Skechers S-Lights



  • FABRIC/COLOR: Taupe and black trubuck with silver vents and orange trim
  • STYLE #: 90203
  • MECHANISM: The LEDs are small colored “light bulbs” connected by wires running from the side panel down to a battery hidden in the heel.

When I noticed that every third person under ten had a pair of shoes with blinking lights embedded in the heels, I decided, better judgment home in bed, that I needed a pair. At worst, I saw them as a conversation starter, at best a fashion statement, entering a party with footwear that required activating. I was a decade too late on both counts.

Ron, the former professional football player who’s always asking about my “arch maintenance” when I shop at his store, explained that the technology, a series of blinking lights embedded between a clear rubber sole and the insole, pressure-activated and powered by lithium batteries, now belonged exclusively to youth footwear. Popularized by L.A. Gear in the late 1980s (although never worn by their then-spokesman Michael Jackson), the lights were developed as a safety measure for nighttime joggers, keeping the motion of their stride visible to passing cars or pedestrians. However, the battery housing, directly beneath the heel, added extra weight to the shoe and frequently cracked open under the relentless pounding devoted runners place on their feet. L.A. Gear soon replaced the lights with reflective strips laid flush on the body of the shoe, similar to those now attached to all varieties of outdoor gear. This solved both problems and marked the company’s exit from the illuminated-foot business.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

—Kevin Smokler

Kevin Smokler is the editor of a forthcoming anthology from Basic Books on literature as a twenty-first-century avocation.

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