13 Pairs Of Awesomely Stylish Ugly Sneakers
13 Awesomely Ugly Sneakers You’ll Want To Add To Your Collection
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Most times when we pick out a new pair of shoes, it’s because there’s a sick new color or a sleek style that’s just dropped. But this season we’re grabbing shoes left and right just because… they’re ugly! (You heard me…I’m talking trash about your shoes.) It all started (sigh) with supermodels, who were spotted wearing comfy, chunky “dad shoes,” after putting in long hours on the runway. That’s right. Lose the Louboutins, shoo the Choos, and get rid of the Guccis. The newest thing in footwear is a pair of 1990s, grunge-era sneakers that would make Nurse Ratched proud.
Is it the evolution of Normcore? Has the ugly Christmas sweater trend just migrated South? Fashion news site WWD declared releases from Balenciaga, Dior Homme, and Raf Simons Adidas Originals collaboration as “Ugly…Not Only for Dad,” back in August 2017. Prada introduced the Crossection sneaker back in January, which streetwear blog High Snobiety promptly declared as being “ugly in all the right ways,” and since then, all mitts—er, socks—are off.
The chunky-but-funky trend has slipped into men’s shoes, too, and here is our list of Summer 2018’s best bets for “ugly” sneakers that are actually awesome.
What Makes A Sneaker Ugly?
- Thicker soles: Look for chunky, angular soles that were originally developed to provide cushioning and support to runners
- White details: Blinding white materials, evocative of nurse shoes
- “Dirty” looks: Gray or ecru dustings of color to simulate wear and tear
- Vibrant, saturated color: Combinations we haven’t seen since the Clinton administration.
- Tubular laces: Thick laces, often with hits of contrast color
- Complicated lacing systems: Grommets, secure closures, contrast aiglets…all a plus.
- Retro silhouettes: Mesh toe box, contrast outsole, and puffy uppers
- Generational approval: If your grandpa likes ‘em, BUY ‘EM!
The Sneakers That Master The Trend
Reebok Classic Nylon
Your father probably wore these very shoes for track practice…in the 1980s. Our only dilemma is picking out which of the four colors we want. Of course at $65, why not get all of them? The Platinum/Blue combo hits just the right note of dusky, yet clunky; while the White/Light Grey mix just hints at being a little bit dirty, a little bit sterile. The Navy or Black options hit that just the right note of “I wore sneakers to my prom.” You rebel, you.
$65.00 at Reebok.com
Veja V10 Leather Sneakers
For a lighter, cleaner version of the Dad trend, we like these cleanly-styled Veja classics. The white upper and perforated leather toebox is just enough of a throwback style, and the turquoise (Okay…Swedish Blue) accents seal the deal. Veja’s sustainable and responsible approach to manufacturing makes these “ugly” sneakers positively beautiful.
$140.00 at EastDane.com
Nike Vapor Street Flyknit QS
Veering away from clean and neat, the Vapor Knit features a solid sole with a grungy, spattered concrete look,while a light herringbone pattern carved into the sides hints at their light as a feather construction. The incisor-like heel counter is positively Jurassic. Nike-philes will love the oversized logo looping down off the Flyknit upper and onto the sole.
$180.00 at Unkwn.com
P448 Mixed Runner
Italian luxury streetwear brand P448 is right on trend with a chunky shape that looks totally modern, channeling the shoes your grandpa wears for his morning walks. The crackled, honeycomb and speckled finishes are completely retro, as is the dark turquoise and orange color combo: that suede and mesh combo is very tactile. The safety orange tongue is the crowning touch. There’s so much going on in this shoe, it’s almost too much, and that’s why we love it.
$275.00 at EastDane.com
Puma Thunder Electric
Puma’s brand-spanking-new Thunder Electric is a monster of a shoe. It’s clean lines and oversized proportions echo a killer whale’s bold, black graphic markings, but in fact, the design is inspired by human anatomy to provide a “rib-cage” effect. The swirly sole is like a lava flow for your feet; while bright, graffiti-like accents and a speckled outer sole with Zolatone-like finishes provide a true throwback to the late ‘80s.
