Remember the days as a youth, watching dad mow the lawn in khaki cargo shorts, white tube socks hiked up to his calves and a pair of grass-stained white and navy Nike Air Monarchs, and thinking, “I can’t wait to look just like him when I grow up”? Yeah, me neither.
Listen, if you’re both fashion-focused and a sneaker fan, you want your kicks to stand out. But shoes reminiscent of what your 50- or 60-year-old father laces up to strangulation-level tightness heading to Home Depot for caulk and duct tape isn’t the answer.
If you’re looking for sneakers that will turn heads, there’s plenty to choose from that don’t look like you have to knock a layer of dust off before lacing up.
The athletic brands dominating the market today have several innovative new styles that are absolute must-haves (i.e. Nike Epic Flyknit React). And if retro is your thing, those same labels have deep catalogues with sneakers that don’t look like they should come with an AARP card, regardless of when they debuted (i.e. Adidas Originals Stan Smith).
Typically, when I am anti-something, there’s some moral or ethical reasoning behind my stance. But with the dad shoe trend, there is no profound rationale. They’re just gross to me. There’s nothing aesthetically appealing about dad shoes, in my opinion (especially if you’re in your 20s or 30s and not actually a dad).
What’s also irritating about this trend is its ever-changing definition. Ask five people to define the dad shoe trend and you’re sure to get five different responses. (Nike’s Air Monarch is undoubtedly the pioneer, but one publication recently credited the start of the trend to Balenciaga, which only entered the conversation in 2017.) Mostly, it comes down to an ugly look with a chunky profile. Why this sounds appealing to anyone is something I will never understand.
And while athletic brand dad shoes are appalling, what’s even worse are the monstrosities delivered by fashion labels. For spring ’18, trend-right looks from high-end labels such as Vuitton and Balenciaga have become the new airport shoe for the fashion industry, replacing the Gucci Princetown fur loafer.
These fashion brands in the mix want people to wear horrid chunky sneakers, but they’re charging more than what it would cost for a round-trip flight from New York to California for a pair. (Looking at you, Balenciaga, and that putrid Triple S.)
But if you’re really interested in dad shoes, there are ways you can still look trend-right and save some cash. Just hit Costco. As you head to the register with your cart full of industrial-size packages of paper towels and ground beef, grab yourself some Kirkland Signature sneakers, which most people would mistake as Monarchs. (Does Kirkland Signature sound familiar? It should. It’s the company that also sells its own diapers, maple syrup and cat food.)
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