The joke I make around my flip-flops-with-jeans-wearing colleague is that I’m a father, not a dad. OK, it’s not much of a joke. I guess it’s more of a line in the sand. “Dad,” to me, implies a certain level of giving up, especially regarding clothing and especially, especially when it comes to sneakers. I have a 14-year-old son, but I’m not a dad.
I wouldn’t say I’m exactly stylish, at least from the ankles up. Earlier this year, I adopted a uniform, which only codified what I was basically already wearing every day anyway: a white or black t-shirt with black or gray jeans. But everything fits well. So while I generally look the same every day, I don’t look like I’m about to happily walk into a Home Depot.
My shoes are what I really care about. I try not to wear the same pair twice in a row, and I could probably go about two months without a repeat if I wanted to. I’ve set an alarm to wake up early to get limited release Air Jordans. I’ve stood in long lines. I have five sneaker-related apps on my phone. Not too long ago, while standing outside of a New Orleans casino at 3 am, I won an eBay auction for a coveted pair of Nike x Off-White Prestos. I wouldn’t be caught dead in dad shoes.
Which is why it is so upsetting to me that, over the past year or so, the hot trend in sneakers is clunky, ugly, heavy, Mark Cuban-for-Skechers-ass-looking shoes. Dad shoes. Some are as white as a group photo of White House interns and others are a garish riot of color, like a used kids menu at a Chili’s. But they all look like shoes for another pair of shoes. I wouldn’t even want to try them on, for fear that I might be magically enveloped by a billowing pair of khakis with, like, 15 pleats.
As with many recent sneaker trends, you could blame Kanye West for this. His Adidas line has transitioned from graceful, simple silhouettes to bad cocktail napkin doodles of spaceships as he has leaned more heavily into his dadhood. Style-wise, West is now in his “nice” pair of sweats phase.
But everyone does it. Nike gave its Air Monarch (the ultimate dad shoe) a fashion update and renamed it the M2K Tekno, which is so corny it’s almost art. Fila, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen, Steve Madden, Stella McCartney—they all have dad shoes. They are at Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom and Balenciaga at Highland Park Village.
The worst in my opinion are the Balenciaga Triple S, and not because they cost $895. If I had to pick one reason, it’s because they look like maybe five other better sneakers got stuck in the telepod from The Fly. And then they couldn’t even get the size right.
By the time I make my inevitable transition into dadhood, this trend will probably be over. Which means I’ll have my pick of discarded dad shoes on eBay.