The primacy of Comfort sneakers

24 November 2022

The well-made sneakers with neutral colors are a great success, and have made some big brands popular again. As  Jacob Gallagher explained in the Wall Street Journal, people have always sought convenience, but the pandemic has accentuated this aspect. "When you don't have a busy schedule, rely more on the shoes you use to run errands than on uncomfortable but shiny moccasins." [La moda delle “scarpe da papà” ancora non passa – Il Post]



Last August, the Japanese sports brand Asics put on sale a new model of the GEL-Kayano 14 sneakers. Looking at it you would say that it is nothing special, it has neutral colors and solid shapes that certain shoes have to go running. In reality they were a limited edition produced in collaboration with the Canadian design brand JJJJound: within a few minutes the models available on the Asics website sold out, and now they are only found on other specialized retailers, at more than double the original price (which was 180 dollars, about 175 euros).

These GEL-Kayano 14 are a perfect example of the fact that the so-called dad shoes, or "daddy" shoes, still arouse the interest and appreciation of those who follow fashion, leading the main brands to always produce new models or reinterpret existing ones. It is not a new fact in itself: among insiders the trend of so-called chunky sneakers has been observed for years, that is "robust", "stocky". Initially it seemed it could be temporary, but even now it resists, in particular in the specific "daddy" variant, that is, with a thick sole and a neutral appearance, with colors tending to white or gray. In other words, they are the shoes that a sixty-year-old uncle could wear when he has to take a long walk or simply to be comfortable.

The dad shoes, in short, have a much less flashy appearance than the Balenciaga Triple S, a model that still belongs  to the chunky family  and that is considered one of the most influential of recent years, so much so that Balenciaga continues to make new versions. But the same happens for dad shoes, which according to some commentators would even have changed the fate of brands like New Balance and Asics itself, giving them new vitality and affirming them more among people passionate about sneakers.

The version in collaboration with JJJJound is not the only "daddy" shoe revisited or limited edition. Just to give another example, New Balance in 2021 produced a new version of the 2002R, perhaps one of the most emblematic models of dad shoes of  the renewed interest of these years, with suede finishes and built to look shredded. The model was called "Protection Pack" and a further version was made in  July of this year, which in addition to having these particular lines also has a color that makes them look already worn, with grayish stripes on a white background.

Moreover, the 2002R have a particular history, they were released in the United States in 2010, when the Balenciaga Triple S did not yet exist and the aesthetic canons were very different. They were supposed to replace the 2001, sold for decades at an affordable price, about 100 dollars. The 2002, however, had a certain refinement in the materials and in the construction technique of the sole, so the recommended price at their release was 250 dollars, definitely too much: after a few years they were withdrawn from the market, at least until the fashion of daddy shoes appeared, almost ten years after their first release. In 2019 New Balance then tried to withdraw from the archive some old models that seemed to be coming back into fashion, taking advantage of the trend: it first made a new version  of the old 860 v2 and  then also of the 2002, adding an erre at the end and selling them for $ 130.

The success of dad shoes can be explained in many ways. First of all, in the last two decades the aesthetic canons have been somewhat remixed by the success of the "ugly-chic" style, inaugurated by  a famous Prada show that in 1996 questioned the traditional aesthetic made of a female fashion always sexy, elegant and graceful. After that moment, the aesthetics of ugliness was much explored and changed certain parameters and certain perceptions in fashion (without ugly-chic, probably, the Birkenstocks would not have had the success they have today).

A second reason lies in the fact that dad shoes, generally, almost always have a vaguely eighties-nineties look, and everything related to those decades often comes back into fashion, in alternate phases. Many successful sneaker models, not only those "daddy", came out in those years and today they have changed little or nothing. Finally, another reason could have to do with the coronavirus pandemic, which in certain contexts has greatly relaxed our dressing habits, contributing for example to the success of footwear such as Crocs.

As  Jacob Gallagher explained in the Wall Street Journal, people have always sought convenience, but the pandemic has accentuated this aspect. "When you don't have a busy schedule, rely more on the shoes you use to run errands than on uncomfortable but shiny moccasins," Gallagher wrote, adding two other elements: the first is the fact that dad shoes, with their neutral appearance, are seen by younger generations as an unconventional choice.  atypical, and therefore desirable. The second element is the condition of the sneakers market, now saturated and inflated. Every week new models come out, with new colors, and according to Gallagher this overload may have influenced the choices of people who consume sneakers, making them return to more "trivial" models.


Paese: Italy| United States of America
Sneakers| calzature| comfort

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