At one point in 2017, you couldn’t walk into a club or down Orchard Road without seeing somebody wearing a pair of Triple S sneakers by Balenciaga.
The iconic pair of kicks — defined by their chunky, multi-segmented soles, colourful upper sections, and your shoe size embroidered to the round front of the sneaker — became an instant hit as soon as it hit stores worldwide. Retailers have all said that they struggled to keep a constant stock of the sneaker, and the sneakers became an integral part of a global tsunami that would wash over the entire fashion industry, bringing with it a reinvigorated love for ‘90s-inspired athleisure. Suddenly, it became cool again to wear dad jeans, chunky sneakers, and an oversized neon puffer jacket.
Balenciaga wasn’t the only one to recognise the trend with their version of the “ugly fashion sneaker”, as brands including Louis Vuitton (with their Archlight), Prada (with their Cloudbust) and H&M (with a thigh-high sneaker) released their own editions that only joined the increasingly saturated sneaker scene.
Yet in recent times, it seems like the “ugly fashion sneaker” has started to show signs of fatigue.
Websites such as SSENSE and Matches Fashion — once part of the aforementioned group of retailers who often listed the Triple S with a “Sold Out” sign — now have plenty of pairs still listed in plenty of different sizes. Prada’s Cloudbust — previously a must-have for fashion week attendees who had to showcase their street cred on Instagram — has also seen a slight dip in popularity on social media, with an 85% drop in hashtag usage on Instagram over the past three weeks.
Once an icon for the style setter who believes it is cool to buck generic trends in favour of more alternative — and at times, ugly — designs, we’re now tipping past the peak of the ugly fashion sneaker simply because it has become a general trend.
Lyst, an online fashion search engine that publishes a quarterly report of the most-searched items, has also shown the fall of the “ugly fashion sneaker”.
In the third quarter of 2018, Balenciaga’s Triple S sneakers ranked third amongst the hottest men’s products of the year, and Gucci’s Flashtrek sneaker — a crossbreed between chunky sneakers and the Infinity Gauntlet from the Avengers movies — ranked eighth on the women’s charts.
A year later, the same report showed that both ugly fashion sneakers dropping off the radar entirely. (The only “ugly sneaker” to make 2019’s third quarter listing came from Raf Simons’ collaboration with Adidas.)
The verdict is official: people love their sneakers, just not the “ugly fashion sneaker” anymore.