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Sneaker Series: The 'Ugly' Trainer Trend

Sneaker Series: The 'Ugly' Trainer Trend

Chunky trainers – a rebellion against sneaker austerity, a declaration of foot independence, a non-conformist’s sneaker dream and the antithesis of minimalism. Whilst it’s safe to say that these trainers are far from mainstream, the fashion community (and those in the know) have adopted the chunky/ugly/dad sneaker trend as their own. But why? Breaking free from the rigidity of luxury’s elegant, minimalist design codes, every man (and woman) who laces themselves into a pair of Gucci’s Rhyton Runners has enjoyed the freedom of releasing their feet from the confines of regular sized trainers.

Saint Laurent white High top trainer
Valentino athletic trainer against a tiled wall

The trend is getting bigger, in-line with the trainers themselves. By our estimations the current trajectory of the popularity-to-size ratio will mean that by 2020 the fashion-savvy citizens of the population will be wearing boats for shoes. We joke, but in all earnestness, this is a trend with legs (protruding from it). The largest – amongst them the Balenciaga Triple S and wunderkind Alessandro Michele’s elephantine take on the shoe – are still the reserve of those in the upmost echelons of fashion’s circles. Braved by editors and street style’s boldest stars. Not least because they’re so hard to get hold of, but also because they take more than a little panache to pull off. These are not trainers for the faint of heart, but for those who choose to eschew previously accepted notions of beauty and style in pursuit of something more, something bigger, preferably with an orthopaedic sole.

Gucci Rhyton Runner Trainer
Gucci Rhyton Runner Trainer

They are sneakers with a complete disregard for all that fashion has held sacred over the last decade or so. Since their inception, luxury sneakers have been slim of silhouette and elegant by design. The opposite of bulky, techy high-top basketball and skater shoes. Chunkiness was considered crude and low-brow, until the worlds of sportswear and high fashion collided, a phenomenon we’ve charted previously. To some they are shocking, but when you consider the recent obsession with nostalgic ‘90s style and ‘athleisure’, they are in fact just a natural progression from the sportswear revival and our re-discovered love of logo Tees.

Givenchy Logo red and black trainer
Red Saint Laurent High Top Trainer



Identifiable by a certain set of criteria (listed below), the so-called ‘ugly’ trainer closely resembles the pair hidden at the back of your wardrobe – a cruel sartorial reminder of Britpop’s heyday when cargo pants were in and Run-D.M.C were at number one in the charts. They’re also closely associated with awkward dads, worn more often than not with slacks (the horror) and a backpack. In case you hadn’t noticed (although it’s hard not to), ugly trainers have chunky uppers, soles that resemble those of a geriatric (looking trendy, Nan) and are oversized to cartoonish proportions.

Givenchy Logo Red and black runner trainer
Givenchy Logo Red and black runner trainer

And you must embrace it, as these very large trainers aren’t going away. They’re part of a wave of anti-fashion fashion that has been striking the industry for a few years, dissembling all that the style cognoscenti previously held dear. It’s sort of like a democratisation – whereby the un-coolest of dads and least-chic of geeks have become, unwittingly, cool. Embrace their swollen silhouettes and enjoy the sense of high-fashion haughtiness that understanding the irony of the ugly sneaker permits you. Titanic trainers are here to stay.