After years of nip-and-tuck tailoring and skinny-fit jeans, fashion is finally deciding to let loose. From high end to high street, designers are trading in tight and tiny silhouettes for wide waists, billowy bottoms and juiced-up jackets. This season’s hottest athleisure, skater and street trends have all made the sartorial shift from slim-line to supersized, and footwear has followed suit.
The chunky trainer is back, and it’s bigger and better than ever. No longer consigned to your old man’s wardrobe, dad sneakers are the new way to dial up your look this season.Penelope Armstrong (boohooMAN Senior Menswear Designer)
- What are chunky trainers?
- What to wear with chunky trainers for men?
- How to rock the dad sneakers trend for guys?
- When to wear chunky trainers?
- Chunky trainers outfits for men
- Take-home message
What Are Chunky Trainers?
With standout silhouettes, voluminous proportions and eye-catching colourways, today’s chunky trainers are pretty hard to miss. These bulky kicks are characterised by their heavy-set platform soles and can go by a variety of names – turbo trainers, chunky sole trainers, old man sneakers and (to the less enamoured) ugly trainers. Look out for raised rubber mid-soles and rugged, multi-layered outsoles, often accompanied by padded tongues, wedged heels, wide heel tabs and thick flat or hiker style laces.
Who started the chunky sneaker trend?
The big trainer trend has some big-name roots. Raf Simons is often credited with pioneering the first luxury thick-soled sneaker when he redesigned the classic adidas Ozweego shoe. It wasn’t until Balenciaga’s Triple S shoe stomped down the runway in 2017, however, that high-end designers really began to think big.
This iconic triple-layered sneaker became one of the coveted trainers in the luxury market, followed by the curvaceous Louis Vuitton Archlight sneaker a year later. The chunky trainer has since gained widespread unisex appeal. Today, designers such as Fendi, Versace, Gucci, Maison and Stella McCartney are all advocating that big is better.
Celebrities wearing chunky shoes
Off the catwalk, chunky sneakers have marched their way onto the high street, and their exaggerated silhouettes have been taking up space in countless celeb wardrobes. Migos, Big Boi, Justin Bieber, Jaden Smith, Pharrell Williams and Travis Scott have all been stepping out in thick-soled dad shoes, while Kanye West’s bulky YEEZY line is committed to keeping it big.
Are chunky sneakers still in?
The chunky trainer trend goes hand in hand with high fashion’s current obsession with extreme sportswear, meaning big kicks have never been more in style. The fuller-figured sneaker has been given a futuristic facelift for 2020, however. Dad’s old orthopaedic trainers have been seriously revamped with metallic and holographic finishes, electric colours and technical fabrics that deliver effortlessly cool millennial style.
What to Wear with Chunky Trainers for Men?
While chunky trainers are anything but subtle, these bold kicks can be a surprisingly versatile way to uplift your daily repertoire. The key is to strap yourself in to a design with just the right amount of bulk for your frame and team with similarly oversized layers of sportswear or streetwear. This trend is one you need to fully commit to. So pack a sartorial punch with chunky trainers in statement neon colours or opt for a design with super raised platforms, then keep your look sporty or street from head to toe.
What to wear with white chunky trainers?
- A varsity jacket
- A white tee
- Relaxed fit jeans
- Grey joggers
Nostalgic, urban and comfy, dad sneakers are the perfect kicks to compliment this season’s varsity or letterman jacket trend. Pair all-white chunky trainers with a varsity jacket in bold primary red or blue shades and add some black relaxed fit jeans for head-to-toe retro style. Alternatively, introduce a pair of white chunky kicks to your grey jogger and white tee combo to give your clean, modern monochrome look a little extra depth.
What to wear with black chunky trainers?
- A black biker jacket
- An overcoat
- A plain white tee
- Relaxed fit chinos
- Distressed dark wash jeans
Try using a pair of black chunky sole trainers to add a playful edge to some of your more polished pieces. Introduce these chunky soles to your wool dress trousers, relaxed fit chinos or your sharpest overcoat to strike the perfect casual-smart balance. Alternatively, layer a black biker jacket over a plain white tee and distressed dark wash jeans and add a pair of all black chunky trainers for some off-duty, on-trend monochrome magic.
How to Rock the Dad Sneakers Trend for Guys?
