Whilst it may not have been everyone’s favourite sneaker trend, there is no denying the impact that dad sneakers have had. Made widely popular in 2017 by the likes of Balenciaga and Yeezy, chunky dad shoes have certainly made an impact on the sneaker world. Now halfway through the start of the new decade, it doesn’t look as though the trend is going anywhere anytime soon. With Father’s Day on the horizon, we thought we’d round up some of the best dad sneakers out there.
Now, even we have to admit that there are some ugly sneakers out there. Although there were a few clear winners out there, we must admit that there really are some ugly shoes in the world right now. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we didn’t curate an excellent list of the best dad shoes. Below we’ll be showcasing some of the best chunky sneakers out there. Without further delay, let’s take a look at the top 10 dad sneakers.
Disclaimer: this list is in no particular order!
Nike Air Monarch IV
Quite simply put this is one of the greatest dad sneakers of all time. Originally released in the 90s, the Nike Air Monarch was a pivotal moment for the brand. After the turf training surge began to slow down, Nike realised that it needed to grip the older male consumer. Recruiting some of its best designers, the Swoosh took inspiration from fast food of all places. Dave Schechter, VP of Nike Air Max footwear and a former member of the Monarch merchandising team explained that:
“We talked at length about how everyone buys fries and fountain drinks at fast food restaurants, because those items are seen as essential parts of the meal. We realised we needed our version of a fries-and-soda type of shoe to act as that all-day, everyday shoe in our line”
Now, over 30 years later, the Nike Air Monarch has remained a staple for older male consumers. In fact, it is arguably the definition of what dad sneakers are. The focus of comfortability as well as being easy to wear helped make the Air Monarch what it is today. Having become a part of the fashion industry as early as 2013, the Air Monarch IV went on to have a big impact in 2017/2018. In fact, British designer Martine Rose even put her spin on the sneaker, bringing the fashion moment full circle.
adidas Yeezy Boost 700 “Wave Runner”
Kanye’s first foray into the world of dad sneakers was probably one of the most hyped. In early 2017, a mysterious chunky sneaker appeared on the feet of Yeezus. It sent the sneaker world into meltdown, to say the least. Although it would take almost the entire year to release, it was worth the wait. Moving away from the traditional minimalist adidas Yeezys of old, the adidas Yeezy Boost 700 was nothing like Kanye had put out before.
First of all, it was much chunkier and brighter than its Yeezy predecessors. A combination of grey mesh, suede and leather at the core made way for navy, lime and orange accents to work against. The large and somewhat wide midsole was also an instant hit, combining the familiar adidas Boost technology with a brand new design. This sneaker single-handedly brought adidas into the chunky sneaker market. Now, with three versions and multiple colourways, this is an ideal dad sneaker for any collector.
Acne Studios Rockaway
High fashion has always taken inspiration from streetwear and Acne Studios shows this with its Rockaway sneaker. The Stockholm-based brand, founded in 1996, took inspiration from “’90s American urban sportswear.” The result is a sneaker that wouldn’t look out of place on a runway or walking down the street. Of course, when you get into the design, you can really see just the angle that Acne Studios was coming from.
The subtle combination of premium leather overlays and a mesh ankle give this sneaker an edge. It’s the bold midsole, complete with an unusual bobble design, that gives this dad sneaker and added depth. Since its first release in 2016, the Acne Studios Rockaway has been spotted on almost every major person in fashion and it should come as no surprise. It’s comfortable, durable and, most important of all, a perfect example of dad sneaker style.
New Balance 990
When it comes to dad sneakers, few brands do it better than New Balance. Arguably the most iconic dad sneaker label on the planet, New Balance has been cooking up comfortable kicks for almost 40 years. The one shoe that started it all off, however, was the 990. Originally released in 1982, the New Balance 990 quickly became one of the brand’s top products, and for very good reason.
For one, it was the most comfortable sneaker on the market at the time. That was thanks to the ENCAP midsole, a technological advancement that has remained in New Balance’s lineup since it started. Also, it was a much more stripped back approach than other sneakers in the 1980s. Instead of the bold and sometimes garish colours used by competitors, New Balance used an all-grey upper making it much more wearable.
Join all of those factors and you can fully see why the New Balance 990 has remained a constant in the world of dad sneakers.
PUMA isn’t exempt from making some pretty classic dad shoes. Created in 1993, the PUMA Prevail was not as well-received that it should have been. Taking cues from the bold colours and patterns of the aforementioned epoch, the PUMA Prevail was a divisive sneaker. Though it may never have lived up to expectation at the time, that didn’t stop PUMA from bringing the sneaker back in 2016 a hitting a home run.
A simple combination of mesh and leather throughout laid the foundations for this Prevail. Jagged edges across the midsection gave the shoe a bit of personality, working with the colour pops to make what should have been an instant hit in the 90s. It was even packed with PUMA’s Trinomic technology making it one of the most comfortable sneakers in the market. If you’re looking for a shoe that ticks all the boxes of the dad sneakers trend, look no further.
