Shape-Ups Letting People Down

November 17, 2011 by · Comments Off 


By Nicholas Cains

Allie Jean Thompson, an SMU senior, was feeling a little overweight last year and decided to do something about it.

Walking through North Park Center one day, she saw a pair of shoes in a store window advertising a way for her to shed the pounds simply by walking. Those shoes were Sketcher’s Shape-Ups.

The ads claimed to help wearers burn more calories, work their legs 11 percent more, and tone their butts 28 percent more than your average athletic shoe. But Thompson wasn’t sure she was falling for it.

“To lose weight and get results you have to sweat and diet,” said Thompson, who had shed nearly 70 pounds in high school. “I’d seen them before and knew I wouldn’t be caught dead in them.”

She bought the shoes anyway, which range in price from $80 to $$120, but quickly realized that her new footwear probably wouldn’t live up to the hype. After a few months, she wasn’t seeing the results that dazzled her in the first place, and she knew exactly who to blame.

“That was my fault,” said Thompson. “Those shoes weren’t meant for that.”

Thompson then set out to lose weight like she did her freshman year in high school: By working out and eating right.

“I knew I could do it on my own,” she said.

Advertisements about the latest toning shoes, from Sketcher’s Shape-Ups to Reebok’s Easy Tone line, have recently come under fire for allegedly misleading their consumers. Holly Ward, a waitress in Ohio, sued Sketchers in February for fracturing her hip bones after five months of wear. Reebok settled a $25 million lawsuit in September for claims that Easy Tones ads were advertising false results. So the question for consumers is, “can these shoes deliver what they promise?”

“It depends on what you want the shoes to do,” says Martha Phillips, a personal trainer in Dallas who holds a Masters of Science in Human Movement.

Philips said the original “rocker shoe”, made by Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT), was introduced to her four years ago as a way to help people correct their posture. The shoe’s rounded soles kept walkers off-balance, which caused them to work harder to stand upright.

“If nobody else will teach you how to stand up straight, the shoes are a perfect fit,” said Phillips.

Phillips said the problem came when Sketchers and Reebok released their versions of the MBT, with fresh promises to match. To Phillips, ads claiming to increase weight loss and muscle tone, making you look like Kim Kardashian with no extra work, are appealing, but unrealistic.

The ads for these shoes, which were still running on Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon in May of this year, are being criticized for the specific promises they make. According to one commercial, the wearer can “burn more calories, tone muscles, improve posture and reduce stress,” more than a regular sneaker just by walking.

“People don’t feel good, so they buy into the hype,” said Phillips.

The hype in the ads are also backed up by clinical studies that were discredited last year.

According to the American Council on Exercise, the first studies on the shoes were internally funded, non-peer reviewed and had questionable analyses. The A.C.E. study that followed found that walking in toning shoes made participants burn about the same amount of fat and use as much muscle as wearing regular athletic shoes.

Kenneth Clark, a doctoral student in Applied Physiology and Biomechanics at SMU, said there is not enough scientific evidence to support a claim that any athletic shoe performs better than another. To make any fair comparison, Clark said that many different types of runners in multiple shoes would need to be observed; but he has not seen a test like that yet.

“You should be skeptical of evidence given by the manufacturer,” said Clark. “Don’t be blinded by statistics.”

Despite this information, some people still want to believe their toning shoes work. Savannah Stephens, a sophomore communications major at SMU, has been wearing her Shape-Ups for two years and said they are not only comfortable, but they also make her feel athletic.

“Since I don’t work out, they make me feel like I’m doing something right,” said Stephens.

Others think that Shape-Ups keep people from actually working out. Amanda Owen, a junior dance major at SMU, said any product that claims to help you lose more weight while you keep the same routine is a rip-off.

“You could do all of those workouts on your own and save your money,” said Owen.

Phillips encourages anyone seeking a healthier lifestyle to avoid fitness fads. If you want an “itty bitty waist” like you see in the commercials, Phillips suggests dieting, exercising, and avoiding “get skinny quick” schemes.

“If it sounds too good to be true,” said Phillips “It probably is.”

Stylish Students Host Preview at NorthPark

September 2, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Andy Garcia

Southern Methodist University students and insiders of the Dallas fashion scene teamed up to host a preview of the Fall 2010 BCBG Max Azria collection in NorthPark Center Wednesday night.

Students, Sarah Bray, Krystal Schlegel and Lauren Taylor publicized the event on SMU’s campus, working with the Retail Club to draw in students for the preview while Dallas PaperCity Magazine co-editor Brooke Hortenstine and Dallas socialite Capera Ryan brought the city’s fashionistas out.

Caroline Young and Catherine Van Dyke peruse the BCBG Fall 2010 racks at Northpark Center. (PHOTO BY ERIN GOLDSMITH / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

Valerie Stewart, the Dallas district sales manager for BCBG Max Azria, said the preview is part of a brand ambassador program taking place in major cities like New York and Los Angeles. Hortenstine and Ryan became involved after being dressed by BCBG Max Azria for the Dallas Wish! Art Auction in May.

Hoping to draw in the SMU crowd the clothier asked Bray, Schelegel and Taylor to co-host because of their experience with fashion.

“BCBG wanted students in the store to see the fall collection,” Bray said. “A lot of the stuff you see around the store, like the really cozy sweaters, would be great for wearing to class.”

SMU students Lauren Taylor, Sarah Bray, and Krystal Schlegel co-hosted the fashion preview event. (PHOTO BY ERIN GOLDSMITH / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

Despite the rainstorm that stuck during the evening, dozens of people filled the BCBG Max Azria store, getting a first glimpse of the fall line while drinking champagne and sampling hors d’oevres.

