Children's sneakers are generally reserved for recess shenanigans, scooter races and well, comfort. But now, new styles come with a hidden wedge heel, giving little ones a lift similar to the designs popular with fashion-savvy adults, according to Footwear News.
The TODAY SHOW reports the trend in high top wedge sneakers hit last year when designers like Isabel Marant and Marc Jacobs started selling the style, and fashionistas scooped up the shoes, wearing them with everything from sweatpants to skinny jeans. The trend trickled down to contemporary labels like Ash and Zara and is now being marketed to a children and tween audience in sizes starting as small as a 13 (which generally fits a 5-year-old.)
Skechers has a hot pink version with a Velcro strap and purple shoelaces that look like they belong on "Club Kid" Barbie. Michael Michael Kors is making a wedge sneaker with mirrored details that are a little "Mad Max"-meets-the-schoolyard, and Kenneth Cole Reaction's black and teal sneakers look like a skateboarding shoe from the late '80s (but with a 2-inch lift).
As stylish as these high-heeled shoes are, the practicality and safety of them comes into question, with several moms stating that they would rather their little ones' feet stay flat on the ground.
"It's one thing to let a little girl walk around the living room in your heels for a few minutes — it's another to buy her shoes for everyday use that could potentially mess up her still-developing feet," Emili Vesilind, a Washington, D.C.-based mom of two, told TODAY.com.
Fashion fans agree. "Tweens shouldn't be wearing heels," wrote Jada Wong of Styleite. "They should be wearing sneakers!"
According to Dr. A. Gabriel Schifman, a pediatric emergency medicine specialist in Dallas, the sneaker-heel combo may look as safe as a regular sneaker, which is not the case – particularly with children.
"There is an added risk for girls who are wearing these shoes and have not yet achieved skeletal maturity," Dr. Schifman explained to TODAY.com. "By raising the heel, stress is put on the forefoot which can alter the shape of the bones and the way they grow. It can also shorten the Achilles tendon which can cause problems down the road in terms of pain and the child's gait."