I have always been a heels-or-die girl.
Well, I was — until two years ago, when I discovered the majesty (and comfort) of sneakers. I slipped into my all-black Stan Smiths, and I never looked back.
I’m not alone, obviously — Adidas’ Stan Smith shoe has been the unofficial Fashion Girl sneaker of choice for several seasons now.
But lately, there’s been a new pair of ultra-hip sneakers taking over the style game. So I decided to try them for myself and see if they’re *really* worth the hype.
These are the APL Techloom Phantoms, aka the trendiest shoes on Instagram
People are obsessed with them — and they’re harder to get your hands on than Yeezys.
OK, maybe not really — but close. The cool Phantom colors are always sold out on the APL website, and retail locations that stock them cannot keep them on the shelves. Because I live and die by an all-black-everything style code, I knew I needed the black-white-silver colorway, which was distressingly hard to get. I ended up finding my size at Net-A-Porter ($165, Net-A-Porter); when I wore them to the weirdo meditation class that Emily and I went to, I nearly caused a riot in the crowd of super-cool models.
Seriously, if the Cool Girls of New York are anything to go by, these sneakers are HOT.
It's easy to see why; the mesh makes these shoes REALLY cool-looking.
The 3D mesh design is super-chic, the minimalism branding is cool, and I’m very into how “fancy workout” they look. Plus, they're very easy to keep clean — not something you often find with knit-finish shoes. Brush these suckers off with a paper towel and they’re good as new again.
And they have some especially awesome design elements, like the neoprene tongue, which isn't REALLY a tongue.
The knit outer surrounds a sock-like neoprene “inner” shoe. It doesn’t come out — it’s attached to the bed — and this feature supposedly stretches to fit your foot perfectly. From my standpoint, this is kinda cool (if a little extra). Shoes on shoes! SHOECEPTION.
So yeah, they look cool — but how do they fit?
I have seen reviews that say APL shoes run small for women; as always, you know your feet best, so YMMV.
For me, the APL Phantoms were true to size. If you have narrow feet or prefer your shoes to fit a little tighter, you may want to go half a size down. I’m wearing an 8.5, my normal size, but I think I’d have liked an 8 better.
And yes, I am looking at my own Instagram here. Totally normal.
Most importantly, these babies are COMFORTABLE.
I wore them every day for two weeks and they were awesome for long days on my feet, running to events in Manhattan, and bopping around after my dog. The soles are flexible, lightweight, and bouncy — but they don't make me feel like I'm on springs.
The lacing, however, is a little annoying. I don’t like a visible knot or bow on my sneakers, and because these shoes don’t have an independent tongue, you don’t have anything to tuck the knot under. Sad trombone noise.
My biggest problem with the APL Phantoms is the lack of arch support.
They have practically NO arch support — so if you’re in the High Arch Club, you’ll need inserts. This is the biggest reason I wore these primarily for style rather than a strenuous workout; if I don’t have enough arch support, the tops of my feet feel like they’re being pulled apart.
My second-biggest issue with these sneakers is that they limit my style choices.
Don’t get me wrong, these shoes are cute as hell. But I really only feel comfortable wearing them with simple outfits — jeans, T-shirts, leggings. We’re talking looks that err on the tomboy side of my goth queen aesthetic.
They’re not quite right to wear with fancier things, like dresses and skirts.
This doesn’t look BAD, but it doesn’t feel right to me. When I pick a pair of sneakers, I want them to work with EVERYTHING in my closet — including dresses, because I like that look. I feel like the APLs don’t go with even a simple outfit like this, whereas my Stan Smiths do.
After two weeks of wearing ~*the coolest sneakers on Instagram*~ I was a believer.
Overall, I like the APL Techloom Phantoms. I’m not 100% sure I understand the arms race to get them, but they’re comfortable, and they look super cool. If you’re a dedicated athleisure girl, or if you don’t need a ton of arch support when you work out, you should definitely grab a pair.
For me, they’re one great option among many — they’re awesome, but I’m not throwing away my Stan Smiths just yet.