For late adopters and those not willing to shell out a chunk of a month’s salary for a hunk of a shoe deemed the height of fashion, but shall no longer be, there are alternatives
It’s been a year since we were acquainted with clunky, heavy, thick-soled shoes so monstrous they had to be associated with dad to be evocative. What should have been a dud has, instead, become sneaker culture’s unlikely hero and energiser. From then, there are dad shoes and more dad shoes, and some are seriously daddier—or uglier (in fashion speak, glorious!)—than others. One of them is not Adidas’s own Klump, the Yeezy 700. Despite their chunkiness and their so-uncool-they’re-cool oddball stance, these shoes are being released by brands like Buddhists freeing turtles into the sea (放生, fang sheng, or live release, for improving the devotees’ karma). Dad shoes, it seems, have quite a long life to come, now that even unlikely brands have come on board, from Aldo to Skecher, even Timberland!
It is, of course, a no-brainer to just go buy a pair of the slowly-fading Balenciaga Triple S or, if you’re the leader of the pack, the even flashier Track, but not many, although able, are willing to cough up close to S$2,000 for a pair of kicks. Rather than consider the likes of Gucci Flashtrek (or, gasp, the bejewelled version), auditioning real sneakers by sports brands could be a lot more fun and rewarding, not to mention easier on the wallet. Some fashion types think that fashion shoes should be purchased from a fashion brand and would, therefore, consider Zara or China’s not-too-shoddy Urban Revivo. But at a specialist sneaker retailer, you do get better value even if most of the desirable sneakers are above S$200, as well as the performance that come with the DNA of these shoes.
This could possibly be virgin territory for those used to the Stan Smith and co. While you are looking for a hunk, you do not wish for too much heft. And although the side of the shoe may be a pull, do not dismiss the top view: you do prefer architectural wonder than a slab of dough. Since these shoes are designed to look at least one-and-half times the length of your actual feet, be prepared for them to appear unusually large. Stick to your usual size and do not allow ill-informed sales staff to tell you that your feet are “too small”!
Nike M2K Tekno
This is a sneaker that Nike, for reasons unknown to us, isn’t offering in large numbers. In fact, they’re not easy to find. The women’s version (above) has recently appeared and, as usual for most trending shoes, is available in fetching colours, such as this sweetest of pinks (and the strongest of reds). Colours aside, what works in Nike’s favour, as handsome dad shoes go, is its form. From the top view, the M2K Tekno is wickedly well-shaped, with adequate spread and corridor on the sides to give these kicks the right balance all shoes with a hulky silhouette should have. In this case, the shapely upper is unsurprising as it sits atop the equally dad-like, beautifully grooved mid-sole of the Air Monarch, which is another shoe to consider if only because it is a lot cheaper.
Style strength ★★★★★ Chunk aspect ★★★★★ Comfort factor ★★★★★
Nike M2K Tekno, SGD 159, is available at AW Lab
Adidas Yung 96
It isn’t quite clear if the current craze for the Falcon (women’s only) is because girls think they are handsome dad shoes or because Kylie Jenner is the kick’s near-billionaire model. If you don’t care about celebrity endorsement, you may prefer a cousin, the Yung 96. This kick may not score as the daddiest of dad shoes out there (that honour goes to its sibling the Yung 1), but it sure looks like the geeky kicks its pitched to be. The Yung 96 has the prerequisite chunkiness, but it also sports the three stripes that looks decidedly a relic from the ’80s. Nothing, of course, wrong with that since most shoes today are built on the very old soles of yore. Still, Adidas, could have given it a fancier spin, especially the somewhat lame mid-sole.
Style strength ★★★☆☆ Chunk aspect ★★★★☆ Comfort factor ★★★★☆
Adidas Yung 96, SGD159, is available @ Foot Locker and JD Sports
Puma Thunder Spectra
When the Thunder Desert first appeared two months ago (now in peach or peppermint shades for women!), many people thought this is the shoe the Ye should have designed. When the second iteration Thunder Spectra (above) launched last week, many consider it a worthy competitor to the Triple S. This is arguably the most striking sneaker release of the season, one that can be traced to Puma’s collaboration with Alexander McQueen back in the ’90s. Its handsome profile and the layers of colours are exactly the reasons people post shoe photos on IG. When worn, the snug is a delight and the total mass an eye-opener. However, the top view of the Thunder Spectra has more in common with a baguette, not those you’d find at Delifrance, but the corpulent versions at neighbourhood bakers.
