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How The Dad Sneaker Became Fashion’s Favourite Accessory

by: Rosie Dalton | 2 years ago | Features

Image: Emili Sindlev and Jeanette Madsen wearing Dad sneakers on the streets of Paris Fashion Week. Image source

My Dad probably wouldn’t call himself a fashion-forward kind of guy, but I have recently come to realise that our style shares more in common than you might expect. For a start, my Dad is all about the classics – a black pair of Wayfarers, or RM Williams boots that he has owned for more than ten years. And he knows what he likes – black T-shirts and dark denim in winter; black T-shirts and white shorts in summer. I, too, have developed a uniform of classics over the years. But the most recent style proclivity I seem to share with my father (and many others, for that matter) is the Dad sneaker.

I am not alone in this sartorial leaning either – indeed the Dad sneaker has quickly become fashion’s favourite accessory. For the autumn-winter 2018 season, for example, the basic comfort and sturdiness of these sandshoes appeared on the runways everywhere from Burberry and Balenciaga, to Calvin Klein and Céline. You know the ones – they are more practical than they are aesthetically pleasing and, of late, designers seem to be toeing this line with serious intent.

At Balenciaga the very chunkiness of the Dad sneakers and the ugly colour combinations employed seem to make a deliberate statement in practical chic. Which harks back to the Normcore movement and also whispers of the more recent trend for Gorpcore dressing. Whichever way you look at it, practicality has become one of the most important currencies in contemporary fashion. And Dad sneakers have got practicality in spades.

Less simple than the minimalistic Normcore styles inspired by Jerry Seinfeld, a true Dad sneaker is ugly yet comfortable; a bit bulky but highly supportive. They often incorporate a confusing colour combo too, or at least some point of contrast – because this is not about being chic people, it’s about protecting your feet. The irony, of course, is that this latest chapter in the ugly shoe trend has now become somehow chic. And I, too, have become a sucker for them.

Because, above all, the Dad sneaker is about comfort. It’s about leading a busy lifestyle, which sometimes means you have to run (not walk) around town in a hurry. It’s about not having the energy for blisters anymore. And it’s about feeling so fed up with the breakneck pace of fast fashion that you kind of don’t care about everything looking so perfect in the wardrobe department.

While we are on that topic, there is also something inherently inclusive about the Dad sneaker. This is the footwear trend that proves fashion needn’t be overly pretty in order to have a place. And so the fashion industry seems to have embraced the trend with open arms. And I have to say that I am wholeheartedly with them.

Thinking about my Dad’s actual sneakers – the slightly smelly, worn-down pair that he has owned for years – I realise they’re not so dissimilar to the kinds of styles now being featured in Louis Vuitton campaigns, or on the feet of models in and around fashion week. Nor are they so dissimilar to the pair of Vejas I have been wearing with my jeans of late. If I were to have this conversation with Dad, I doubt he would appreciate the artistic irony at play here. But I’m sure he would be just a little proud of the fact that – as with the Wayfarers and the well-made boots – sometimes Dads really do know best.


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