Ugly sneakers are like pugs, it is widely accepted that they are ugly but everyone loves them. Similar to dad sneakers, the ugly sneaker trend just never dies. But one thing different about it is that new drops never cease to surprise us with bolder, uglier designs that sell out every single time.
The history of ugly sneakers finds its origins in putting functionality first since the 1990s followed by being part of high fashion and has recently trickled down to more mainstream popular culture. Something that is usually featured with ugly sneakers is chunky silhouettes because they are breaking away from the sleek and minimalist - we are going all out. For those who love fashion maximalism, this one is for you as Ox Street shares our top picks for ugly sneakers that have left a lasting impression on us…some of which, have actually evolved from ugly/dad shoe to ‘designer/hipster’ vibes over time such as the New Balance 992.
The sneaker that brought the contemporary audience back to the ugly sneaker trend would most likely be the Balenciaga Triple S. Designed by Demna Gvasalia as part of the Autumn 2017 collection, it is hard to not recognize and remember these chunky kicks from the Paris Fashion Week catwalk. The sold-out kicks were such a hit and remain widely coveted by fashion enthusiasts and sneakerheads alike till today.
The Balenciaga Triple S features an exaggerated sole made up of not one but three footbeds for that extra height and thick look. The sneakers were so popular that the brand has been adding newer colorways to the lineup regularly, and it has dominated the luxury sneaker market. With a retail price of $795 USD, some of the colorways especially retail exclusives have been resold for much more.
The first time a sports titan has collaborated with a designer in a high fashion meets street culture, we have the Raf Simons x adidas Ozweego back in 2013. The chunky bulbous sneakers were ahead of its time, as not many were into the ugly sneaker aesthetic back then. It has however redeemed itself as of late with many fans of both its older and newer releases.
The rework of the original 90’s silhouette has since shot it to fame, with a mixture of smooth leather and mesh that gives it that unique sporty yet designer look. These legendary kicks have definitely paved the way for the Balenciaga Triple S and hit chunky ugly sneakers to come. And there is just something about the translucent gel nodes on the quarters of the sneakers that makes it look so unique.
The Fila Disruptor was what introduced the mainstream audience to the ugly sneaker trend, with affordable prices from about $70 USD and above. Its design is kept relatively simple save for its thick EVA midsole and aggressive rubber tread for its iconic look.
The sneaker blends sporty with retro elements, which makes it easy to match with many outfits. The Fila Disruptor has been popular since its relaunch in 2017, especially in the Asian market like Korea and Japan, and has been the go-to choice for many when it comes to ugly sneakers.
The now-viral and infamous love child between a car tire and sneakers are the Balenciaga Defender Trainers. Balenciaga has never failed to deliver when it comes to shocking, avant-garde designs and this one is a real statement piece. Part of their Spring-Summer 2022 collection, these unisex trainers (that come in sizes ranging from 34 to a whopping 46) draw design elements from cult-favorite Triple S and Track, retaining that chunky silhouette but with a more rugged, adventurous look.
These elevated platform sneakers come with mesh and nylon uppers and of course the gigantic, oversized rubber soles with a tire-like texture on it. Balenciaga’s logos can be found on the tongue, and its signature numerical size is found at the edge of the toe as well as the back near the heel. The Defenders are available in full black or beige, with a retail price of $1,090 USD.
There you have it, a brief history of ugly sneakers up to the present. Fashion certainly does not equate to conventional aesthetic beauty, would you cop any of these ugly but hype sneakers? These ugly sneakers have shaped the market such that certain silhouettes like the Nike Air Huarache or chunky Air Max have become more popular as of late.