The trajectory of the running sneaker has been well documented, both visually by street photographers, in word by journalists and a combination of the two by ourselves. The trend has taken the slimmest of silhouettes and made them even slimmer, lower, closer to the ground and tighter to our feet. Technology has provided the means to design and manufacture new fabrics which enable all of the above, and keep us coming back for more colorways. But that’s not to say that we’re returning for a second helping in order to keep our feet on the running track. How many people do you know that wear their Flyknits to actually run in? No matter, it’s had no negative impact on their still-rising sales.
After such a surge in popularity, trends like these gradually begin to reach a saturation point where designers start to look in the opposite direction for inspiration. From Converse All Stars, to Vans California, through to Nike‘s Flyknits, the slimline shoe has reigned supreme for a while. But now it feels designers are eschewing the style for something fresh, something different, something clunky…
The Fall/Winter 2013 adidas x Raf Simons collaboration saw Simons resurrecting some of adidas‘ lesser known silhouettes – the Ozweego and Terrex – and applying unusual colorways that felt almost obnoxious in comparison to the minimal creps we’ve become so accustomed to. Even Nike are trying out clunkier shapes and sizes, including the addition of their Air Trainer 1 Mid “Brogue,” which add bulk to the Air Trainer 1 style with some distinctive brogue elements, along with a return to their fabled ’80s style, the Huarache, rebuilding its repertoire through a slew of original colorways. Nike may have the influential power for almost any of their styles to become completely subsumed into the sneaker world, but there seems to be a pattern emerging with these clunky trainers. The brands are frequently harking back to previous designs, as opposed to just re-imagining new ones. It’s certainly true for Reebok, who are constantly revisiting previous styles. The Pump Fury is resilient enough to keep returning in various iterations, including most recently a camo collaboration with AAPE.
There’s always going to be a million different sneaker styles in circulation, but the significance here is the U-turn from the so widely accepted, and appreciated, slim running style, back to what is pretty much the opposite. The definition of clunky reads, “awkwardly solid, heavy and outdated.” And with so many sneaker brands updating styles from their archives, they are quite literally outdated, but it doesn’t seem like they will be for much longer.