The first time I saw them on the runway, I gulped. “Oh god, no. Please not these.” Then I saw them again. And again. I heard rumors that Kanye was making a pair. I hoped they were wrong. I hoped it was just a designer’s ploy to get people to focus on the clothes. Deveaux? My precious Deveaux was jumping on this? "Can’t be. Has to be a joke," I thought. A meta commentary on the cyclicality of fashion, poking fun at the contemporary hypebeast’s willingness to wear anything as long as the right person says to.
Then Balenciaga put one out. Then the Kanye rumor was confirmed. Streetwear queen Adrienne Ho was and still is all over Instagram wearing them. It was snowballing, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
I’m talking, of course, about the ugly sneaker, this year’s worst goddamn high-fashion craze—one that’s already hit the streets in force and that is, more charitably called the chunky sneaker. And while whatever sadistic fuck created them in the first place deserves a place next to Stalin in the history books, the even more sadistic fuck who thought it’d be a good idea to bring them back deserves a sentence of no less than 120 years, to be served in solitary confinement, in Harvey Weinstein’s taint.
I’m fully aware fashion is cyclical. Fashion designers, like all artists, draw inspiration from the looks of the past, which were inspired by looks from the past, and so on. And I'm not one of those militant anti-trend guys who post photos of the upper-left quarter of their outfit every fucking morning and won't touch sneakers, either. I just happen to think that this particular trend belongs on the list of worst things to happen this year that don't involve politics or sexual assault. And I'm right.
Here’s the thing: the chunky sneaker was never, ever cool. It was never attractive. It came along during the first tech bubble (shit, they even look like a bubble), in the late ‘90s, and lasted through the early 2000s. Remember that time? Tech vests? George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? Who Let the Dogs Out? Fubu made a pair. People who always bought orthopedic shoes became confused. Would-be givers of seventh-grade handjobs learned what self-empowerment was for the first time when they looked down at those stupid fucking shoes and realized that, no, no amount of peer pressure was worth touching the dick of the miserable, lost soul who would strap those hideous offenses to the concept of a shoe to their feet, which should have been chopped off at birth so as to spare everyone the pain and indignity. They were, all of them, fucking atrocious, and they still are. They make you so much more aware than any other piece of fashion does that forced child labor is really a problem the world needs to deal with. They will forever be stains on our shared cultural past. And yet, here they are again. I mean, look at these turds…
Deveaux is probably my favorite label right now. Tell me you don't want to be ensconced in that sweater or swish through life in those trousers. I dare you. Now look at the shoes. They negate it all. Hundreds of dollars worth of rich, beautiful fabrics and expert draping, destroyed, two symbols of “you’re fucking with me, right?” at a time. Simply stunning in their infinite homeliness.
It’s time for us to band together and realize our folly with the chunky sneaker. We're not doing it because it's cool. We're doing it because it's all that's left that hasn't been done in the last few years, because fashion is cycling back on itself faster than ever. But chunky sneakers, no matter who shits them out, are the Donald Trump of footwear—bloated, tacky and self-congratulatory, and they represent a new bubble—one where streetwear and high fashion have become so intertwined that there’s not even a pretense of timelessness, where designers are now just trying shit to see if people will fall for it. It worked for Vetements with cost, but at least their stuff has some cultural and style merit. Chunky sneakers do not. They still look bad with everything. Not enough time has passed. Enough time will never pass. And Kanye, for all his talent and vision, is still a dick. Just the type of dick who would foist this on the world, to prove his influence. I’d implore all you stylish men and women out there to resist this with all your might, but, for one thing, I fear it’s too late, and for another, you’ve done a lot of resisting this year.