Sneaker trends, just like the entirety of human existence, have undergone evolution. The dad shoe trend gave way to ugly and overly chunky sneakers, which in turn gave way to what we’re affectionally calling crazy sole sneakers.
One of the biggest proponents of crazy-soled shoes has been Matthew Williams, who designed a proprietary sole unit for his 1017 ALYX 9SM footwear and has used it for everything from Chelsea boots to Clogs. Maison Margiela — whose split-toe Tabi shoes are already on the wilder end of the spectrum — has gone for a distinct “bubble” look, giving various formal styles a distinct, “Air Max”-inspired look that blends more conservative aesthetics with sportswear-like features.
Crazy soles come in all shapes, sizes, and aesthetics, so whether you’re more into chunky stompers a la Rick Owens, or prefer geometric masterpieces such as the Balenciaga Tyrex, our selection below has you covered.
Nike’s air-filled midsole truly changed the sneaker game when it debuted in the Nike Air Tailwind in 1979. Since then, the revolutionary technology has taken a bit of a backseat in the performance category but has flourished in lifestyle sneakers. That’s why it shouldn’t come as a surprise when high-end brands look to replicate the success Nike has found with its Air technology — imitation is the highest form of flattery, after all.
Below, we have some Nike Air-inspired efforts from Alexander Wang, Alexander McQueen, and SHOES 53045, as well as a pair of sneakers that have reinterpreted the “bubble” design quite literally from Maison Margiela. Funnily enough, the Nike Air Max 720 ISPA is still the craziest of the lot.
Who said school wouldn’t prepare you for the real world? If you paid any attention in art, shop, or math class, you’ll recognize everything from advanced geometry to the use of color blocking and different textures in our selection below. The Maison Mihara Yasuhiro sneaker is a personal favorite, as the sneaker’s bold black outlines remind strongly of Piet Mondrian’s iconic style of painting. Other options include HOKA ONE ONE’s fantastic Elevon 2, whose midsole looks like it was carved out of ash green marble, as well as the wildly shaped Acne Studios Bolzter and Craig Green x adidas Originals Kontuur I.
One look at Balmain’s new BBold sneaker should explain exactly what this category is all about. A bulbous, spring-like sole unit is attached to an otherwise sleek upper. Chinese brand Li-Ning is known for its outrageous designs, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that its Sunchaser sneaker has made it into our selection. Similarly, Balenciaga has a history of pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in sneaker design, the human anatomy-inspired Tyrex being no exception.
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