A design icon that’s responsible for some of the most coveted sneakers in your collection, Steven Smith is a name you need to know. Responsible for style staples like the legendary Reebok Instapump Fury and the New Balance 1500, it’s a little-known fact that the design guru is also the brains behind this season’s must-have New Balance 550 and Yeezy’s crowd-favourite Yeezy Boost 700 Wave Runner. The undisputed godfather of the Dad-shoe trend, Smith utilises his passion for running and automotive design to deliver industry-leading sneakers that put a focus on performance, as well as style.
With New Balance currently leading the pack with endless “Dad shoe” silhouettes, we’re taking a look at the evolution of the most in-demand trend of the moment. Made famous by the likes of Steve Jobs and adopted by fashion insiders like Bella Hadid and A$AP Rocky, “Dad shoes” have become so synonymous with fashion, New Balance even launched a now-iconic “Worn by Dads in Ohio and supermodels in London” campaign.
Defining characteristics of a “Dad shoe” include a chunky sole, sporty aesthetic and casual appeal, and Steven Smith’s New Balance 1500, NB550 and Yeezy Boost 700 all fall into this category. The 1989-designed NB1500 was made for varied sports – from basketball and tennis to running and training – but it’s 1989’s New Balance 550 that’s taking the world by storm in 2022. Not long after its debut in the ‘80s, the 550 fell behind the success of the Nike Air Force 1 and Air Jordan 1, so soon fell into the New Balance archive as a forgotten basketball relic. Fast forward to 2020, when the sneaker industry was gasping for a breath of fresh air, and Aimé Leon Dore’s Teddy Santis put his street-ready spin on the retro 550, catapulting it into the spotlight and securing its place as the most coveted kick on the planet. Although it doesn’t follow the usual characteristics of a chunky “Dad shoe”, the 550 marks the start of a fresh take on the trend, ready for the next generation of dads to wear to BBQs, on the school run and to that Sunday roast at the pub.
Another new-school take on the “Dad shoe” trend is Smith’s Yeezy Boost 700 Wave Runner. Heralded as the best sneaker to ever come out of the adidas x Kanye West partnership, the Yeezy Boost 700 Wave Runner holds industry-leading Boost cushioning in its thick sole, while breathable mesh, suede and leather make up the upper. Colour-blocking gives the sneaker its signature eye-catching look, while the overall sporty aesthetic makes it a must-have for every style inclination.
Driven by a desire to surprise consumers and shake up the existing landscape of sneakers, Smith’s stamp on the “Dad shoe” trend that’s now synonymous with cool city-ready style puts him in the line-up of some of the most iconic designers of a generation. Where we have Kilgore to thank for the Air Force 1, and Tinker for the Air Max 90, it’s Smith that deserves all the adulation for the New Balance 550 that’s taken over your shoedrobe this season.