Raf Simons x adidas Ozweego
When Raf Simons unveiled his rather chunky looking sneaker to the world in 2013, it was hit with mixed reviews. Whilst some in the industry loved it, others were not so keen. Released 15 years after the Ozweego, Raf Simons interpretation was certainly a statement sneaker. Over the years, the design grew on many, resulting in a string of highly desirable and limited releases. At the time, however, the sneaker was in its own design field.
As you would expect from a man of Raf Simon’s stature, his version of the Ozweego was futuristic. For one, it was much chunkier than its muse. The large midsole section, complete with what looked like teeth, gave the sneaker a utilitarian aesthetic. Plastic elements also adorned the side, complete with a holographic-like look. Finally, there was next to no branding on the sneaker, meaning you had to be in the know to recognise the design.
Raf Simons adidas Ozweego arguably paved the way for high fashion dad sneakers. Without this silhouette, who knows if the trend would have even happened.
Nike MK2 Tekno
After realising that it needed to get on board with a new dad sneaker, Nike set about in creating the MK2 Tekno. Though the Monarch was doing extremely well throughout 2017/2018, Nike knew that it had to bring something new to the table. With Yeezy, New Balance and Balenciaga all staking their claim, Nike had to get creative. Inspired by the original Monarch, designer Jin Hong came up with a silhouette that was a perfect homage to the chunky dad shoe. According to Hong:
“The goal in designing the M2K Techno was to maintain the Monarch’s authentically bold stance while creating fresh features, thus revising what the Monarch could be for 2018.”
Debuting at the John Elliot New York runway show, the Nike MK2 Tekno quickly became a talking point. Its chunky aesthetic made sure that it was easy to spot. The careful combination of leather, as well as the expansive midsole section, made the MK2 Tekno an instant classic and perfectly on trend. Though the model may have since faded away, it’s importance in the dad sneaker trend is certainly undeniable.
Balenciaga Triple S
Name a more iconic high fashion dad sneaker. We’ll wait. With Demna Gvasalia taking over the helm from Alexander Wang in 2015, Balenciaga was about to experience its renaissance. Gvasalia, who had already made a name for himself at Maison Martin Margiela, Louis Vuitton and his own label Vetements, was about to help create a fashion moment. However, it was his close friend David Tourniaire-Beauciel who would change sneaker history.
Tourniaire-Beauciel constructed the Balenciaga Triple S, arguably the ugliest sneaker to make its way on this list. The unlikely success came from the fact that the shoe looked like nothing else. Its triple sole construction, contrasting colours and outright chunkiness meant that it quickly rose to fame when it released in 2017. Since then, Balenciaga has ensured that the Triple S remains at the forefront of the dad sneaker trend.
Stripped back versions, as well as unique colourways, have kept fashion fans wanting more of the Triple S silhouette. Thankfully, it doesn’t look as though it’s going anywhere for the foreseeable future. In fact, the Triple S helped make Balenciaga one of the hottest brands in the world for the past three years running.
Probably one of the most iconic Reebok sneakers of all time is the Aztrek. Originally released in 1993, the silhouette defined just what ’90s sneakers were all about. It was bold, it was comfy and, most importantly of all, it was colourful. For the most part, the Reebok Aztrek has remained one pair that sneakerheads wished they could have copped at the time. That, in part, is all down to the forward-thinking design by Christian Tresser.
Before he joined Nike, Tresser was working with the good folks over at Reebok. Utilising the brands Hezalite cushioning, the Aztrek quickly went on to challenge the Nike Air Max as one of the most comfortable sneakers. It’s the use of a shock absorption technology throughout the sole that meant that runners could run faster and longer without feeling the effects. Couple that with slick colourways and eye-catching details and you’ve got yourself a great dad shoe.
When Reebok reissued the sneaker 25 years later in 2018, an entirely new generation of footwear fans came to love the silhouette.
New Balance 992
Continuing on from the widely popular 990 and 991, the New Balance 992 became an instant hit when it dropped in 2006. Having been largely championed by the late great Steve Jobs of Apple, the New Balance 992 came to define exactly what dad sneakers were. Of course, a man of Jobs’ brilliance and importance in the technology world was undeniable, but as an unsung hero in the sneaker community? It seemed odd.
That didn’t seem to matter to New Balance now. Ensuring that the 99X line was a success, the brand made subtle updates to the 991 that would eventually turn into the 992. For starters, the use of an ABZORD cushioning system meant that it was actually more important than its predecessors. Another thing that gave the 992 mass appeal was the fact that it came in multiple widths, making it one of the most accessible sneakers on the market. Couple that with the fact that it was completely grey, featured suede and mesh and was also worn by Steve Jobs, well, you’ve got yourself a winner.
That concludes our list of the top 10 dad sneakers of all time! We hope that you enjoyed this list and would that you’ve got a few pairs of these in your closet. As always, if you’re looking to cop some dad sneakers, then head to the KLEKT store. We’ve got everything from Yeezys to New Balance and Nike to PUMA. Go check it out, now!