Are high-end sneakers the way of the future? Jimmy Choo thinks so

Jimmy ChooJimmy ChooThe coveted luxury shoe brand Jimmy Choo may be known for its killer high heels, but lately it seems intent on venturing into slightly more scaled-down territory. Just weeks ago, the company announced a collaboration with Ugg Australia (famous for the ubiquitous furry boots), and now Jimmy Choo will be taking on the sneaker market as well. The designer's pre-fall 2010 collection features eight athletic-wear styles--suede and snakeskin models will run about $473 for low tops, and $633 for the high-top looks. (And we thought the cost of plain old Nikes was getting high!)

Jimmy Choo isn't the first designer to recently dip into the sneaker market. Michelle Obama famously wore Lanvin's pricey trainers last year. Prada, Gucci, Dior, and Pierre Hardy have all created luxury athletic footwear, and, in the past few years, we've seen loads of designer sneaker collaborations such as Marc Jacobs for Vans, John Varvatos for Converse, Jil Sander for Puma, and Jeremy Scott for Adidias. Even celebrities have thrown themselves into the the mix-who could forget last year's fashion craze, the sold-out-everywhere Louis Vuitton sneakers designed by Kanye West?

We can't help but wonder if there's a reason all of these fancy sneakers are cropping up. With Victoria Beckham trading in her stilettos for flats, are sneakers the footwear way of the future? If Alexander Wang is selling $400 bike shorts and $225 sweat pants-are high-end designers moving towards a more casual aesthetic? After last year's towering, torturous high-heel trend, will we welcome sneakers with open arms in 2010? Will toddlers like Suri Cruise now monopolize the high heel market?

The Jimmy Choo news leaves us with many questions, but perhaps the biggest one of all is: In these dire financial times, who will shell out 600 bucks for a pair of gym shoes? Whoever it is, we know they're out there. [ELLE UK]