In offices across the country, the sneakers-with-a-suit look is becoming increasingly common. Now, even the hallowed halls of U.S. Congress are embracing the trend.
Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a self-proclaimed “sneaker head” from Florida, is leading the charge to modernize Washington’s centuries-old dress code. As Congress becomes younger and more diverse, Moskowitz believes it’s time for lawmakers to catch up with the people they represent.
“You’re gonna see more and more people wearing sneakers,” Moskowitz said.
Moskowitz is in favor of Congress abandoning the outdated tradition of uncomfortable shoes and embracing the practicality and comfort of sneakers while conducting the “people’s business.”
The push for sneaker fashion gained momentum in May when Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries wore “dress sneakers” to a meeting with President Biden in the Oval Office, breaking the longstanding tradition of oxfords and loafers. The trend reflects a broader cultural shift, as athletic shoe imports soared 29% last year, with nearly two pairs for every American.
The sneaker phenomenon isn’t limited to men; women are embracing the trend as well. Robin Givhan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post fashion journalist, sees sneakers as a rebellious statement and a reflection of individuality. She says the impact of sneakers goes beyond fashion, challenging traditional notions of power and authority.
“I think there are some people for whom it is just purely a matter of ‘Hey, these shoes are comfortable and I just want something nice on my feet,” Givhan said.
In response to the rise of sneakers in Congress, Moskowitz and Oregon Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer formed a bipartisan “Sneakers Caucus” hoping that discussing their footwear choices will serve as an icebreaker to foster conversations and bridge divides in the gridlocked, polarized Congress.
“It starts conversations with staff, it starts conversations with other members, it starts conversation with capitol police, it starts conversations with visitors. There’s a cultural shift happening when it comes to sneakers,” Moskowitz said.
Despite the shift, some areas of the Capitol remain off-limits to sneakers, including the lobby to the U.S. House floor.