Balenciaga has dropped its newest sneaker, and it’s somewhat, er, divisive. The new ZEN style chucks out the chunky soles of the ‘ugly’ sneaker movement of recents years, and swaps them for a slimmer, lighter silhouette. Despite getting a roasting on Twitter, with users suggesting the new ZEN model have an uncanny resemblance to the Lonsdale Benn slip-ons, or PUMA’s Mostro Perf, a popular, but pretty dreadful trainer from the early noughties, we’re wondering, is Balenciaga entering us into a new decade with a new era of style?
Many designers have their own version of the dad-inspired ‘ugly’ trainer - Louis Vuitton, Raf Simons, adidas, for example - but Balenciaga’s 2017 Triple S is the one responsible for a surging desire to invest in footwear resembling that of Steve Martin circa 1991. These clunky, clompy, trip-you-up-on-the-curb creps were one of the last decade’s most defining fashion pieces, so in a way it’s commendable for Balenciaga to take seriously the ‘new year, new you’ approach to its design.
Where many may believe that with trainers it’s a case of ‘the bigger, the better,’ Balenciaga challenges this notion, instead of looking back to the past, it offers this futuristic ZEN model. Inspired by martial arts, football and athleisure technology, the new style is sleek with hidden laces below the tongue. They’re also made with a quilted leather-free polyurethane, which is apt in a climate-conscious society. It steers away from neon hues seen that were intrinsic to the ugly trainer trend, and opts for classic monochromatic tones.
Who knows what the future of fashion has in store for us, but perhaps it’s time to accept that the death of dadcore is officially upon us.