The Rise Of The “Ugly” Sneaker

It’s 2018 on a sunny day in the streets of Braamfontein, Juta Street to be specific and I see my peers around me strolling in biker shorts, fanny packs, formal pants and sneakers that look like they were stolen from my dad, but in 1986! I suddenly felt out of place with my classic Vans that I just got not so long ago. As the year went by, the rise of these “ugly” sneakers grew and I began to see them not only in Braam but EVERYWHERE. Was I asleep when this trend started?!

It’s actually very hard to identify who and when exactly a trend started, but most people started to notice the “ugly” sneaker, but according to Jane Buckinghamn, founder and CEO of trend forecasting and consulting company, Trendera, brands such as Adidas and Nike started implementing the “ugly dad sneaker” over a year ago.”Dad shoes/ugly sneakers” are characterised by their chunky soles, thick uppers and unorthodox patterns & colour combinations. I believe this specific look was inevitable from the times where comfort and ‘athleisure’ were the hottest trend and this makes sense because essentially, that is what the sneaker represents. 




There could be many reasons why a sneaker style like this one is “in” right now. In the psychology of fashion, it is said that we don’t really pay attention to what is perceived as “normal” or conventional. In other words, you could bet all your money that I wasn’t the centre of attention with my classic Vans in Braam on that sunny day. Fashion enthusiasts are always looking for innovative ways to stand out from everyone else, aka Peacocking, and to be seen as brave by their choice of style. Social Media Influence is a huge part of why certain trends grow so much. For instance, if you see your favourite fashion/style influencer or even celebrity wearing a dad sneaker, you will most probably ease into the idea the more you see it, because you trust your fave’s style choices, almost as how a student trusts his teacher. 

The fashion industry is about taking risks and trying something new and different so I see nothing wrong with this trend. If you are a style expressionist, you most probably have a pair in your shoe wardrobe or thinking of getting one (i.e. Me). It has now become so easily accessible, but obviously depending on your price range, you could get one from Balenciaga, Nike, FILA to even Mr. Price (we all know they never stay behind). 

I’ve seen others pair this sneaker with formal suits to t-shirt dresses and it’s interesting to see how people assimilate the shoe into their personal styles. With that being said, how do you wear your “ugly/dad” kicks?

Article written by Olwethu Ngodela and first appeared on 

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