FASHION | UGLY TRAINERS

“Miss, I forgot my trainers.” We all cried. Every week. Until…

Well, until the teachers caught on and we were swiftly pointed in the direction of the sweaty, old shoes that made up the lost property pile. The bulky, unwanted, UNCOOL shoes that hadn’t in fact been lost but strategically disowned by teenagers mortified by their parents’ idea of suitable gym footwear.

Fast forward to 2018 and we’re willing to join lengthy (and rapidly growing) waiting lists and fork out hundreds of pounds to get our hands on the same trainers. This time calling it fashion.

These appropriately named “ugly trainers” are still making the rounds with at least one season under their belt and given their meteoric rise, constant controversy and ability to sell out in under an hour, I suspect they’ve got several more seasons in them. And yet, I’m still not entirely sold.

Dissect the street style shots and you’re met with supermodels off-duty and of course, the coolest of the cool kids roaming the streets of London and New York. While I can appreciate that the best fashion trends are usually the most divisive and that all trends are subjective, just how ‘user friendly’ is this trend? How does it translate for day to day wear and why on earth has something so conventionally hideous caught and held on to our attention?

Figuring out why the shoes are ugly certainly isn’t the challenge here. The colour combinations explain the “dad trainers” reference and bulbous soles and oversized tongues scream invasive.

 Acne Studios Manhattan leather, suede and mesh sneakers - £360

Acne Studios Manhattan leather, suede and mesh sneakers - £360

 Balenciaga TRIPLE S TRAINERS - £595

Balenciaga TRIPLE S TRAINERS - £595

 NIKE Air Max 95 leather sneakers - £150

NIKE Air Max 95 leather sneakers - £150

 NIKE AIR MAX 97 TRAINERS - £140 

NIKE AIR MAX 97 TRAINERS - £140 

 Prada Cloud Burst

Prada Cloud Burst

 STELLA MCCARTNEY ECLYPSE RAINBOW SNEAKERS £450

STELLA MCCARTNEY ECLYPSE RAINBOW SNEAKERS £450

 Stella McCartney Eclypse Trainer £450

Stella McCartney Eclypse Trainer £450

 ZARA MULTICOLOURED SNEAKERS £49.99

ZARA MULTICOLOURED SNEAKERS £49.99

 ZARA SNEAKERS £39.99

ZARA SNEAKERS £39.99

However, something about these ugly trainers draws you in, an undeniable air of intrigue surrounds the trend. When you take a closer look and appreciate the fact that Louis Vuitton’s, Nicholas Ghesqière spent 4 years designing Archlight (a top contender for leader of the ugly trainer pack) and acknowledge the statistics from Stylebop that reveal Balenciaga’s Triple S as the fastest selling item of 2017, a statistic echoed among those at Matchesfashion.com where the Triple S sellout was closely followed by Stella McCartney’s Eclypse and Acne Studio’s Manhattan trainers, you can’t help but feel you’re missing something. High street interpretations of the trend have continuously cropped up, bringing trends from the fashion elite to the masses - usually a pretty clear sign that a trend is here to stay and with both Zara and Nike making a case for the ugly trainer, my opinion could be swayed on the user friendly front.

Man Repeller went so far as to link our love of the ugly trainer to the current political climate, describing them as tools introduced to help ground us during times of unrest. With those thick, sturdy soles, we certainly can’t argue with their ability to ground us.

Refinery29 argue the popularity of the trend has risen in response to society’s growing demand for authenticity with writer Lisa Trautman claiming, “I’m at a point where I prefer something real to all of the selfies, avocados and minimalist apartments on Instagram.”

She’s got a point.

Clearly there’s a lot more to this trend than meets the eye and while I may remain skeptical, I’ll try most trends once.

The survival guide to the ugly trainer revolves around subtle feminine touches. Strike the balance with elegant accessories and dainty earrings. Embrace the clashing nature of a feminine, floaty dress against the masculinity of the shoe. If you dare, wear them after dark - LBD, low denier tights, chunky trainers and ankle socks worn proudly pulled up for all to see.

We won’t let this trend get the better of us.