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Why Ugly Sneakers are Trending in 2023

July 16, 2023 2:21 PM
Why Ugly Sneakers are Trending in 2023

Having an 'ugly sneaker' sounds like something no one wants voluntarily. Yet in 2023, the term 'ugly sneaker' is more relevant than ever before. With brands like MSCHF coming out with unique and somewhat comical designs and the return of Crocs, having unaesthetic sneakers seems to be a positive thing these days. Why are people suddenly drawn to buying crazy silhouettes?

The 'ugly sneakers' trend

Sneakers come in all shapes, sizes, and designs. With thousands of models on the market, there is something for everyone. Classics like the Nike Air Max 1, New Balance 990, or adidas Superstar are generally considered beautiful or respected sneakers. Now the world of sneakers seems to have made a switch.

Balenciaga Triple S l Image END.

Nowadays it is an art to design or buy ugly sneakers. The trend started in 2017, when designer Demna Gvasalia, Creative Director at Balenciaga, introduced the Triple S model. The sneaker took its inspiration from the well-known 'dad shoe,' think retro New Balance models, and came with a chunky midsole.

The Triple S was quickly embraced by the sneaker community. Love it or hate it, the Balenciaga sneaker started an era centred around the motto 'the crazier, the better'. The term 'ugly sneakers' includes models from all kinds of brands that have a remarkable design.

What characterises an ugly sneaker

Despite the fact that the term 'ugly sneaker' does not have an actual definition, there are some things that characterize these sneakers. The models often have exaggerated details and a wide, chunky midsole. The sneakers are reminiscent of the pairs you might find in your father's closet, but just a tad more eccentric.

Asics UB3-S Gel Nimbus 9
YEEZY 450 'Stone Flax'

Besides having a chunky design, colours also play a big role in the world of ugly sneakers. The most diverse colours are brought together on the uppers. Take a look at the recent colorways of various ASICS models.

Since the advent of the Balenciaga Triple S, more brands have continued the trend in their own collections. One brand that stands out is MSCHF, a creative collective based in Brooklyn, New York. The brand is known for its insane designs, including the Big Red Boot, the Gobstomper, and the Backward-Forward sneaker, where the sneaker can be put on two ways.


MSCHF's designs may be very over the top, but they do set the tone. Brands like adidas, Nike, and ASICS seem to be following suit, each releasing their own form of ugly sneaker. Crocs also seem to be coming back, much to the fear of many.

Sneaker releases 2023

A lot of 'ugly' sneakers have already been released in 2023. Recently, PUMA introduced the Velophasis, a model that takes inspiration from the running shoes of the 1990s. PUMA's Voltaire silhouette is also a good example of an ugly sneaker.

adidas AdiFOM Q 'Craft Ochre'
adidas AdiFOM Q 'Craft Ochre'

In addition to PUMA's releases, adidas also seems to be playing along with this trend. The recent introduction of the AdiFom Q model is a good example of the ugly sneakers of adidas. The model has an exaggerated silhouette and features dynamic, rubber overlays on the upper, giving the sneaker a unique look.

YEEZY Boost 700 'Hi-Res Red'
Yeezy 700 V3 'Copper Fade'
YEEZY 700 V3 'Copper Fade'

The releases of YEEZY, the brand of adidas and Ye, also embrace the ugly sneakers trend. Ye's creative vision has brought us many unique silhouettes, but some models have some people questioning them. The YEEZY 450 is a good example, or the Boost 700, which, by the way, is a favourite of many.

Nike M2K Tekno
Nike M2K Tekno 'John Elliot'
Nike Air Footscape Woven 'Cow'
Nike Air Footscape Woven 'Cow'

Nike also has its share of trends. Despite the fact that many of the brand's silhouettes are much loved, there are some that secretly have something distinctive about them. The M2K Tekno model is one of these and is reminiscent of the Balenciaga Triple S with its distinctive midsole. The comeback of the Nike Air Footscape Woven is also a special release of 2023.

Comfort comes first

A recurring feature of ugly sneakers is comfort. Most sneakers that fall under this term come with distinctive soles that not only give the pair a unique touch but also provide comfort. But not only sneakers can provide comfort. It seems that comfortable slides, slippers, or mules are also becoming increasingly popular.

YEEZY Slide 'Flax'
YEEZY Foam RNNR 'Stone Sage'

The YEEZY Slide introduced in 2018 seems to have been the instigator of this. The Slide has a chunky outsole that not only provides comfort but also gives the model a unique look. Shortly after the Slide, adidas introduced the Foam RNNR, a nightmare of many sneaker lovers.

Salehe Bembury with the Crocs Pollex Clogs l Image Crocs

The recent release of the Nike Air More Uptempo Slide also definitely fits into the list of comfortable but ugly models. In addition, models from Birkenstock and Crocs are also back on the scene. The Birkenstock Boston, previously worn mainly by grandpas, is wildly popular, as are Crocs' colourful designs.

Although the sneakers mentioned above can be described as ugly, this does not mean that they actually are. Tastes differ, and secretly we are fans of striking and unusual sneakers.

Should you be looking for your next sneaker, ugly or not, take a look at our release calendar.