Photos: Cringe in terror at the ugly, ugly sneakers that fashion is obsessed with

What are those?
What are those?
Image: Reuters/Alessandro Garofalo
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There are some trends that fizzle out as quickly as they bubble up. But fashion’s love for so-called “ugly sneakers” is proving more persistent.

The trend started slowly a couple of years ago, says Brian Trunzo, senior menswear editor at forecasting firm WGSN. He told Business of Fashion (paywall) last year that it seemed to reach an inflection point in January 2017, when Vetements released its ungainly $650 version of Reebok’s Instapump Fury.

Ugly, of course, is a relative term, and has always had its own appeal. Some of these sneakers may not be ugly to everyone. Either way, they offer a fresh, eye-catching change from the well-mannered minimalism that prevailed before. Fashion brands need to sell new stuff to keep sales up, after all. Sneakers also happen to be one of the key ways luxury labels are grabbing the attention and dollars of more young shoppers.

The look is still picking up momentum. On the runways earlier this year, a number of brands showed odd or unsightly sneakers that are now turning up on the streets or will soon be released. Sports brands such as Nike and Adidas are leaning into the trend as well with some of their new styles.

These shoes take different forms, but excess clunkiness is one common theme. Balenciaga’s oversized Triple S has been a hit for the brand and one of the popular luxury sneakers of the last year. Others, such as the Nike Monarch M2K Tekno by New York designer John Elliott, resemble the bland, bulky sneakers suburban dads stereotypically wear, or they might look like actual orthopedic shoes, as in Christopher Kane’s horrendous spring-loaded shoes, made in collaboration with Z-CoiL. Some make use of weird colors, shapes, and details to offer something totally unusual.

Here’s a look at some of the ugly sneakers fashion is churning out:


A model presents a creation from the Gucci Autumn/Winter 2018 women collection during Milan Fashion Week in Milan, Italy February 21, 2018. Picture taken February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo - RC1562C2D940
Gucci’s bejeweled, Sega-inspired sneaker.
Image: Reuters/Alessandro Garofalo




MILAN, ITALY - JANUARY 13: Guests wearing Balenciaga sneakers seen outside Dolce & Gabbana during Milan Men's Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2018/19 on January 13, 2018 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images)
At left, the Balenciaga Triple S, king of the ugly sneakers.
Image: Christian Vierig/Getty Images


Louis Vuitton

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 06: Lisa Hahnbueck wearing white fur jacket Dorothee Schumacher, blue dress Baum und Pferdgarten, leather pants Hironae Paris, Archlight Louis Vuitton sneakers, round Louis Vuitton bag is seen during Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2018/2019 on March 6, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images)
Louis Vuitton’s Archlight sneaker.
Image: Christian Vierig/Getty Images


A model presents a creation from the Prada Autumn/Winter 2018 women collection during Milan Fashion Week in Milan, Italy February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo - RC1749645910
Prada’s Cloudbust sneaker.
Image: Reuters/Alessandro Garofalo