In a recent turn of events, an unusual competitor has challenged the norm of what most fashion insiders have considered a “trendy or stylish” choice of footwear. In an unlikely set of circumstances, the “ugly dad sneaker” has been displaying massive popularity with vigor as of late.
Since the release of the Ozweego in 2013, a chunky $300 Adidas sneaker that emulated popular vintage Adidas footwear by none other than Raf Simons, accompanied by reworked 1990s models of New Balance and Sketchers sneakers, the traditionally “ugly sneaker” has left both fashion followers and sneakerheads enamored with the unexpected combinations of mesh and rubber.
One prominent, overarching theme that has managed to delve into every nook of the fashion industry is that of street luxe — the mingling of streetwear and high fashion. Fashion trends come and go, but this one is here to stay. Ranging from fashion week to runways to city streets, a variety of casual-cool sneakers, hoodies and caps adorn the fashion-goers of 2017. New interpretations of streetwear can be found by designers at every price point, all of them adding their own personal touches to the originally subdued culture, but now widely accepted aesthetic.
“It’s street in the sense that I’m self-taught,” said Jerry Lorenzo, designer of the streetwear label Fear of God, about his craft. “And, in the sense we don’t belong to a fashion house or have access to any resources outside of our own. No investors, no partners, etc. The product is pure as we’re not on the fashion calendar and our product is 100 percent a reflection of our perspective and capabilities.”
Certain labels of streetwear have undeniable authenticity, but it’s hard to ignore the street luxe pieces featured on the runways. Along the runway of the Lanvin spring 2018 menswear show in Paris, models sported a variety of casual-cool sneakers. One element that stood out among the rest were the shoelaces featured on one pair, which were highly reminiscent of a hiking shoe.
Similarly, a vast majority of the models walking in the Dior Homme spring 2018 show were wearing sneakers that closely resemble the New Balance 619 Cross Trainer Sneaker, which has been the subject of mockery for years due to its association with fathers and, ultimately, the epitome of an “ugly dad sneaker.” Rather than emulating the style of a dad coaching his grade-school child’s baseball team, the fresh, street-luxe sneakers of Lanvin and Dior Homme make for an undoubtedly cool look when paired with tailored-sportswear hybrids and military/workwear-inspired pieces.
The formula for making traditionally “ugly” shoes appear stylish is still puzzling, and most fashion gurus have yet to solve the equation. In retrospect, it seems trivial that streetwear is still being considered a trend. It’s not a trend anymore; it’s a movement.