Over the past few years, there's been a lot of changes in the sneaker landscape. First, the Pandemic forced a lot of brilliant young minds to stay at home and inadvertently brought about a tidal wave of botters. These tech-savvy youngsters had the aptitude and free time to dial in their craft and raise the stakes of the resell game to an all-time high.
Then came dunk-mania. The Nike Dunk was once relegated to outlets and true blue skaters until the day Virgil Abloh decided they were cool again. Dunks were no longer the shoe you were stuck with because they were cheap and easy to access, but they became the most sought-after silhouette on the market. For a while, no matter what colorway Nike released, it would sell out instantly and resell for top dollar. No shoe symbolized this movement more than the Panda Dunk. The meteoric rise of the super simple black and white low top was legendary, but alas, the shoe, once deemed unbrickable, eventually restocked too many times and can now be found sitting on shelves worldwide.
Now, we find ourselves in the middle of the next movement in sneaker culture, The Rise Of The Dad Shoe. The comfort-forward shoes initially designed for running and walking have now begun to see high-end material usage and collaborations with some of the biggest names in design. While brands like New Balance and Asics have always had their cult-like followings, the chunky-soled crepes are now becoming mainstream.
Hidden NY x Salomon XT-4 “Vanilla Ice”
Not only have Dad Shoes seen all manner of collaborations like the Action Bronson x New Balance, Kith x Asics x X-Men, and the Hidden NY x Solomon, but they’ve also seen a huge in-flux in GR releases. Countless colorways and hype drops have led this style to a meteoric rise in sales on the aftermarket.
In a new report, StockX gathered data from the previous 12 months and revealed some staggering statistics. During the reporting period, several brands associated with the Dad Shoe movement have seen a meteoric rise in sales. StockX reports that sales of Asics have risen 72%, Salomon has jumped 202%, but the most staggering of all is the 15,357% rise of On Running shoes. For context, On Running does not have nearly the history of Asics, Salomon, or New Balance, so it's easier for them to show growth.
The fact that these brands are the first names on the list is staggering; it tells you all you need to know about the current state of sneaker hype. Obviously, Nike and Adidas still dominate in terms of overall volume, but the growth factor shown by StockX is what really indicates what’s hot right now. Is this just a moment in time, or are Dad Shoes here to stay? Only time will tell.
Joe Freshgoods x New Balance 990 V3 “Outside Clothes”
When looking at this growth, you have to ask just how this happened. How did the Dad Shoe movement come to pass? As mentioned earlier, the shoes themselves are nothing new; these brands and silhouettes have been around for ages.
So what changed?
Sneakerheads changed, or shall I say, aged. They grew older. All the people that were kids running around in the Golden Era of sneakers in the early 90s aren’t kids anymore. They saw Michael Jordan play basketball live; they had Air Max 95s in 1995, but now they’re in their 40s. With that age comes changes, physical changes. The knees hurt, the legs cramp up, and chasing kids around all day can wear you down. So naturally, you start to look for comfort first. You stop chasing after the latest retros and start looking for arch support. It's not just comfort, though, these middle-aged hypebeasts still want to look fresh when picking up the kids from school.
Dime x ASICS GT-2160 “Arctic Wolf”
Not only are the consumers changing, but the designers are, too. Look at the names of the collaborators making waves these days. Teddy Santis, Joe Freshgoods, Ronnie Fieg, and JJJJustin Saunders are all in their late 30s to early 40s. Ye West is actually in his 50s. These are the people who say what's cool, and it's not too far-fetched to think they all fall into the same demographic mentioned in the paragraph above.
These people put out the heat, and the streets react. The hype builds, and eventually, the Dad Shoe bleeds into the younger demographics; soon enough, it's a full-on movement. The numbers bare it out, the releases the releases confirm the numbers, and movement grows. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll see Travis Scott drop the reversed swoosh on an Air Monarch.
Today's sneaker culture finds itself on unfamiliar tides. Air Jordans are routinely sitting still available a week after release, and many are hitting the sale rack. Dunks aren’t what they used to be. Yeezys routinely fall flat, and NMDs don’t even exist for all intents and purposes. However, the Asics Gel-Kayano 14 sells out in seconds and resells for $100 over retail. New Balance has somehow become the most botted website in the world, and Joe Freshgoods set the record for most units moved in an Instagram Shop release when he introduced the New Balance 9060.
Bodega x Hoka Tor Ultra Low “The World At Large”
These examples are not coincidences. They are a pattern, a pattern that represents a changing of the guard. The old guard of Nike and Adidas is falling off, and the Dad Shoe brands are on the rise, led by New Balance. Make no mistake, Nike has noticed, and if you think they will go quietly into the night, you are sorely mistaken. They pulled the Vomero 5 out of the archives and put out a new colorway seemingly every week. Much like the other successful Dad Shoes, the Vomero 5 started as a performance running shoe and has now been reintroduced with great success as a fashionable lifestyle shoe.
If you’re still wondering how this happened, it’s a simple evolution. Sneaker culture as we know it today was born in the late 80s to early 90s, and the people that were around then are grown up and older now. When you get older, your style changes, and you settle down a little from the fast lane you lived in during your 20s. Functionality comes to the forefront, and your style matures. Then, you pass that style on to the younger generation, and the movement continues.