It seems that fashion trends are always evolving, from low-rise jeans and flashy, over-the-top belts of the early 2000s to the more minimalist trends of the following decade. But if you think about it, fashion simply cycles through the same trends every five decades or so.
Case in point: the chunky sneakers.
Chunky sneakers, also known as “dad shoes” or “ugly sneakers,” have become increasingly popular in the last five years. Challenging the “less is more” mentality, chunky waterproof shoes for men and women pair well with virtually all outfits.
However, the craze for these exaggeratedly-thick platform sneakers originated as far back as the 1990s.
The Origins of Chunky Sneakers
While chunky sneakers started to gain traction in the last five years, the trend originated as far back as the 1980s.
The Etnies Natas 1s were the shoes that started it all. These OG chunky sneakers were originally skating shoes. Hence, they weren’t nearly as bulky as modern iterations, but they definitely had that quintessential over-the-top appeal.
The trend was still in full swing in the next decade, with pop culture icons sporting midriff shirts, low-rise jeans, and platform sneakers. The ridiculously-chunky Buffalo London Classics were the flag bearers for this trend, made iconic by the British girl group Spice Girls.
In 2003, Nike experimented with their take on the chunky shoe profile with the Nike Air Monarch. Up until now, big bulky sneakers were exclusive to the youth. But the Air Monarchs quickly became a staple for middle-aged men, giving rise to the term “dad shoes.”
By the start of the 2010s, it seemed that the chunky sneaker trend had finally died down. But with the Adidas Raf Simons Ozweegos reviving the rage, this timeless silhouette stood the test of time again. This revival was so successful that many people mistakenly cite it as the origins of the chunky sneaker trend.
Soon, luxury brands like Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci hopped on the trend. But it was really the 2017 Kanye x Adidas Yeezy collaboration that changed the course of sneaker history forever.
The rest, as they say, is history.
How to Style Chunky Sneakers
Perhaps the biggest appeal of chunky shoes is their versatility. Ironically, these so-called “ugly sneakers” pair well with almost anything, from mini dresses and athleisure to smart casual fits.
That being said, you need to pay heed to proportions when sporting chunky sneakers. Since bulky shoes make your OOTD very bottom-heavy, try balancing the weight via your torso or legs. Here’s how:
- Oversized T — a baggy t-shirt or sweater looks great with chunky sneakers. Just make sure to wear something figure-hugging on your legs to balance out the bagginess.
- Flare Pants — chunky sneakers and flare pants were the OG combo back when the trend first emerged, and the combination is just as stylish today. The key is to wear something form-fitting on your torso to counteract the bulkiness around your ankles.
- Short Skirts — keeping your legs bare is the perfect way to balance out the bulkiness of your chunky sneakers.
- Long Skirts — if you want to wear long skirts with bulky shoes, body-con maxis or side slits will help you keep the proportions right.
5 Best Chunky Sneakers
These top five chunky sneakers scream 90s nostalgia.
1. Loom Waterproof Shoes for Men and Women
- Waterproof H2-Go layer
- Merino wool cushioning
- Podiatrist-designed Exelcast sole
- Stain and dirt-proof
- Slip-come resistant
If you’re looking for a pair of chunky sneakers to snazz up your outfit while also being insanely practical, look no further than the Loom Waterproof shoes for men and women.
Loom Footwear is the luminary in chic and utilitarian footwear. These minimalist-style sneakers pay homage to the beginnings of the chunky sneaker trend, with large, cushioned heels and a bold silhouette. With a deceptively clean and elegant toe box, Loom sneakers personify “business in the front, party in the back.”
You can style these shoes with virtually any outfit, rendering them an indispensable staple in your wardrobe. They come in two quintessential minimalist colors: black and white. However, contrasting textures, patterns, and colors adorning the entire shoe create more depth and versatility.
But in addition to their unmatched looks, these shoes are equally unmatched in their performance and practicality.
Loom waterproof sneakers are engineered for comfort. Their extensive cushioning system, lightweight and flexible build, and breathable materials render them the ideal waterproof running shoes women and men can sport on their daily jogs.
Moreover, the shoes are 100% waterproof and stainproof. Come rain or shine, Loom waterproof sneakers will be your go-to chunky footwear.