Style strength ★★★★☆ Chunk aspect ★★★★★ Comfort factor ★★★★★
Puma Thunder Spectra, SGD201, is available @ Puma stores, AW Lab, Foot Locker, JD Sports.
Of all the brands seen here, Reebok has the potential to release striking dad shoes based on some of their past styles. But they have not done so in a big way—pun firmly in step. Their most dad-looking is the Aztek, first released the ’90s, but it is an uncle of a shoe if compared to the Adidas Yung 96. Still, the Aztek, cut higher at the ankles than others, is appealing because it is the most retro of the selection here. Serious-looking, even! With the Vetements collaboration on the brand’s revolutionary Instapump Fury still fresh in mind, many are turning to Reebok for kicks with street cred that do not—normally—shout out loud.
Style strength ★★☆☆☆ Chunk aspect ★★☆☆☆ Comfort factor ★★☆☆☆
Reebok Aztrek, SGD139, is available @ Reebok stores and Foot Locker
Fila Disruptor II Premium
The comeback sports brand of the year (thanks to Gosha Rubchinskiy?) wasted no time in releasing flagship styles that are consistent with the craze for the thicker and the taller. The Disruptor II does not only has the bulk, it has the height to go with the girth, which is why, we were told, it is especially popular among women. This is the clunkiest sneaker seen in the stores, and, in large sizes, do take up space in the MRT train. And, offers less than ideal flexibility to sprint for the bus. While it may be mistaken for a Skecher, the Disruptor II, even in white, is the exaggerated kick that defines fashionable footwear now.
Style strength ★★★☆☆ Chunk aspect ★★★★★ Comfort aspect ★★★☆☆
Fila Disruptor II Premium, SGD269, is available @ Fila stores and Foot Locker
New Balance 99H
The New Balance silhouettes for its shoes have been rather consistent through the years: neither too narrow nor too broad—chunky not being the UPI of their past, which means they are not the first brand you’d go to for styles that are tagged ‘dad’. In spirit, however, there’s something quite papa’s shoe about the 99H. Sure, the mid-sole isn’t thick or complicated-looking enough (compared to the 990 that sneakerheads prefer or the 608 that girls are now gravitating to), but this is an elegant reflection of what’s trending, and possibly a shoe you’d still want to wear after the current craze is not even a vestige of our collective memory.
Style strength ★★★☆☆ Chunk aspect ★☆☆☆☆ Comfort aspect ★★★★★
New Balance 99H, SGD199, is available at New Balance stores and Robinsons at The Heeren
Under Amour Forge 96
Under Armour, while a brand now frequently seen among gym goers, isn’t exactly known for their forward or trend-leaning ‘lifestyle’ sneakers that you might wear to Manhattan (the bar!). The appearance of the Forge 96 this month may change all that as it is the first pair (in different trendy colours, it should be said) that launched UA’s Sportstyle category. The Forge 96 is less retro than retro-futuristic and is, despite its appreciable hunk, rather minimalist, if placed next to the more expressive Puma Thunder Spectra. Strictly for (fashion-considering) fans.
Style strength ★★☆☆☆ Chunk aspect ★★★★☆ Comfort factor ★★★★☆
Under Amour Forge 96, SGD 159, is available at JD Sport
Calvin Klein Jeans Leather Chunky Trainers
We’re hesitant to include this in our line-up, but since it’s sold in a sneaker store, we thought, why not. Calvin Klein Jeans, even in its re-branded form, is late in the dad shoe showdown, but, as it’s always said, better late then never. Their version, simply called Leather Chunky Trainers, are rather attractive even if they look a tad too close to those by Balenciaga. The mixed upper of mesh and suede (and those eyelet stays!) gives them a rather high-end, fashion-y vibe. And the colour combo of the above is what non-white sneaker fans would want to cop.
Style strength ★★★☆☆ Chunk aspect ★★★★★ Comfort factor ★★★★☆
Calvin Klein Jeans Leather Chunky Trainers, SGD260, is available @ AW Lab
Shoes are mostly available in men’s and women’s sizes unless indicated. Photos: Zhao Xiangji