For years, Dads have been known for their corny jokes and bootcut jeans. But some may see them as pioneers of fashion. As of recently, the trend of chunky, normcore Dad shoes has taken streetwear and high fashion by storm.
From as early as the 80’s, oversized athletic shoes were seen as a staple in every dad’s wardrobe. Brands like New Balance, Nike, Fila and Reebok have capitalized on the trend by continuously releasing their popular models as well as collaborating with other designers to revive certain silhouettes. The trend has even attracted the eyes of admirers such as Kanye West, who currently continues to create his own futuristic dad shoes with the Yeezy Brand.
The origin of the “dad shoe” trend became popular in the 80’s with athletic trainers, which were focused on comfort and stability. Companies like Nike, Reebok and New Balance catered these shoes to individuals who preferred functionality rather than aesthetic appeal. The Nike Tailwind, which was designed by Paul Brown in 1979, was the first sneaker to fully feature air cushioning. The creation of comfort shoes became competitive years later when New Balance released its revolutionary silhouette; the 990 in 1982. New Balance’s first iteration of the 990 was the first shoe to feature a motion control footbed as well as other cutting-edge technology. The sneaker was originally advertised as a running shoe, but it's poised look and comfort attracted a demographic primarily made of dads. In the 80’s, athleisure was in its prime. Athletic sneakers were being used for comfort and support rather than it’s purpose of high intensity training. The Reebok Club C, which was released in 1985, happened to fall to this trend as well. Again, under the direction of Paul Brown, but this time for Reebok, the Club C was crafted to fit a distinguished tennis club dress code. The popularity of this sneaker grew as many became fond of its comfort, yet composed leather look. Towards the end of the 1980s, the aesthetic of the dad shoe blossomed into a full-blown trend resulting in many brands creating new adaptations of a much chunkier silhouette.
In the 1990s, the reputation of the chunky and “ugly” dad shoe was set in place. Companies like Nike and Fila began to create oversized models like the Monarch, Spiridon and Disruptor. Designed by Jason Mayde, the Nike Air Monarch was crafted for those who seeked comfort within the workplace. The silhouette’s oversized Zoom cushioning has attracted individuals such as football coach; Pete Carroll to wear this model daily. Years later, Nike and Christian Tesser would rework the Monarch into a slimmer silhouette with the Zoom Spiridon. This model features Zoom caged cushioning and was designed with a sleek look to suit a runner’s aesthetic. The Spiridon’s popularity grew when it was seen being worn casually by MLB player, Manny Ramirez. The trend of casualizing athletic sneakers grew throughout the 90s as celebrities such as the cast of Friends and even rappers such as LL Cool J would be seen wearing them. Fila happened to capitalize off this transition to athleisure when famous rapper Tupac Shakur was seen wearing a pair on the back of his “All Eyez On Me” LP cover. The Disruptor, which was designed by Cyrus Davis, became popular within the music world as artists such as Schooly D and Steady B created tracks titled “My Filas” and “Do the Fila.” The trend of athleisure would grow strong within the 90s eventually leading to the normcore style we’ve seen throughout the 2000s.
The trend of normcore style was brought to light by the late Steve Jobs as he would be seen wearing the New Balance 992 model throughout his Apple Keynote events in the 2000s. Debuting in 2006, the Sam Pearce designed sneaker were constructed with premium materials but still featured the comfort of an athletic running shoe. The chunky soled model would soon be used to create the future 993 silhouettes. The New Balance 99X Series would become popularized in the later years of the 2010s as collaborators and designers such as Ronnie Fieg, JJJJound and Tetsu Nishiyama would create their own colorways of the already beloved silhouettes. As the styles of chunkier silhouettes became re-released, other brands began to create new models which were better suited to fit the crazed Dad shoe aesthetic.
In recent years, the resurgence of the Dad shoe has become highly popularized as new models have been created to suit the trend. Brands such as Yeezy and Balenciaga have brought the craze to even higher heights by releasing their own versions of the admired silhouettes. Kanye West’s fashion influence was again showcased with the Yeezy 700 Wave Runner, which is considered to be the sneaker which revived the Dad shoe trend. The success of the Yeezy 700 is all credited to the brand's lead designer, Steven Smith. Smith is considered a godfather within the sneaker world as he is responsible for the designs of New Balance, Nike and Reebok Classics. Since the Wave Runner’s release, the production of High Fashion dad shoes has been growing as Balenciaga continue to release multiple colorways of their coveted Triple S Sneaker. The domination of the Triple S Sneaker and Yeezy 700 recently sparked a fire within Nike, which resulted in the brand releasing a newer model, the P-6000. The P-6000 is Nike’s newest addition to the dad shoe family as it is an adaptation of the Pegasus 25, which originally released in 2006. Although Nike may be one of the originators of the dad shoe, in recent years we’ve seen many brands cycle in and out as the head of the table.
The presence of the dad shoe has been seen throughout multiple eras. At some point in time, a pair has graced the feet of almost every individual. With the trend still ongoing, we can expect many new models to be released, as well as some classics from brands such as Nike, Reebok and New Balance. With Yeezy and Balenciaga being the frontrunners for high fashion brands, we can only expect there to be a following soon to come from others as well.
Whether you’re a fan of the trend or not, the question on everyone’s mind is, “what’s next?”
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