The demand for athleisure does not seem to be slowing anytime soon as consumers look increasingly towards style, practicality, and convenience when purchasing a gym outfit. Sportswear is more than just an attire to wear when working out; consumers want something that can bring them to the gym, office, and lunch appointments. This means that not only is a presentable and comfortable crop top extremely important, a solid (and fashionable) pair of kicks is paramount too.
Till date, we’ve seen how sportswear and the fashion industry have constantly borrowed from each other, as with the perennial Adidas-designed Stan Smith tennis shoes that have now reached coveted cult sneaker status, and Champion’s best-selling Reverse Weave sweatshirt that was powered by the ‘90s nostalgia trend on runways. But noticeably, in the footwear world, where buyers used to look for sleek and subtle, they now want bold and loud.
We’re talking about dad shoes — or chunky sneakers, ugly sneakers, and turbo trainers. They’re characterised by their massive soles, thick uppers, and Nineties patterns your dad would probably approve of. Simply put, they’re extra cushioned, oversized, and the opposite of everything minimalism stands for. While this flamboyant and ostentatious footwear trend has its fair share of haters, it’s also adored by many celebrities and models, like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid. Dad shoes have also been said to bear a resemblance to running shoes — which makes perfect sense for this super-chunky sneaker trend to grace the streets and fitness studios.
So what else is causing this increase in popularity? Many have credited the revival of dad shoes to Balenciaga’s Triple S trainer, which comes in an oversized fit, washed effect, and embossed logo of the luxury fashion house. It should also be noted that many haute couture brands have also proceeded to release their own version of dad shoes, such as Raf Simons’ Ozweego, Louis Vuitton’s Archlight, and Gucci’s Rhyton.
There are also plenty of activewear alternatives around, including the New Balance 624, perhaps the most classic dad shoe around. While it’s not as flashy compared to what’s on the market right now, it’s an OG design real dads probably wore back in the days for sporting activities.
The Nike Air Monarch IV stands to qualify as the OG dad shoe too. This is a unisex training shoe with lightweight cushioning and durable support, supported with a thick sole and leather upper. It’s known as the king of all dad shoes, has an Instagram page dedicated to it (@teammonarch) and will definitely pick up due to engagement on social media. In fact, if you’re looking something with evergreen value, the Monarch is probably your best bet.
The Instagram crowd would probably notice and own a pair of Fila Disruptors. Not only are they oh-so-white (a sneaker bonus!), they come with a large EVA midsole and thick padding. Admittedly, Fila has been known to release items more towards the fashionable side, so whether or not the Disruptors make for a good pair of workout shoes remain to be uncovered.
Now comes the loud colours — as if dad shoes aren’t attention seeking enough, brands seek to catapult this trend further by coming up with bold, bright shades. Those born in the ‘80s might remember the Saucony Shadow Original. While the version today still has the suede, ’90s-esque padded collar and tongue, it’s now painted in a beautiful wine with a modern EVA midsole that provides cushioning and absorbs shock.
You can credit Kanye West for a lot of things, one of it being making the dad shoe cool with his collaboration with Adidas. The Yeezy 500 is a combination of leather, sue, and mesh and is a very utilitarian style shoe — very fitting if your overall style is street oriented.
While it seems clear that the dad shoe trend is here to stay, could we see other sneaker styles emerging? Dad shoes aren’t necessarily the best for squats and deadlifts due to its cushioned soles; so while this chunky sneaker will thrive in the HIIT and cardio world, it would be interesting to see this show-stopping footwear dominate a different sport such as hiking.