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


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.