Not my type: Unpacking the ‘ugly trainer’ revolution

Daisy Scott /
Oct 5, 2017 / Style

It all started with Gosha Rubchinskiy.

It was the comeback of a street-style taken from the streets of St. Petersburg and Moscow. Tracksuits, buzzcuts, puffer jackets and the athleisure aesthetic rocked up at the fashion gatherings and promptly took over – but they weren’t alone. With the streetwear, we have also seen the beginning of something huge, something that doesn’t look like going away: I am, of course, referring to what we shall be calling the ‘ugly trainer’ trend. Classically ugly trainers. You know them: New Balance, Nike Air Monarchs, Reeboks – they’ve made a comeback in a big way. But how? Imagine being back in secondary school, and wearing a pair of Reeboks. I can. It would have caused mass hysteria – and not in a positive way. So why do they work now?

The demise of the classic trainer began in 2015, with the addition of the original Yeezy 350 Boosts’ by Kanye West x Adidas. Then, came the popularity of the Nike Air Max 97 and 95.  Similarly, New Balance became a brand that wasn’t just for the runner anymore – they were now a fashion statement. The worst of them all, however, came right at the end: the Balenciaga Tiple S trainer.

Trainers are popular because they are for everyone. They are unisex and they can be dressed up or down, depending on where you’re off and what you’re wearing with them. They are a variable piece that will be worn to the death and look better for it. ‘Shabby Fashion’, as it has been aptly named, is the idea of making something luxurious wearable for every situation. For instance, look online and you’ll see the fashion world teaming their everyday trainers with expensive haute couture dresses. “You can’t buy the dress, but, you can buy the shoes.”

Scandinavian fashion has had an obvious influence of the trainer trend. Classically teaming an ugly shoe with a couture dress to make sure that they can relate to their audience, toning the luxurious aspect down for the many that are reading or watching. Recently, we saw GANNI, the darling of the Scandinavian fashion industry, team up with British Brand Shrimps to make a luxury trainer –  the Fergus trainer – which takes away from the outfit and has a statement that’s completely its own. Ultimately though, as trainers, they’re ugly.

But the uglies don’t come cheap. Raf Simons’ Adidas Ozweego sneakers set you back £285 – and Balenciaga quadruple soled Triple S trainers cost £595. However, you can buy a similar version of the Balenciaga Triple S trainer from Zara with a more bearable price tag, £25.99. Of course, the high-end fashion industry does not want to miss out on a sell-out trend. Chanel, the typically classically chic brand created an abundance of trainers, reminiscing their FW18 catwalk show inspired by outer space adventure. With the average price tag of the Chanel trainer reaching £700, the luxury industry is taking on the trend. Everyone is on it.

And who is actually wearing these trainers? Everyone. Absolutely everyone. No matter whether you are famous, an influencer or part of the general public you will see these ugly trainers. They are on the feet of everyone. From the Kardashians’ to that boy in your lecture. I don’t know how, and I don’t know why – but I do know one thing: they’re hideous, and I have to get myself a pair.

Words by Daisy Scott

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