Ivy Li

The Stories Behind The Soles

Ivy Li
The Stories Behind The Soles

By Ivy Li

Illustrations by Angela Cheng

stan smiths.png

1. Sebastian Garcia

I got my Stan Smiths one and a half years ago. I was looking to round out my shoe collection with a pair of classic white sneakers. I chose Stan Smiths over similar shoes because they are low profile and trendy, which makes them pretty versatile. They were also a good shoe to complete my summer wardrobe. I found them really comfortable so I started to wear them a lot more, even after the summer ended. I wore them a decent amount throughout the fall so they now have a worn-in look. They kept getting more chipped and dirty so they’re more off-white than pure white now. The shoes really became significant when I took them to Paris with me this past fall. I was visiting my girlfriend who was studying abroad there at the time. It was my first time out of the country and I my Stan Smiths were the only shoes I brought with me. They became my adventuring shoes after that. What’s great is that when I wear them I don’t need to worry about getting mud on them because they’re getting more beat up as I wear them anyways, which is great.


2. Hannah Johnson

birks (1).png

These are my knockoff Birkenstock clogs. They’re completely covered with random newspaper snippets. You can’t really read a full story off of them but some of the headlines are pretty comical. I got them while studying abroad in Prague this past fall. I saw them in the window at a podiatry sensible shoe store and I kept passing by them for about a month, thinking that since I’m a journalism major it would be a pretty funny and ironic purchase. When my birthday came around, I bought them as a joke birthday present for myself. Now, they’ve become somewhat of an inside joke between my friends and I. I originally thought maybe they could be my lucky journalism shoes, but I pretty much just wear them around the house as slippers. I will say they’re a good conversation starter, although sometimes I think people’s attention is drawn to my shoes and not me.

black adidas (1).png

3. Catherine Zhang

I bought this pair of Adidas sneakers last year just because I needed new shoes. I copied my sister, who’s really stylish and has a pair of white Adidas that I thought were pretty cool. Since then, I’ve had lots of good memories in the shoes, wearing them mainly to concerts and when going out. They’re super comfortable and since they’re black I don’t have to worry about getting them dirty. They’re pretty much my go-to shoes for any event that’s not professional. One time I was rushing to get ready for a concert and I forgot to change out of my bath slippers and didn’t realize until I was getting in my Uber. I ran back upstairs and slipped on these sneakers quickly. I can see myself wearing these shoes for years to come. I’ve only scrubbed them down once but I’m going to try to take good care of them so I can live out more fun memories while wearing them.

4. Jesus Campos

checkered vans (1).png

I got these checkered Vans around two years ago because I needed shoes and I found their gray and black color scheme aesthetically pleasing. At first, I wore them a decent amount on campus just because they were so easy to put on. I didn’t do that much in them besides wear them to class. I really started making use of them when I studied abroad in Berlin this past summer. In retrospect, they weren’t the best walking shoes because they don’t provide a lot of support— my feet were destroyed in them from walking around so much in the city. Having these shoes was super convenient when I was in a rush to get ready for 8 a.m. class because I didn’t have to worry about them not matching my outfit. After class, we went on walking tours that usually lasted at least an hour and a half,. The cobblestone sidewalks completely wore down my shoes so I don’t wear them much anymore, but I keep them still as a memento of my study abroad experience.

5. Travis Liang

common projects (1).png

I’ve always been really into white shoes. My shoe collection is currently around 50 pairs and about half of them are white. I first heard about Common Projects in early 2013 when I saw them on some YouTube fashion and sneaker personalities, such as Alwaysfreshapparel, Gtfan712productions and Gearedtowardgear. At the time I didn’t have the money to buy them so I just admired them from afar. After high school, I worked at Finish Line all summer to save money to buy this specific pair of sneakers. I bought them during winter break my freshman year at Northwestern. I was shopping in the Loop with some of my frat brothers and we walked into Nordstrom, which was the only store selling Common Projects at the time. I tried them on but I held off on getting them. After we were nearly done with our shopping trip, I realized I had to go back to get them. Initially, I wore the shoes sparingly – only about 10 times the first year – since I wanted to keep them in really good condition. So, they sat in the shoebox most of the time. Recently, I realized that I should wear them more often, especially because they’re such a versatile shoe. I actually want to get another pair in mint because I really dig the look of a sleek, clean, low-cut leather shoe.

6. Gavin Williams

roller blade.png

I started rollerblading at around four or five years old. My dad got rollerblades for everyone in the family. I was the best at it but I also really liked doing it. I found it more fun than biking, and back when I didn’t have a car, I would use my rollerblades to get places. I got this specific pair during spring quarter of my freshman year at Northwestern. Since I have two pairs, I use these to perform tricks while the other pair is more for speed skating. When I have extra time I’ll do UberEats delivery on my skates. I’ve also seen a lot more people rollerblading on campus as a result, which is cool. It’s definitely my preferred mode of transportation.

killshot 2.png

7. Amol Sharma

I got my original pair of Killshot 2’s, which were created as a collaboration between J. Crew and Nike, in 2011. I had wanted them for a while because they were a classic, basic shoe in a beautiful gum-like color, but they were hard to acquire. I had to get a customer service representative preorder a pair for me two months in advance. One day I was at a friend’s house and he spilled soda all over me and the shoes. Even though I couldn’t save them, I liked them enough to track down another pair. By then, in 2014, they had discontinued the shoes and I really missed my original pair. I credit these sneakers with getting me into fashion, since I did so much research to get them. While I had moved on to other brands and styles, this past March I noticed that Nike was doing random small stock releases of the Killshot 2 and I was finally able to get my hands on them again. 

Staff Writer