What’s Next For The Dad Shoe?
What’s Next For The Dad Shoe?

What’s Next For The Dad Shoe?

You can’t stay at the top forever. It’s been years since Balenciaga and New Balance first set the ‘dad shoe’ trend by going all chunky and oversized. More recently, we’ve seen the likes of adidas and Onitsuka Tiger shifting us towards sleeker silhouettes. So, has the dad shoe’s moment finally passed? We asked Sapna to take a look…
By Sapna Rao

@PoppyAlmond; @CRATESPH


My earliest memory of the fashion dad shoe is an extreme one: the Balenciaga Triple S. If you can’t quite visualise this monstrously chunky bad boy, just consider that the ‘Triple S’ here stands for ‘triple sole’. Yikes.

Nevertheless, despite its price tag, it was a popular style for a lengthy period among the streetwear and model-off-duty crowds. That was until sports brands like adidas and New Balance revived some of their nostalgic styles to offer a more affordable, and arguably more wearable, alternative. That’s when the New Balance 990 really took over – remember its billboards with the tag, ‘Worn by supermodels in London, and dads in Ohio’? How spot on. 

Remember the billboards when New Balance 990s took over: ‘Worn by supermodels in London, and dads in Ohio’. How spot on.

This was probably peak dad shoe as several other styles and brands jumped into the trend. There were the NB 530s, while adidas and Yeezy spearheaded a sportier, lighter-than-air take with their Waverunners. Axel Arigato and Nike were also key players. 


Most people reference the Samba as the shoe that changed it all. One day we all saw Hailey Bieber or Bella Hadid in a pair; six months later, they’re the only trainers you see all over Instagram and they’re sold out everywhere. But really the shift probably began earlier with New Balance’s 550s, which were one of the most loved trainers across 2021 and 2022.

Either way, the success of these pared-back styles probably has its roots in the ‘quiet luxury’ movement that emerged during the pandemic. Compared to a dad shoe, Sambas are a simple, understated shoe that can be worn for multiple occasions. 

More recently, with OG Samba styles becoming ubiquitous, influencers and the Gen Z crowd are opting for more colourful versions as a way to add extra interest to their looks. This is where the Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66s have come in – and there have been plenty of collabs too (shout out to Wales Bonner). 

@PoppyAlmond; @KaiaGerber.Style; @KaitlynRutsLedge


For me, the rise of the simple shoe is nothing more than the result of the ever-swinging pendulum of trends. It’s like the year when tiny bags were everywhere (shout out to the Jacquemus Chiquito circa 2019) then the next year, the fashion crowd were all about maxi and tote bags. With the dad shoe, we swung so far into the chunky, oversized silhouette that the only way to go from there was the opposite end of the spectrum – sleek, simple and minimal.

This is how fashion evolves. The key thing for me is not to get too caught up in it all. I never bought a pair of Sambas. When I saw a gap in my wardrobe for some fun, colourful trainers, I got myself a pair of red Gazelles, which at the time were under £90 and easy to get your hands on. Since then, I’ve added a couple of new colourways to my collection because they’ve proved to be a style I can slot into my day-to-day wardrobe really easily. The lesson here is to wear what you like and what makes you feel good.

Right now, I’m really liking the stylish middle ground between Sambas and dad shoes. Think Asics and Salomons.

But if you are a trainer lover, I’d also get acquainted with resell platforms, stat. Because trainer trends can be so fickle, you want to be able to pass on and resell styles you’re no longer interested in. I love doing this on Vestiaire Collective or StockX. I then use that money to buy a different style (often also pre-loved) that I’ll actually wear. 

Right now, I’m really liking the stylish middle ground between Sambas and dad shoes. Think Asics and Salomons. Both brands have a sleek look and feel, while being a little more oversized and sporty. They also have colourways to suit any vibe you lean towards. Their price tags are similar to Sambas’ and most are much easier to come by at retail price. It’s also easy to see where the money’s going, if you consider the innovative aspects of the shoes – Salomons are waterproof and some even have a Gore-Tex lining as they were originally designed for hiking. Think of them as slimmed-down dad shoes 2.0.

@PopplyAlmond; @Torietagliavia; @Wilmateittinen

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