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Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump holds gold Trump sneakers at Sneaker Con Philadelphia, an event popular among sneaker collectors, in Philadelphia, on Feb. 17.Manuel Balce Ceneta/The Associated Press

The biggest knock against Donald Trump’s sneaker offering – the ‘Never Surrender’ high top – is that they look stupid.

Bright gold, the Stars and Stripes embossed on the upper half and a ‘T’ emblazoned on the side. It’s true that they would be hard to miss. From low Earth orbit.

A word-cloud sampler created by sneaker aficionados in The Guardian – “tacky,” “cheap,” “knock-off,” “very, very dumb.”

“The font of the ‘T’ is so basic,” said one guy.

Based on the context in which he said it, I believe he may have been serious. This is a man talking about an ugly shoe like he’s assessing the Bayeux Tapestry. That’s where we’re at.

Still, you can’t argue with him. Trump sneakers are laughably, cringingly ridiculous. They are a chastity belt strapped to your feet. Wearing them should disqualify you from speaking at all gatherings larger than one.

And this makes them different from other sports paraphernalia worn for any other purpose than doing sports how exactly?

Trump sneakers have not crossed some sort of politico-aesthetic threshold. Nike and New Balance make plenty of sneakers that look even stupider.

Google Balenciaga Technoclogs, but don’t do it if you’ve got two grand burning a hole in your pocket. You may not be able to control yourself.

The ‘Never Surrenders’ aren’t an anomaly. They are the obvious result of a fashion idea that was idiotic in its conception. That has only become obvious to some people right now because they hate Trump so much.

Not so long ago, there were two types of people – those who did sports for a living, and those who watched them. You knew the difference based on their manner of dress.

The athletes wore loud monochromes, athletic shoes and jerseys with their names across the back. The people watching them wore normal-people clothing. Office-worker, bus-driver, stay-at-home-mom clothes.

Those people would no more have dressed up like a professional basketball player than they would have worn leotards and ruffed collars because they enjoyed Shakespeare. This was obvious.

Eventually, children wanted to dress like their sports heroes, in much the same way a kid might carry around a sword and shield or wear a tutu and a tiara. This wasn’t fashion. It was make-believe.

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Gold Trump sneakers sit on the podium at Sneaker Con Philadelphia.Manuel Balce Ceneta/The Associated Press

How can you tell the difference? A six-year-old with a sword and shield is charming. A 34-year-old decked out like a medieval squire means you should dial 911.

Back then, Nike was not an apparel company. It was an athletic-equipment manufacturer. It made shoes for runners. People were meant to put them on and run in them. That was the whole business. Incredible.

Nike now makes shoes for people who might run for a bus and that’s about it. You would no more run in the rarest and most expensive of its athletic sneakers than you would toboggan on top of a painting.

Somewhere along the line, without anyone announcing it, we even changed the name. Running shoes became sneakers. Maybe because nobody’s exactly sure what sneaking involves. It could be anything. You could be doing it right now, as you read this, on the couch.

The financial beauty of this process – turning something practical into something collectible – is that the thing you’re making no longer need be fit for purpose.

Nike and whoever else can make the world’s stupidest, most impractical shoes and sell them to people at 10 times the going rate precisely because they are stupid and impractical. Their value lies in their uselessness.

When everyone’s wearing something stupid and impractical, manufacturers have to change their game. Aesthetic simplicity (the oft-copied, never-surpassed Converse All-Star remains a perfect court shoe) is replaced by garishness.

The real hipsters wear shoes so ornate that they could never be mistaken for suburban, athlete cosplay, including shoes that look a lot like Trump’s ‘Never Surrenders.’

Meanwhile, normal people now dress like normal athletes. Go to a downtown Keg on a game night. It’s rammed with men and women decked out in Leafs and Halloween costumes, though it’s not Halloween. Removed from the context of the arena, they look silly and they know it, which is why they cluster with like-minded sports LARPers.

Now here comes Trump, a guy that would be just as likely to wear sneakers outside the house as I would be to wear a live iguana. He has zero qualifications for making an athletic shoe. Famously, he doesn’t even exercise (which may make him the only honest boldface name in the United States in this regard).

But under the new fashion rules, everybody’s an athlete. You don’t need to know how to skate/shoot/pitch/serve. Just buy the jersey. Get the shoes. Wear the shirt.

If Trump had come out and started selling men’s wear or vodka, the reaction would be amused derision. He did and does sell those things. No one talks about it.

But now that he’s chosen to become a sneaker impresario, the reaction is anger and confusion.

“Donald Trump showing up to hawk bootleg Off-Whites is the closest he’ll get to any Air Force Ones ever again,” a Joe Biden spokesperson said on CNN.

It tells you something that the ruling political party now expects average citizens to understand what Off-Whites and Air Force Ones are.

Trump is pointing out something mainstream culture does not want to acknowledge – that we look a bit foolish. Call it the ‘Forever 21′-ing of our moment.

We’re somewhere between 20 and 80 years old and we’re all done up like mini-Michael Jordans and ersatz-Sidney Crosbys, which makes about as much sense as dressing up like Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

The Trump sneaker won’t be end of this weird, 30-year turn into sports costumery. Too many corporations depend on it to survive, and too many slavish trend followers would have to burn their wardrobes.

But this is the point at which we can no longer deny the truth. As a culture, we look goofy. It took someone both terrifically famous and terminally uncool (Trump may be the only person who fits the bill) to highlight that.

Now that it’s been pointed out, it cannot be unseen.

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