recent years. As long as you set realistic expectations, and do not assume that by buying shoes that just happen to look like sneakers you are buying a pair of casual shoes, you will not be disappointed. Certainly, every time I put them on, I cannot help but marvel over how pretty they are and what a fantastic purchase they have been, even though they have turned out to have little in common with true casual wear. Despite a few shortcomings, they have quickly become one of my favourite pairs of shoes and I am more than happy to recommend them to anyone still wondering whether they are worth the fuss. Even though they have me acting a little crazy at times … Overall verdict: A star buy