Among the crowd were many freshman students eager to get acquainted with Dallas fashion. Courtney Blake, freshman, learned about the preview from an email blast Retail Club sent out Wednesday afternoon. She and a friend were excited to meet other students who share their interest in fashion.

“I wanted to come out and meet more people,” Blake said. “I already met a couple of girls that actually live in my dorm, so we are pretty excited about that.”

Jana Mathena, a former SMU student and the owner of Gameday Cloth, a retailer specializing in college sports apparel, was pleased to see the number of students who attended the preview.

“I went to SMU and there wasn’t a retail club then,” Mathena said. “So I think it is really cool for girls to get to see something different, do something different, get a fashion appetite, which here in Dallas, and throughout SMU is everywhere.”

Pieces from BCBG Fall 2010 on display. (PHOTO BY ERIN GOLDSMITH / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

While the preview was intended to peek interest in the new fall line, some attendees found it was the chance for a night of great shopping among friends. Lindsey Strafuss, sophomore, was among the few who not only tried on a number of items but also made a stop at the cashier to take home a black dress.

Emily Bates, president of the SMU Retail Club, was pleased with the preview’s turnout. She hopes this is a sign of good things to come as her organization gears up for a year of events at Neiman Marcus, Barneys New York and Madewell.

Dallas socialite Capera Ryan and PaperCity Magazine co-editor Brooke Hortenstine were in attendance. (PHOTO BY JEFFERSON JOHNSON / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

BCBG Ambassador Capera Ryan and Editor-in-chief of PaperCity Magazine, Brooke Hortenstine, were in attendance. (PHOTO BY JEFFERSON JOHNSON / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

Haute Fashion Hits Dallas

October 17, 2008 by · Comments Off 

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Lavish looks from Carolina and Oscar

October 15, 2008 by · Comments Off 

Monday and Tuesday welcomed fashion heavyweights CH Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta, respectively. Here’s a look at Ashley’s must-haves from the two collections.

The model is wearing a CH Carolina Herrera light mauve floor length skirt with a musty brown sheer top with mauve polka dots. This is a great take on the relaxed formal wear trend that was seen throughout the week. CH is Herrera’s ready-to-wear label.

The black fur vest is the must-have winter staple. This style has made its way from hippie labels to the most chic designer, CH Carolina Herrera. Herrera paired her vests with light grey cashmere turtlenecks.

Oscar de la Renta opened his Spring/Summer show with swimwear. This oyster and navy colored block swimsuit creates curves with its navy lines and also conceals bulges because of the flattering cut. . R’el, a model for Kim Dawson who is sporting this look, was my favorite model to watch. Her head bob down the runway caught everyone’s attention.

For his Spring 2009 collection, Oscar de la Renta created a bubble skirt with a high slit. The result is stays true to de la Renta’s nature: classy with a hint of sensuality. The model is wearing a cotton silk shantung, a beige knit jacket and an oyster and blue brocade bubble skirt.

Marisol is wearing a poppy silk faille bubble dress by Oscar de la Renta. This look is cocktail dress perfection with its intricate layers and the shoes dyed to match. It is just the right amount of poppy red.

Captions by Ashley Gilroy
Photos by Evans Caglage, Fashion at the Park, NorthPark Center, Fall 2008

Wild, Wild Western Wear

October 15, 2008 by · Comments Off 

On Sunday, Ashley was on-hand to see Pinto Ranch’s Fall 2008 collection, including looks and accessories by Manuel, BrazilRoxx, Lucchese, Rocketbuster, Scully, ShadyBrady and Stetson. Check out her picks for the best in this season’s saucy cowboy couture.

A mom-turned-runway-model struts her stuff modeling one of the latest looks from Pinto Ranch. The black tulle on the red and white plaid dress stands out without being too much. Caution: this look is only appropriate for attending a cowboy-themed event. Lassos and tassles anyone?

The closing look for Pinto Ranch’s runway show was quite the shocker. Believe it or not, the only thing this model is wearing for a top is a dark brown fur stole. No one would think anything of it if it was in New York or Paris, but Dallas is a different story.

Captions by Ashley Gilroy
Photos by Evans Caglage, Fashion at the Park, NorthPark Center, Fall 2008

A Fashionable Fête

October 15, 2008 by · Comments Off 

On Saturday, Ashley hit “The Future of Fashion: Celebrating Five Years of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund.” Featured designers included Doo.Ri, Phillip Lim, Michael Bastian, Marchesa, Thakoon and Peter Som. Below are some of her favorite looks from the show.

This red, pleated, tiered ruffle gown by Marchesa will likely be seen on a Dallas socialite at a future event. Designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig are known for combining vintage themes with a modern aesthetic.

This red, pleated, tiered ruffle gown by Marchesa will likely be seen on a Dallas socialite at a future event. Designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig are known for combining vintage themes with a modern aesthetic.


A Doo.Ri model wears a v-neck graffiti print dress accented by coffee mid-length leather gloves.


Michael Bastian takes a modern twist on the classic tuxedo. A cashmere scarf and red fingerless gloves are the perfect way to stand out among a sea of men at black-tie events.


Philip Lim mixes two basic pieces to form an unexpected dress: the vermillion constellation fan skirt is combined with a two-tone oatmeal colored midriff sweater to create a cocktail party look.


The rose pattern seen on this model was a common motif for Thakoon’s Autumn/Winter 2009 collection. The 1950s inspired ruffle sleeve gown is modernized by a slimming black belt.

Captions by Ashley Gilroy
Photos by Evans Caglage, Fashion at the Park, NorthPark Center, Fall 2008