2. Buffalo London Women’s Low-top Sneakers
- Leather upper
- 6-cm platform heel
- Treaded sole
- 100% waterproof
- Perfect fit with memory foam
Channel your inner Spice Girls with these over-the-top chunky platform sneakers by Buffalo London. These now-iconic platform shoes were characteristic of the dramatic 90s fashion era- an era that is making a timely comeback.
The shoes boast a pure calf leather upper, putting them in the same league as luxury footwear brands. In addition, a wide color and pattern range maximizes their versatility. The color options include Blanco (off-white), baby pink, white, black, white rose glitter, tan, leopard turquoise, silver, black multi dots, Croco black, and multicolored silver.
Rest assured, you’ll find a style that reflects your personal aesthetic.
Stitch detailing adorns the entirety of the shoe’s upper, creating the illusion of layers. Furthermore, the Buffalo London logo embellishes the sides, tongue, front lace, and heel counter.
But the real star of the show is the 6-cm platform heel. This iconic platform sole was the first of its kind, with fans fondly calling it the “Cloud Sole.”
The meaning of this name is two-fold. First, the high-rise heels give you that extra bit of height. Second, the memory foam insoles are unbelievably snug and cozy, making you feel like you’re floating on cloud nine.
3. Fila Disruptor II Premium
- 100% premium leather upper
- Lightweight EVA midsole
- Molded rubber outsole
- Removable insole
- Perforated upper
- Breathable mesh lining
- Unique eyebrow detailing
Fila is a multinational sportswear manufacturer, so you know they don’t mess around when it comes to footwear. The Fila Disruptor II Premium is a flagship Fila sneaker with an international fanbase, and for good reasons, too.
The Disruptor II boasts a synthetic leather upper, available in over 40 different color combinations. With a bulky sole and heavy-set upper, these retro shoes look like they’ve come straight out of the 90s.
However, there’s more than meets the eye to these chunky aesthetic sneakers. As sportswear shoes, they’re built with comfort, durability, and performance in mind.
While most leather shoes are non-breathable, the Disruptor II bypasses this problem thanks to its perforated toe box. Furthermore, the inclusion of a breathable mesh lining makes them ideal for all weather.
Moreover, the shoes have removable insoles to make room for special inserts. The padded tongue and collar give them that extra comfort factor for even the most straining activities.
Plus, the chunky heel isn’t just for show. Instead, the highly-cushioned soles add that extra spring to your step while protecting your feet from potential injuries.
4. Converse Run Star Motion Platform Trainers
- Organic cotton canvas upper
- Signature Converse All-Star branding
- High-top design
- Wavy platform soles
- Exaggerated jagged treat
- Shock-absorbent cushioning
If you want to go the “ugly sneakers” route, take the plunge with these Converse Run Star Motion Platform Trainers.
From humble beginnings on the basketball court, it wasn’t long before the Converse All star high-tops achieved iconic status. These gaudy iterations of the classic All-Star silhouette prove that Converse is in a league of its own.
The shoes feature an expressive, eye-catching, lugged outsole, which isn’t for the faint of heart. However, the upper stays true to the classic All-Star high-top profile, balancing out the bottom-heavy style of these shoes.
Hence, you’ll get all the best features of the beloved All-Star, with the additional retro flair of the 90s.
5. Lucky Step Reflective Chunky Sneakers
- Holographic/ Iridescent design
- 5-cm platform sole
- Lightweight and flexible
- Memory foam insole
Flashy, reflective, and unapologetic— the Lucky Step Reflective Chunky Sneakers are the epitome of 90s fashion. Far from “ugly shoes,” these colorful and reflective shoes are the dream purchase for all holosexuals!
The shoes come in 16 colors and style options: black, charcoal, white hologram, beige, black with chain, hologram silver, pink, purple, red, red with chain, rose gold, rose gold with chain, white, silver, neon green, and neon yellow.
Hence, there’s a color option for everyone.
As far as comfort goes, these chunky sneakers don’t disappoint. They’re good for a walk around the block or a fun night out, but not so much for running or high-impact exercises.
However, the shoes never claimed to supplement physical activity. At the end of the day, these vivid and striking shoes are all about making a fashion statement.
When it comes to iconic fashion pieces, only a few have stood the test of time. Chunky sneakers are one such trend that will never go out of style.
Indeed, only a few fashion trends are as practical as they are stylish. Chunky waterproof sneakers for men and women will keep you sure-footed in all walks of life, all while making you look fabulous.