Why are Chunky Sneakers So Popular?

Over the past few years we have seen a falling out from basketball shoes, a rising popularity for runners, and now a new love for chunky sneakers. But what is this new fascination with clunky shoes that people have been made fun of for wearing for years now– well, we’re about to inform you.

Under the radar, chunky sneakers have been a thing for years since way back in the 90’s and early 00’s. There’s been plenty of chunky basketball sneakers through the years, with several Jordan models and the notorious Nike Air Uptempo featuring exaggerated soles and bulky uppers. Let’s also not forget that’s DC sneakers and other skate shoes were popular for a long time.

With the resurgence and mainstreaming of a grunge look, that brought leather jackets and ripped jeans back into popularity it was only a matter of time before bigger shoes came to fit with tighter jeans. The low-top Vans Old Skool overnight became a staple in everybody’s wardrobe again and began trading in their adidas runners for Stan Smith’s and Raf Simons.

The craze really took off when Kanye West introduced his Wave Runner 700, which opted for an overstated sole on a wide upper instead of the sleek sock-like upper that he had previously put on the Yeezy 350. As the Wave Runner began to gain popularity so did the thirst for other chunky sneakers to satisfy the appetite for the bigger low-top sneaker look. The same reason the NMD and Ultra Boost gained popularity after the first Yeezy 350 V1 turtle dove color surfaced.

As the bigger sneakers gained momentum, the previously struggling Nike Vapormax, which was supposed to compete with the adidas Ultra Boost, gained a bit more traction and luxury brands began to take notice. The most popular luxury brand for sneakers now and at the moment, Balenciaga, began pushing their Triple S silhouette heavy on advertising platforms like Hypebeast and with influencers like Luka Sabbat.

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Once Balenciaga had popularity then Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dior, OFF—WHITE, and others followed suit by dropping or re-releasing their own signature chunky sneaker. Further highlighting the influence that streetwear is having on high end fashion, the chunky sneakers are now synonymous with an increasing popularity off luxury sneakers on the street level, a space that was previously dominated by Jordans and athletic sneakers.


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Jelani Arthur Williamson