It's Not Just You: This "Ugly" Sneaker Trend Is Everywhere


(Image credit: Collage Vintage)

Sometimes there's a trend that's just so bad that it's good. For me this season, it's the "ugly" sneakers you've spotted on many a street style star over the last few months. I have a feeling anyone but my dad (who really does wear shoes that look like this) would offer nothing more than a puzzled look when pressed about the rise tech sneakers, but there's something so charming about them I can't resist.

While I admit the clunky soles and unpolished details could easily skew unflattering, on the feet of fashion's top trendsetters, they feel surprisingly cool. But what's the real appeal? In part, the shoes give me flashes of nostalgia for the chunky Sketchers I wore as a typical '90s child. And as we see the '80s power suit and '90s grunge resurfacing these days, so too have retro sneakers come back to haunt us.

But besides a love of the things we wore when we were young, the sneakers are part of a greater shift across the industry. Over the past few seasons, we've seen fashion move away from the pervasive minimalism of the earlier aughts, skewing into two distinct directions: a romantic ultra-feminism, and a playful, referential vein that seems to be constantly poking fun at itself and the fashion industry as a whole (the Vetements effect, if we'd so desire to give it a name). These sneakers toe the thin line—while there will be those who can't stand the trend, that quirkiness will draw others in. So are you ready to take the plunge? We're showing off a few ways to style them below, and then shopping out our favorite pairs.


(Image credit: Adam Katz Sinding)

Style the sneakers with an elegant skirt for a cool contrast.


(Image credit: Adam Katz Sinding)

Embrace the athleisure trend by styling them with sweats.


(Image credit: Collage Vintage)

A polished suit and sneakers looks oh so cool.


(Image credit: Collage Vintage)

Black sneakers fly under the radar.


(Image credit: Collage Vintage)

Don't be afraid to pair them with sleeker pieces like a polished suede coat.


(Image credit: Collage Vintage)

Chunky sneakers look cool balanced out with a miniskirt or short dress.


(Image credit: Collage Vintage)

Try balancing out romantic hues like pink with chunky statement sneakers. 


(Image credit: Collage Vintage)

Use the sneakers as commuter shoes. 


(Image credit: @emilisindlev)

Try color coordinating for a cool twist.

Aemilia Madden