The Rad Of Dad Shoes

They are way cooler if your father won’t cop them


At this very juncture of sneaker cool, it’s not the technology that counts, not the thickness of mid-soles that matters, not the outrageousness of the design of the upper that entices. These days, the overall package has to have an unsightliness that is so anti-fashion that it is fashion and a vibe that is so off-beat that it can be traced to paternal tastelessness. Father may not be cool enough, but you, standing on what is supposed to be his domain but unclaimed, is the height of high style.

Are we finally free of Stan Smith’s over-long grip?!

In the sneaker-sphere of fashionista-as-geek, “dad trainers” share the same aesthetic motivation as orthopedic sandals, such as slides: designers tap into the vapid and the downright banal to yield something odd, slightly incomprehensible so that some styles can go beyond the ken of the average consumer. Father of today’s dad trainers is irrefutably Demna Gvasalia. He is the major proponent of dubious-taste-as-ultimate-taste and last year, through his designs for Balenciaga has introduced the Triple S sneaker, the patriarch of shoes bearing dad’s lack of taste.

The thing about dads is that they like coming together. Their sneakers too. Following Balenciaga’s pursuit of papa gauche, Louis Vuitton’s Nicolas Ghesquiere launched the Archlight, an exaggerated take on the sneakers your father no longer would touch. And then before you can say lao ba, every brand wants their own clunky, ungainly version. So prevalent they are now that even Dazed has this year’s models “ranked”!

But not everyone is willing to pay the astronomical prices that come tagged to the likes of the Triple S—over S$1,000. So sports brands play their willing part. One of them introducing the dad trainer that isn’t a collab is Puma. Taking a break from their hip-hop outing, Rihanna’s Fenty enabler discreetly launched the RS-O ‘Play’, a chunk of a shoe that would not be out-hunked by its earlier-to-market competitors.

To augment its dad standing, the RS-0 series is inspired by retro gaming and the leather-and-mesh ‘Play’ has coloured inserts in the mid-sole that purport to mimic old-fashioned buttons on hand-held device controls. Sonic the Hedgehog (a collab is reportedly in the works) fans would appreciate the geeky reference.

The trainer looks comfortable and it is. It would not deter dad from wearing it with black socks, but you know better. It has a surprisingly prominent tongue and while it does not stick out like the Archlight, you can live with it. What’s particularly appealing, perhaps, is that the RS-O appears to prefer no gender. Don’t fathers like it better when their girl appreciates dad’s taste, however questionable?

Puma RS-0 ‘Play’ sneakers, SGD199, are available at Puma Select, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. Photo: Zhao Xiangji