Both on the runway and in the stands, two words seemed to sum up footwear during Paris Fashion Week this year: ugly sneakers. From Maison Margiela’s moonboot-esque kicks to Jaden Smith’s exaggerated Louis Vuitton arches, the “ugly” sneaker—also in its chunkier forms referred to as the dad shoe—is having a serious moment in the spotlight.
Whether it be New Balance or Balenciaga, this trend is a lot of fun (and perhaps to some dads, a little puzzling). Those looking to invest in a pair can ponder the aforementioned weird-beautiful Louis Vuittons, or perhaps the dreamy cream clunkers from Gucci’s Cruise 2018 collection. For days when something a little more subdued is necessary, though, consider Allbirds.
Created by former professional soccer player Tim Brown, Allbirds sneakers are lightweight, incredibly comfy, and made out of merino wool. And they look as simple as can be.
Wool was a natural choice for Brown, who grew up understanding the material’s abundance in his native New Zealand. He eventually teamed up with San Francisco’s Joey Zwillinger to come up with a shoe-specific merino fabric; the result is New Zealand ZQ-certified and Italian-made, and completely traceable throughout its production. Combined with post-consumer recycled laces and tabs, the shoes are doing their part to make fashion sustainable and environmentally conscious.
Coming in just two styles (the runner and a lounger) in a selection of inoffensive colours, Allbirds—which launched in Canada in March 2018—are comfortable and sleek. They can be worth with or without socks (warning, though: feet can get rather hot in said socks) and in the case of the runners, can be easily slipped on without untying the laces (perfect for those airport security lines). So while they might not be on-trend by the runway’s standards, Allbirds shoes still have a rightful place in the closets of the fashion-forward.