Fashion

Why the tech world is obsessed with Atoms trainers

Now that their algorithms have ironed out the inefficiencies above your ankles Silicon Valley is coming for your feet

For your average tech CE-bro, fashion isn’t something that is savvy, sexy and status signalling. Instead, fashion represents a problem to be solved and yet another industry to be “disrupted”. Now that their algorithms have ironed out the inefficiencies above your ankles – Patagonia fleece vests, Everlane chinos and Under Armour T-shirts – Silicon Valley is coming for your feet.

According to MBA rationale, trainers are overdesigned, overpriced and over-logoed. What’s needed is a product that is rational and cost-effective. Sounds super fun, right? Enter husband-and-wife duo Waqas Ali and Sidra Qasim, whose startup shoe brand, Atoms, claims to offer “effortless form, fit and function” and the “perfect basic”.

'How will I go back to a 10.5 when 10.25 fits so well?'

So what’s the “vision” here? Quarter sizes offered in odd pairs for different-sized feet. No logos and a plain design that comes in black, white or black and white. Not so much designed by committee as designed by algorithm, Atoms trainers seem intent on making the world more basic one BDE-deficient tech-bro at a time. And, sure enough, soon after the launch, former Airbnb designer Bryce Daniel tweeted, “How will I go back to a 10.5 when 10.25 fits so well?”

Atoms shoes follow in the footsteps of “purpose-led” shoe brands such as AllBirds, whose merino wool “sustainable” trainer has earned the company a billion-dollar (unicorn) valuation in little over two years. And next up? A carbon-neutral shoe called Tread from the same people who brought you Everlane. A case of the bland leading the bland?

Shoes by Atoms, £140. wearatoms.com

Every generation has a look that defines success and for centuries it involved a suit of some kind. Then Silicon Valley happened and with it came normcore tech titans such as Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs, who took the idea of a personal uniform to its horrible, literal conclusion by wearing the same thing every single day.

Fortunately, not everyone in the fintech industry got the memo. Patagonia, AKA “Patagucci”, recently made headlines for refusing to make co-branded fleece vests for one firm. Whereas it used to be the underclass that fashion brands distanced themselves from (remember Burberry and “chavs”?), in 2019 CE-bros have achieved the curious distinction of being the world’s first cohort of extremely successful rich people that nobody wants to look or dress like. Until, of course, some clever clogs designer such as Demna Gvasalia of Vetements suddenly decides that Silicon Valley style is the height of postmodern cool and casts Jeff Bezos for a catwalk show... Now there’s a startup you can invest in.

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