Every so often, I’ll put on an item of clothing and get the sneaking suspicion that a Gen Z TikToker has made a video about how this very item is the height of millennial-mum-dag. ‘Cheugy’ you might say.
Most recently I had this feeling when lacing up my “distressed” (because I wear them so much) white Reeboks. If you were part of the masses of people who jumped on board the “distressed” (because they come that way) Golden Goose trend, you may relate to this feeling. If your Vejas belong to the neutral colourway camp, then you absolutely know what I’m talking about.
But if skinny jeans and side parts have taught us anything, it’s that things change. And the more stylish women we know have long ago stepped out of the white-sneaker trend into something a lot less demure: loud, pretty ugly trainers that give the impression you’re off to conquer a small mountain.
if skinny jeans and side parts have taught us anything, it’s that things change
Indeed, some do have hiking shoe details, like solid rubber soles, high vamps and wiry elastic laces. Others give off more of an orthopaedic vibe with oversized bases and blinding colour palettes. What unites them all is the way they refuse to be subtle or ignored. I’ve never liked the term jolie laide, but it seems rather fitting here.
“We’ve had the ugly sandal, and now we have the ugly sneaker,” says stylist Lucy Wood, who selected the 12 sneakers below. As well as an active element, she says ugly trainers “are functional enough to use for sport but have an ironic fashion take where they’re so ugly, they’re good”.
If you’re wondering how we got here, ‘gorpcore’ is your answer. The fashion aesthetic, championed by the likes of Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber, is a chic and high-end take on a traditionally practical and outdoorsy look. Think luxury meets functionality.
And if you’re wondering how you might wear your new ugly trainers, Wood suggests that as much as you could pair them with activewear, “the cool way to wear them is with an unexpected look like a slip skirt and jumper”.