Fashion doesn’t always make sense, and history has witnessed its fair share of trends that have left people scratching their heads. From codpieces to powdered wigs, platform heels to ripped jeans, fashion has always been dividing. So it was of no surprise to me when in mid-2017 Balenciaga released the Triple S into the world and quickly became the catalyst for one of the most eyebrow-raising trends in the footwear universe this century.
A chunky aesthetic, with a greater emphasis on comfort, perhaps even purposely uncool in appearance. Some labelled the Triple S as “Ugly Fashion”, but the one tagline that stuck for most people, coined by the internet and now widely accepted to identify the style is the “Dad Shoe”. This phrase now describes a whole portfolio of imitators and originators that have flooded the market to cash in on the trend’s meteoric rise.
The “Dad Shoes” appeal is something you’d find difficult to put your finger on. Appropriately named after the type of footwear you’d see your Dad sporting, no one can argue these kicks are in stark contrast to the sleek minimalistic designs that had previously been dominating the footwear market. The success of shoes like the Air VaporMax and Adidas Ultra Boost immediately preceding the ‘Dad Shoe’ movement really does raise interesting questions about the finite nature of the trends we go mad for, and precisely what, if anything, is the formula for success in the fashion world today.
To examine the rise of this new trend, we must first acknowledge that there isn’t much new about what has been achieved by the vast majority of designers that have contributed to its popularity. The ‘Dad Shoe’ is all about creating something retro, something nostalgic, creating tributes and revivals of classic running shoe aesthetics which would have been commonplace in the 80s and 90s. The quintessential OG “Dad Shoe” the Nike Air Monarch, a favourite among actual Dad’s have become a template onto which the styles renaissance has sprung from, with shoes like the Nike M2K Tekno seemingly modelled directly from this middle-aged classic, and with icons like Drake apparently favouring the original it seems the trend is here to stay.
Retail analytics company Edited reported that there has been a 627% increase in the number of “Dad Shoes” in 2018, and with Google Trends showing peak searches for “dad sneakers” and “dad shoes” in the summer months of 2018 the spike in popularity with these shoes is unprecedented. A lot of these numbers can be directly associated with the work of one designer who seems to make a living out of dividing opinion and bucking trends. It is no secret Kanye West draws inspiration from high fashion, and his release of standouts like the Yeezy 500 Utility Black, and the Yeezy 700 Wave Runner, both in collaboration with his partners at Adidas built on what Balenciaga started and translated that into a streetwear market, and since their release they’ve been selling like hotcakes.
You might have seen Kim Kardashian sporting a pair of Yeezy 700 Static on Instagram or Gigi Hadid, and Kendall Jenner papped in every magazine wearing numerous variations on the trend, and for the majority, the unisex gender-neutral nature of these releases is one of the most appealing things about them. High fashion today is all about “duality, ambiguity and fluidity” and although that might not mean much to you or me, it has filtered down into the streetwear world and unquestionably influences the aesthetic of the trainers that are now dominating the market. These shoes when worn deliver an edgy compare and contrast amongst many of the wearers polished looks – models on the catwalk in elegant outfits offset by these bulky creations, or statement pieces to complete your favourite rap artist’s look on stage. The style is almost repped ironically, an in-joke for everyone who wears them, highlighting that fashion is really anything you make it.
Fanny packs and bike shorts have both made comebacks in the fashion world, and it’s the 1980s, and 1990s inspired thinking that has made the “Dad Shoe” such a hit. History repeats itself, trends come and go, then come again, and the reimagining of this trend has come at the perfect time, falling into place alongside one of the most prevalent concepts in fashion today; “normcore” – the idea that has been interpreted as a reaction to fashion oversaturation resulting from ever-faster changing fashion trends. This undistinguished underrated style has somehow in an exciting juxtaposition made the uncool cool, and it is heavyweight designers like Kanye West of Yeezy fame who have helped redefine what a popular trainer looks like in 2019.
Adidas now leads the way in the streetwear world championing this chunky philosophy, since the Yeezy 700s debuted in late 2017 on the Yeezy Season 5 runway show, every brand worth their salt has looked to develop their own version of the “Dad Shoe”. The Yeezy 700 Inertia to me is, without a doubt, one of the most aesthetically appealing shoes of its generation. Nike came in strong with the Nike Monarch revival as well as a contemporary reimagining of that very trainer which took the form of the M2K Tekno. Fila created the Disruptor, Puma came up with the Thunder Spectra, and even Adidas despite setting the pace in the market, developed the Yung-1 to run alongside the Yeezy range. We won’t be 2 years on from the release of the Balenciaga Triple S until September and yet in this small space of time how the landscape has changed.
Find out more about the ‘Dad Shoe’ revolution and other online trainer related content with us here at Laced.