$120.00 at Puma.com
Reebok DMX Run 10
Reebok combined some of its most popular athleisure shoe styles into one Frankenstein of a ‘90s throwback, with an outsole that glows like blue gel toothpaste. Don’t miss those snake-like laces that are securely fastened with a branded grommet at the last eyelet. The the thick, ski-slope profile midsole, complete with ventilation holes, will keep you feeling like you’re walkin’ on sunshine.
$140.00 at Reebok.com
Converse X Golf Le Fleur
Candy Pink and Orange Peel is a color combo that we could only imagine would be seen on a 1970s-era golf course…or something that would come from the mind of impresario Tyler, The Creator. The floral suede detail also makes them perfect for celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Summer of Love. At $100, they’re one of our most affordable entry-points into the world of ugly…but don’t blame us if you’re suddenly feeling a need to do a Dunkin’ Donuts run.
$100.00 at Unknwn.com
New Balance 574 Sport
New Balance practically wrote the book on resurrecting the nerd shoe, but we’re seriously torn between the “Dusted Peach” and “Storm Blue” color combinations of the 574, although each carries the faintest whiff of Miami Vice. They offer all the right “nurse-y” earth-tone accents we love, and feature a positively architectural 3-D pattern on the sole.
$109.99 at NewBalance.com
Nike Flyknit Trainer
The Nike Flyknit, with its sleek and modern silhouette, is getting an honorary mention in the “ugly” trend for its Velvet Brown/Neutral Olive colorway. The combination of the military-inspired palette and spray-paint effect on the Nike Swoosh is a total 90s throwback. We also love the bright contrast outsole. Get ‘em in the white on white with gum outsole combo to be a true purist.
$150.00 at Nike.com
Adidas EQT Support Adv
Literally a ‘90s throwback for Adidas, these were originally developed as high-performance runners, but now incorporate a cozy sock-like upper. The TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) support piece wrapping around the ankle gives the shoe a positively orthopedic vibe. We’re partial to the clean, white minimalism of this pair…but another featuring the iconic Adidas stripes in red, white, and blue have us already thinking about Independence Day.
$140.00 at Adidas.com
New Balance 990v4
New Balance’s classic runner is a triumph of minimalism in a maximalist state. The 990v4 has all the chunkiness we want, and the Gray with Castlerock color combo has that pre-soiled, broken-in look. It’s Made in the USA, so watch out because your Dad really will want to steal these from you, but the style has a geek-chic appeal that works for the tech guru in all of us.
$174.99 at NewBalance.com
Golden Goose Slide High Top
We know, we know…you’re paying this much for a pair of shoes that are already dirty? Think of them as having instant character…and you don’t even have to add water. It’s like buying rip-and-repair jeans for your feet. We love the smooth, sloping silhouette and the neo-punk side zipper that take naturally to city streets. The aging reflects the appreciation for antiques of the Golden Goose brand’s home in Venice, Italy.
$495.00 at unknwn.com
Cole Haan GrandExpløre All-Terrain
Though available in several combinations, we like the way this pale stone hue complements the thick, bright white sole and the motorcycle tread outsole. Eyelets are eliminated for a more severe capture, sliced right through the leather. Metal grommets and thick, tubular laces system give a mountaineering feeling you’ll appreciate when climbing the steps to a buddy’s rooftop party.
$250.00 at ColeHaan.com
Reebok Run.R 96
Reebok’s Run.R 96 launch may just be the quintessential expression of the trend. It’s chunky. It’s clean and white. The sole looks like you could walk on the moon with it. Cord locks anchor the laces into place, keeping them out of harm —and dirt’s—way. The aerodynamic upper design, with mesh details and a lock-in place lacing system looks like it just stepped off of the Jupiter 2.
$260.00 at SSense.com
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