For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a soft spot for shoes that most people would call “not beautiful.” In the sixth grade, I was the proud wearer of Buffalo platforms (the six-inch kind) and camouflage Dunlop sneakers; in high school I shuffled around in Adidas slides. When it comes to the visual assessment and aesthetic classification of my wardrobe, I almost have a meter-thick protective armor. My sharpest critic is myself, and it probably always will be.
But back to “ugly” sneakers. When I look at Balenciaga’s new Triple S’, I immediately think of the scene from Crazy, Stupid, Love where Ryan Gosling throws Steve Carell’s New Balance 407 over the railing at the mall. Still, I think they would look great with a cool pair of jeans and an oversized sweater. So why do so many people find “ugly” sneakers, well, ugly? Is it the color combinations? The thick, naked soles? The shoe laces or the many seams? I can only guess that it’s a healthy combination of all of the above. “Ugly” sneakers are unbalanced, like an oblique image in a perfectly stylized room. They interfere with the overall picture.
Man Repeller went as far as to assert in the analysis of ‘Dad Sneakers,’ as they are also called, help ground us in times of unrest — and that might just be the reason for their sudden rise. I, however, feel like we are surrounded by so much false perfection that it’s time to go back to the basics. I’m at a point now where I prefer something real to all of the selfies, avocados, and minimalist apartments on Instagram. And perhaps that’s why these shoes are so appealing.
The pieces from Acne Studios, Stella McCartney, and Balenciaga, among others, remind me of the avant-garde and interrogative movement of Cubism, or the designs of Deconstructivism. I find it exciting when you divide things into their individual parts and think about new forms. And while society may not accept them just yet, I have a feeling we’ll get there — eventually. But to help kick things off, here’s a few of — in my opinion — the most beautiful presumably “ugly” sneakers of the season — with love from me, to you.
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