It used to be the slim cut types that were all the rage. Flyknits, both Racers and Trainers, Stan Smiths in all sorts of colours and materials, NMDs, from the runner variations to the City Sock types, all echo roughly a similar design language that was the height of it’s time. The last of this trend, arguably would be the Nike Vapormax, and that too didn’t last long, especially with Nike now pushing through the more chunky Air Max models, reiterating the Air Max 270, and celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Air Max 98 with Air Max Day right around the corner.
Chunky sneakers though, has always been in the background while the bubble of hype surrounds the modern looking designs, but has since enjoyed a comeuppance into the spotlight with the introduction of high fashion models such as the Balenciaga Triple S, Yeezy 700 Wave Runner, and Raf Simons Ozweego III to name a few, but its roots can be traced back from the 90s to the early noughties.
A major influence for the creation of the chunky sneaker can be traced back to basketball, where the often intense amounts of footwork performed during a game required the shoe to have ample ankle support and wide base for maximum grip on the hardwood during fast turns in order to outpace the opponent. An obvious example of this would be the Nike Air Uptempo and Air Jordan 6. The bulky designs also carried over to the skating scene, with skaters needing the same type of support and traction, with the features being most prominent on Etnies and Osiris shoes of old.
It then fell back below the limelight as sporty and light lifestyle silhouettes took over in the late 2000s, and are now back in full resurgence, from high fashion houses. As with music, fashion itself too is an unpredictable cycle. What may seem to be “cool” now is completely void once new trends pick up. Much is the same with chunky sneakers back on top of the rotation, and its popularity is fast spreading. Many attribute the new wave to the original Ozweego by Raf Simons, but the trend skyrocketed almost vertically when Balenciaga debuted the Triple S, selling out even when distributed to very select retailers worldwide.
You’ll come to notice, that while the shoes were exposed to major fashion runways all over the world, streetwear enthusiasts were the ones to pick up and built the hype around the shoe, immediately foreshadowing the likes of sleek silhouettes in a shroud of darkness. So what exactly started the trend? A few have speculated that it all started from Ian Connor, who persisted on wearing Skechers in his instagram photos, and proceeded to spark interest amongst his followers, but then again, the Ozweegos have been in the game for some time, undergoing several iterations along the way, along with New Balance, whose product line majorly consisting of Dad shoes.
Whatever it is, the bridge between street and high fashion is closing, and to the untrained eye, the lines blur even more, as the younger generations are assimilating bits and pieces of high fashion into their daily styles. While it’s huge in the United States now, the trend is still in its relative infancy here, as most are still tied down to SBs and Jordans, but it will probably be soon before long that we see a bigger rise in people wearing Nike Air Monarchs or Gucci Dad Sneakers at the next Sneakerlah.