Picture this: It’s 2017. Times are so much simpler, Despacito is the only song you hear on the radio, and the first batch of chunky sneakers have just been revealed. Balenciaga and Yeezy are some of the first to take on the beefy trend, and whether or not you’re even remotely into trainers, you make a joke about them. “Who in their right mind would wear something like that?” you say. “There’s absolutely no way that I’ll ever buy a chunky sneaker. They look so ugly!” you continue.
Well, little did you know that just a couple of years later, the dad shoe fad – which was once the butt of all jokes – would eventually become one of the most popular kinds of shoes that you can buy. Now, every single sneaker company out there has one or two hefty silhouettes (or twenty), and everyone wears them proudly.
If, for whatever reason, you still don’t have a pair in your daily rotation, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll be going through some of the best men’s chunky sneakers of all-time, how to style them, as well as a rundown of some of our favourite styles and colourways ever made. So let’s get to it!
How to style chunky sneakers for men
One of the main things that sets chunky sneakers apart is just how oversized and over-designed they are. Originally inspired by running shoes from the ‘80s and ‘90s, when they first dropped in 2017, they looked exactly like something your parents would’ve worn back in the day. However, as time went on, they changed and adopted their own signature aesthetic. The uppers were bulky and the midsoles were even bulkier. 2017 was also around the year when skinny jeans were all the rage, but pairing these two items together just ended up looking a little silly, so our fits were, in many ways, forced to evolve. So long, spray-ons!
The best way to style chunky sneakers for men is to wear it with something that’s more loose-fitting. An oversized hoodie works wonders and offers up a traditional streetwear vibe, while cargo pants that extend past the ankles go well too. If you’re thinking of slipping on a T-shirt, opt for something that has a pattern or graphics to complement the intricate details of the stocky kicks. We wouldn’t recommend wearing athletic gear like a running tee and shorts with chunky sneakers. While they were initially designed to look like track trainers, those days are long gone, so you might look slightly mismatched.
Best men's chunky sneakers in 2023
The Monviso chunky sneaker by Velasca is a masterpiece of Italian craftsmanship and design. Crafted from supple suede leather, this sneaker is the result of a collaboration with Pininfarina, blending beauty and functionality seamlessly. Designed to tackle any terrain, it features a water-resistant membrane and a Vibram Trail sole that is both shock-absorbent and lightweight, boasting spaced-out rubber studs for superior grip. The removable insole adds to its versatility and comfort. Handmade in Montegranaro, Italy, it embodies the finest traditions of Italian shoemaking, making it a stylish and reliable choice for all weather conditions.
There’s no way we can talk about the best chunky sneakers for men without bringing up WAHTS. Launched in Amsterdam in 2012, it’s celebrated for its menswear essentials that combine premium materials with contemporary sportswear. While they are known mostly for coats, hoodies, and knitwear, its trainer collections have started to gain steam too. The Farell and Finn are two of its greatest pairs, but the Norris is the one to watch. Crafted from luxurious Italian suede, it’s both hefty and sleek at the same time. It also sits on top of a huge rubber insole that’s infused with Vibram – a tech that’s usually reserved for some of the world’s greatest running shoes.
For the past five years, TropicFeel has been about going on new adventures and trying new things. While its trainers have always been quite lightweight and packable, it recently decided to delve into the unfamiliar world of chunky sneakers, and the results have been quite phenomenal to say the least. The Canyon is now a must-own for all travellers, and the Geyser Great has quickly become one of its most popular pairs.
Chunky sneakers are all about going over the top, not only with proportions, but also with materials. While most companies can overdo it to the detriment of the environment, CLAE is one of the few who has Mother Nature’s best interests at heart. Since 2001, the Los Angeles-based label has been releasing some of the most eco-friendly shoes in the business. For instance, pairs like the August are made from organic canvas, while the Bradley is crafted from cacti. However, one of CLAE’s biggest innovations to date has got to be the Malone that’s made from AppleSkin – a bio-based leather alternative that’s derived from apple pomace discarded by the juice industry.
Without a shadow of a doubt, ASICS is one of the most storied trainer companies in the history of mankind, to the point that we could write an entire book just about its first five years. Basically, the Japanese sportswear brand was established almost eight decades ago, and in many ways, if it weren’t for them, other industry giants like Nike wouldn’t even exist. We’re not going to go too in-depth about this, but it’s definitely something that’s worth reading up on. ASICS is known far and wide for its chunky sneakers. From the GEL-1130 to the GT-2160, there are literally hundreds of different ASICS that fall under this category. However, the GEL-Kayano 14 is probably the best of the bunch. With countless coveted collaborations throughout the years, hype surrounding this model is truly unparalleled.
Balenciaga was one of the first brands who were brave enough to take on the chunky sneaker trend back in the day, so adding them to this article is a no-brainer. To the uninformed, the Parisian label seems quite new considering how much of an impact it has made on the world of modern streetwear. However, to you and me, it’s actually one of the oldest fashion houses in the world, dating back to the year 1919. If you’re in the market for some big trainers and you’ve got some big pockets, check out pairs like the Defender, Track, and the Triple S. These are all quite oversized, but they pale in comparison to comically-massive silhouettes such as the 3XL or even the 10XL, which was literally just revealed at its Fall 2024 runway show in Los Angeles.
Considered by many to be the granddad of all dad shoes, New Balance has come a very, very long way over the past couple of years. Once a brand worn by those who cared more about function over form, it’s now one of the most hyped names in the game, with ground-breaking colourways, collaborations, and collections coming from some of the fashion industry’s greatest designers. While it’s hard to pinpoint when New Balance became so popular, we would estimate that it was towards the end 2021, about the time when Aimé Leon Dore’s Teddy Santis was crowned the new creative director of NB’s Made in USA division. Since then, models like the 860v2, 990, and 1906R have all infiltrated everyone’s collections. And even if you didn’t like New Balance before, we guarantee that you’re obsessed with them now.
Nike is one of the most successful trainer companies ever. In fact, it’s currently the most valuable fashion brand in the world, beating out heritage houses like Chanel, Gucci, and even Louis Vuitton. In the past, the American sportswear imprint was known mostly for its innovative running shoes, however, even they couldn’t resist jumping on the chunky sneaker trend. The Air Monarch is, without a doubt, its most legendary silhouette, but recently Nike has also taken the wraps off of a bunch of other bulky pairs like the Air Huarache Craft, M2K Tekno, Tech Hera, and of course, the VaporMax Plus.
When you think of Oakley, the first thing that pops into mind is its sunglasses, the second is its goggles, and the third is its accessories. But, believe it or not, Oakley is quickly becoming one of the leaders in the world of chunky sneakers. In 2021, the Californian company teamed up with cult streetwear label Brain Dead to bring back the Chop Saw and the Flesh. These silhouettes were lost in the ether, but now that they’re back, they’ve gained themselves a solid following, with Instagram and TikTok feeds being dominated by them. At the end of 2023, Oakley and Brain Dead reunited for the Edge Boot, which sold out within minutes of launching. Now, that’s what you call hype.
Stepney Workers Club
Even though Stepney Workers Club is a pretty small name when compared to some of the giants in this article, it’s still worthy of a mention. Based in East London, it’s inspired by the inclusive culture of traditional workers' sports clubs. Even though it’s only been around since 2018, it has already partnered up with some of major brands and designers, including Goodhood, Junya Watanabe, and Pop Trading Company. It has also debuted a vast range of ground-breaking models like the Lister, Pearl S-Strike, and the all-new Amiel S-Strike.