What Will Come After “Ugly Sneakers”?

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What Will Come After “Ugly Sneakers”?

Words by Mr Ashley Clarke

21 August 2018

MR PORTER’s predictions for the next trend in trainers .

Sneakers are no longer just sneakers. They are concepts, cultural harbingers and talking points. They are, depending on whom you ask, something a teenager would give both feet to own (what do you mean, wear them? These are strictly display items only), or abominations of footwear whose designers should be executed for crimes against fashion. As you have probably noticed by now, this is the age of the ugly sneaker, which means conversations around them are rife. Balenciaga’s Triple S and the Raf Simons + Adidas Ozweego have set a new bar for what coveted footwear looks like, and trainers in 2018 are marked by chunky rubber soles, hiking shoelaces and an ability to divide opinion like hot takes on Twitter. But after we’ve gone down the ugly route, what comes next? The future is here, and the ugly sneaker tree has branched out. See below for our predictions of what will be the next big thing.

The scuba sock

Sock sneakers have been a thing for about as long as ugly sneakers, but any conversation they might have sparked has always been dominated by outrage around the latter. Plus, so many brands are doing them now – and doing them well – that we think it’s high time they got some credit. Prada, Balenciaga and Maison Margiela are leading the charge with this, and have created shoes made out of neoprene or rubber that are more than a little reminiscent of water shoes, hence the scuba sock. We’re not sure what, if any, socks to wear them with yet, but that’s all part of the fun.

The Rambler

Sneakers have also hiked their way onto more solid ground, and a trend for trail-inspired footwear has emerged. They may look like the kind of thing you’d find on the shoe racks of mohair-cardigan-wearing ramblers in the Pennines, but hiking-style, moss-coloured kicks also happen to be one of the biggest trends in footwear at the moment. Prime examples include these smooth-soled iterations from Our Legacy, made from anthracite suede (what else?), and the trail shoes made from water-repellent nylon by Italian shoemaker ROA. Both have chunky, comfortable Vibram soles for superior traction and support. You may have assumed the ugly sneakers backlash would result in a return to Common Projects-esque minimalism, but fashion revels in shock and surprise. Hey, what’s cooler than being uncool?

The Hybrid

Take ugly sneakers, futuristic sock sneakers, sensible sneakers, throw in a dose of wanton gallimaufry and boom – the hybrid. They’re hard to miss, sure, but at least they aren’t doing things by halves. Patterned laces weave through a mashup of rubber, mesh, suede and leather, but there’s cogitation behind this perceived madness. Valentino’s sneakers pay tribute to the handiwork of cultures from around the world, and Moncler’s vibrant grey and blue pair have been crafted for comfort and longevity. The method behind the madness of this trend could be indecision on the part of designers, or an effort to take the best bits of sneaker trends past and put them together to make something new. Perhaps the ultimate sneakers were the ones we made along the way.

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