The ‘Dad’ shoe, the universal symbol of boring, drab, ‘beige’ ugly footwear associated with shouting at children on holidays.
The Dad shoe craze came to fruition thanks to the equally banal trend of ‘Normcore’, the subversion of branded and high fashion garments that eventually high fashion adopted too, just like the chunky runner. Whilst fashion and technology are at their peak of partnership generating the lightest, slimmest and streamlined design yet, the nihilists amongst us are obsessed with taking us back to basics, for better or worse.
Margiela Security Runner
Whilst the epitome of the chunky style is personified by Nike‘s beyond basic Air Monarch, the highest of the fashionable brands have invested considerable time in to creating the most luxuriously bulbous silhouette’s known to feet, and Margiela has hit the dad shoe high lights with their update to the Security Sneaker in the form of the Security Runner. You won’t see anyone breaking the 100m record in these.
Drawing inspiration once more from military surplus gear, this time from the 90s, the Maison present this all-terrain trainer in a mixture of premium leather and suede with ballistic nylon underlays. A far cry from the sleekness of the iconic Replica Sneaker, the Security Sneaker boasts a bulbous, front-heavy silhouette, toughened up with the addition of texturised rubber bumpers to the heel and toe, and — brace yourself — steel toe caps for that true mil-surp feel. The lacing, too, is its own talking point, with elasticated laces held in place with additional elasticated lacing coils, portraying the DIY aesthetic that’s been Maison’s hallmark since its inception. All this rides on a sole unit reminiscent of their Retro Runner, with the aggressive cleated outsole tying together the off-road look perfectly.
adidas x Raf Simmons Replicant Ozweego
Producing his Ozweego silhouette with the help of Adidas since 2013, Raf Simons has seen his outrageous designs become one of the early adopters of high fashions obsession with chunk. The Replicant, as this delightfully extroverted edition is referred to, takes the absolute biscuit in regards to superfluous design features and that’s why the shoe succeeds as the subverter that it is. Everything about the composition of the sneaker is so anti-aesthetic, even down to the triggering factory lacing, that the Replicant has forced itself into the queue at the Supreme store for it’s ‘look at me, please’ exterior.
Always a master of mixing high and low fashion, Belgian design legend Raf Simons has a long-lasting pedigree when it comes to designing sneakers; Simons can arguably be credited with the popularisation of the high-fashion sneaker through his collections with Dior and his own label. But it was the long-running collaboration with adidas that has spawned one of the designers most beloved creations: the chunky, outrageous Ozweego. It’s been five years since the silhouette’s debut, and since then the Ozweego’s bulbous, self-consciously ugly design has proven to be a blueprint for high-fashion sneakers of contemporary times: oversized, ostentatious and excessive, reflective of Simons’ obsession with the American psyche.
Not a stranger to the fatherly designs (see adidas x Raf Simmons & the Yeezy series) adidas has put their paternal prestige to the ironically named Yung-1. As much as adidas have got their fingerprints all over the death of fashion as we know it, the 3 stripes brand were late adopters of their own inline chunky runners, competitors like Nike & New Balance never stopped churning out their big 90s runners and now they finally have competition from adidas in that regard.
While not strictly a re-release, the YUNG-1 shares much of its DNA with adidas’ Falcon Dorf runner from 1997, with only slight tweaks to the silhouette and branding, and an overhaul of the materials and cushioning to bring it in line with its new lifestyle orientation. Displaying asymmetrical panelling in a mixture of premium suede, synthetic nubuck and mesh, set atop a bulky yet lightweight sole unit, the YUNG-1 makes a major statement on-foot while retaining all-day comfort.
New Balance 991.5
The Homer Simpson of the sneaker world, New Balance as a company has been a dad since the dawn of time and that’s an association that will never change. Steve Jobs, the dad-iest looking dad of all dad history is the unofficial brand ambassador of the company thanks to his penchant for New Balance 990s. Whilst trying to update the profile to a sleeker hybrid design, New Balance has created the 991.5, combining the 991 and 1500 into one high performing athletic vehicle. We’re talking 0 to armchair in under a second.
Mixing a luxury selection of pigskin suedes and mesh resting on the low profile 1500 encap sole. Stitched branding locates itself in the medial area of the shoe, finished with the token big N branding
Polo Ralph Lauren Sneakers
Stretching for a piece of the testosterone pie is Polo Ralph Lauren, recreating the athletic stylings of the American greats like New Balance and Nike whilst placing their own layered panels of suede, leather and mesh, plus reinforced heel pads to strip all the athletic ability out of the silhouette. With an authentically dad brand lending their dad like sensibilities to a dad like shoe, it’s a match made in dad heaven (a shuddering thought).
Constructed from a blend of lightweight nylon with premium suede panelling that calls to mind New Balance at their 90s heyday, the Train100 rides on a lightweight EVA sole unit with a TPU heel clip for extra stability. Cushioning is handled by the brand’s proprietary RLite technology coupled with a leather footbed for a touch of luxury, while one of the brand’s signature vintage ‘Polo Dry Goods’ labels appears to the tongue for a hit of retro Americana appeal.