The Height of Fashion


Some girls heading back to school this fall will look inches taller, and it’s not just because they’ve grown during summer break. In a move that clearly puts fashion before function, they’re adding platforms to their tennis shoes.

Fashion-savvy students are taking their athletic shoes (primarily white Vans and Converse models) to shoe repair shops and asking for more sole.

“It’s the going fad this year. I’ve done at least a half-dozen in the past month,” says Jeff Kay, manager of Anthony’s Shoe and Boot Repair in Irvine.

Last year’s footwear fad had girls running to repair shops to have platforms put on their leather shoes. This year, Kay says, they’re giving tennis shoes the same high-rise treatment because “they want to be noticed.”


Indeed, it will be hard to miss them teetering down the hallways of high school with these towering tennis shoes on their feet. While some students are settling for a manageable 2-inch platform, others are taking the shoes to nosebleed heights.

“I’ve done them as high as 6 inches,” Kay says. “They’re not hard to walk in. The girl who wanted the 6-inch platforms was dancing in them in front of the store.”

Kay is well qualified for handling platform work. For two years he’s been the U.S. and Canadian champion of shoe repair, an honor bestowed by Shoe Service Magazine at its annual Silver Cup Contest in which contestants repair broken shoes.

Kay adds height to tennis shoes by adhering layers of three-quarter-inch foam crepe with contact cement to the soles.

“You just do it layer by layer,” he says.

Platform tennis shoes made their first appearance in the ‘70s, and they’ve come back around as part of fashion’s continuing retro revival. Today’s elevated tennis shoes are lighter than their predecessors.

Still, the shoes won’t be as flexible after they’ve had platforms added to their soles, says Jack Harb, owner of the Cobbler’s Bench in Costa Mesa. He’s had a couple of customers bring in their white Vans to be fitted with 2-inch platforms.

Platforms cost about $25 to $30 an inch.


Considering that they render the shoes useless for, say, basketball, many a parent might wonder why a perfectly good pair of athletic shoes has been sacrificed for the sake of fashion.

Then again, maybe they think the shoes could be an advantage on the court: “Perhaps they can dunk the ball,” Kay says.