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The 'Ugly' Sneaker Trend and the Best Models

June 13, 2021 4:00 PM
The 'Ugly' Sneaker Trend and the Best Models

Sometimes fashion goes underground. First shoulder pads come back, then the white tennis socks that our grandfathers used to wear in their sandals. It's been a few years since sneakers first stole onto the feet of it-girls and finally onto those of models on international catwalks. By now, the 'Ugly' sneaker trend has probably reached everyone. Let's take a closer look at the phenomenon and the best silhouettes. Look forward to the Nike Zoom 2k, the Nike Air Huarache and the Air Max 95 and 97, the adidas Equipment Gazelle and the Yeezy 500 or the Karhu Fusion 2.0.

It all began with…

… the luxury version of Balenciaga or with the sporty ASICS at the Fashion Week in Copenhagen!

The hype around the Ugly Sneaker started around January 2017 when designer Demna Gvasalia - always up for a joke - sent the Triple S down the Balenciaga catwalk. The fashion world was taken aback by the chunky shoes with the striking rubber sole and the waiting lists were endless. From models to stars to influencers, everyone seemed to have a Triple S.

New York Times fashion journalist Vanessa Friedmann sees the starting point even earlier, in 2014 and the launch of the Chanel sneaker by Karl Lagerfeld. That was the first time a high-end sneaker was presented as part of a designer collection.

Ugly Sneaker Trend
Chunky Sneaker

More than dusty sneakers from dad's wardrobe?

To trace it back even further: Raf Simons x adidas with Ozweego were the first to release sneakers where a sports giant collaborated with a designer. This collab was followed by designers from Virgil Abloh to Riccardo Tisci, and designer houses such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Dior have also jumped on the bandwagon. The meeting of high fashion and street culture is the most relevant move in the world today and a place where Balenciaga and Sketchers can compete in the same space.

But if we're being accurate, the trend starts much earlier, namely with the namesakes of this style direction: our dads.

It's probably one of the biggest fashion comebacks from the beloved 90s. As the name suggests, dad sneakers were mainly worn by dads because of their comfort. Back then, however, the clunky shoes were certainly not a fashion statement, but rather the epitome of uncoolness. Important pioneers for the trend of expansive comfort are of course the brand New Balance.

The 'Ugly' Sneaker Trend = Realism instead of Perfection

As a normal mortal, you rarely understand the looks that are celebrated on the international catwalks, because you often can't call the creations suitable for everyday life. Sometimes you really get the impression: the uglier the better. Crocs, fanny packs, jogging trousers, ugly sneakers. There is no longer a fashion no-go.

Ugly Sneaker Guide
Matthew Sperzel (Getty Images)

In 2018, the hype peaked, or rather reached its ceiling, according to Friedmann. She writes: "After four and a half years, the fashion sneaker has reached absolute absurdity." As we now know, of course, she was wrong. Chunky sneakers are still all the rage.

The philosophy of the heatedly discussed trend is very valuable here: away with false perfection, towards more reality and real self-confidence. Everything is allowed in love and fashion!

Just like realism, nostalgia plays a major role in this development. Retro has been in demand for a long time and so the hype around ugliness is bringing the pieces from the 80s and 90s, which had already been declared dead, onto the covers of the fashion magazines, the streets of the fashion metropolises and the clothes rails of fashion enthusiasts.

Nike Dad Sneaker

No shoe list without Nike, of course, whereby many silhouettes of the Swoosh Brand could be considered chunky (and also ugly, what do you think?)? These include the Air Max 720 and the Air Max 270, and you can also add the React Vision.

The Nike Zoom 2K brings you back to the 00s and the best of the classic running shoe. While the oversized heel and logos give off a retro vibe, the 'wings' give the shoe a modern twist.

Zoom 2K


Nike WMNS Zoom 2K

Available at 2 webshops
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Nike Zoom 2k
Ian Bettany

M2K Tekno


Nike WMNS M2K Tekno

Available at 5 webshops
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Nike "M2K Tekno"

Available at 4 webshops
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Nike Sneaker Style


Nike Huarache

Air Max 95 and Air Max 97

Ugly sneaker Trend
Ugly Sneaker Trend

Fila Disruptor

The Fila Disruptor is a real chunky sneaker. With its bold design, it goes well with skinny jeans, but also with flowing skirts or dresses. But we especially like this co-ord outfit and wide leg pants.

Fila Chunky Sneaker Style

Ugly Sneaker von adidas

These two adidas silhouettes are also popular among the Skandi girls, like Pernille Teisbaek and Jeanette Madsen. The Falcon is also inspired by the 90s and is an exclusive eye-catcher for girls. Both models are comfortable thanks to the Torsion technology.

The adidas EQT Gazelle is a modern reimagining of adidas' most eye-catching running design from the 90s. We also count the Yeezy 500 as an Ugly Sneaker.

There's always room for debate about taste, but the new Yeezy Foam Runners are a truly innovative design. Unfortunately, the models from the Kayne West collab are extremely popular, which is why you can only get your hands on them via resell platforms.



adidas Yung-1

Available at 1 webshop
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Chunky Sneaker


Chunky Sneaker Trend

adidas EQT Gazelle

adidas equipment Gazelle

Yeezy 500

adidas yeezy 500

Puma Sneaker Trends

PUMA also has some great chunky sneaker models for us that belong to the RS range.


Puma RS-X³ Luxe

Available at 3 webshops
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Puma RS Dad Sneaker

Karhu Fusion 2.0

The Finnish brand Karhu translates as 'bear' into German and has its roots in the running sector. That's why they have over 100 years of experience with running and outdoor products.

Karhu Fusion Chunky Sneaker