- Pair them with loose fit or oversized pieces
- Opt for colourful styles rather than all-white models
- Team them with 90s-inspired outfits and accessories
- Match them with cropped bottoms
- Wear them with confidence
- Avoid skinny jeans
Pair them with loose fit or oversized pieces
The key to pulling off these sneakers is balance, and pairing your bulky kicks with relaxed-fit clothing is the best way to keep your proportions in check. Think hoodies, bombers and oversized jackets up top, and straight-leg chinos, joggers and cargo trousers below. Layer up in a black or navy puffer jacket, add loose-fit joggers and step into a pair of beefed up trainers for a perfectly proportioned outfit that’s right on trend.
Opt for colourful styles rather than all-white models
While all-white trainers have a cool, sophisticated edge, colourful kicks are a little easier to match across your wardrobe, and they will add visual interest to your fits. Experiment with neon shades and strong primary hues, or take the opportunity to dabble in the pastel trend with pale pink soles or contrasting aqua laces. Still keen on white? Choose white dad trainers that boast a vibrant flame, holographic or metal pattern, or opt for more wearable off-white shades such as ecru, stone or light grey.
Team them with 90s-inspired outfits and accessories
Platform trainers perfectly balance out the oversized silhouettes of 90s fashion, pairing easily with many of the decade’s favourite fashion staples: oversized flannel shirts, baggy jeans, padded shoulders and boxy over-shirts. Try teaming your black denim jacket with dark wash ripped jeans and a loose-fit tee, add a pair of colourful chunky kicks and complete the look with a retro snapback cap.
Match them with cropped bottoms
Show off your kicks with cropped or pin-rolled trousers – just remember to stick to wide cuts and never, ever go sockless. Cropped black or camo cargo pants pair well with black socks and all-black chunky kicks, while cuffed leg grey joggers or light cropped chinos work well with white kicks and white socks in the warmer months. Throw a satiny bomber on top for a little texture and an extra edge.
Wear them with confidence
The best way to rock the dad sneaker trend is to fully embrace the extreme aesthetic of these bulky trainers and go all in. Try matching your soles to your clothes to make your trainers the focal point of your outfit and lend your look a fresh streetwear edge. Coordinate chunky pastel pink soles with a pastel puffer, for example, or match your laces to your gilet, bomber jacket, windbreaker or hoodie. For an effortlessly cohesive look, pick one shade from your multi-coloured kicks and parade it with a coordinating beanie, baseball cap or chest bag.
Avoid skinny jeans
Teaming chunky kicks with skinny jeans is a fashion no-no that will make your feet look of fun-house proportions. Instead, style your dad trainers with loose-fit ripped jeans or classic straight-leg jeans, and pair with a boxy, acid wash tee for a laid-back vibe that’s expertly balanced.
When to Wear Chunky Trainers?
YES: casual and leisure occasions
Dad sneakers add an athletic edge to any outfit, and their sporty aesthetic lends itself to countless casualwear combos. Team all-white chunky trainers with beige joggers and a biker jacket for a modern evening ensemble, or introduce a pair of neutral-toned kicks to your field jacket and jeans combo for dapper daytime style. For an off-duty ensemble you can take from morning to evening, team your black chinos with a check shirt and complete the look by stepping into some black chunky trainers.
While chunky sneakers look great at the weekend, these bold kicks are not recommended office attire and definitely not suited to corporate environments. Creative industries can often get away with a more casual aesthetic, but it’s still best to save your streetwear for the streets. Instead, dress your neutral-toned chunky trainers up with a smart overcoat, black chinos and a wool turtleneck.
Chunky Trainers Outfits for Men
Rock a relaxed, off-duty rig-out by styling a light wash denim jacket with black chinos and a pair of chunky black kicks. Or team your favourite camo parka with black joggers and white chunky sneakers. Feeling confident? Showcase your fun side with multi-coloured kicks or two-tone trainers with contrasting soles and pair with your streetwear favourites: ripped jeans, cargo trousers, baggy hoodies and graphic tees.
The maximalist trend shows no signs of losing momentum either in fashion or footwear. These titanic trainers bridge the gap between sportswear and casualwear. And, with today’s reinventions, they’ve managed to marry fashion and function, too. Love them or hate them, plus-sized sneakers are here to stay. So go big or go home with a pair of comfy, chunky kicks that command attention.