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I’ve been betrayed. One of my favorite apparel brands, JJJOUND — one which I consider the hallmark of good and enduring design, the last great trendless retailer, the mouthpiece of the fashion zeitgeist — just released a new shoe collaboration. With ASICS.
My jaw is on the floor, and I’ve been screaming, crying, and throwing up since they dropped. Soon, once the pre-orders ship, Nolita Dirtbags outside Cafe Leon Dore will be lined up in none other than this very shoe. After that, it’s only a matter of time until you see them on models like Bella Hadid or Hailey Bieber. Then, as the model-off-duty to random-sorority-girl fashion pipeline demands, you’ll start to see them everywhere. On Instagram, on Depop, on BeReal. But they’re ASICS. And they're the new fall trend.
I used to love the ugly shoe trend. Demna Gvasalia, the founder of offbeat luxury brand Vetements and now creative director of Balenciaga, launched the Dad Shoe and Ugly Sneaker trend with his innovative sneakers for Balenciaga. Remember those sock sneakers? And those super clunky Triple S sneakers that were everywhere in like 2017? That was Demna’s work.
With those daring sneaks, Demna made the French fashion house one of the most in-demand luxury brands of our generation. But most of us weren’t dropping over $1000 on purposefully ugly sneakers. No matter how many models paraded around New York in them.
So, of course, ugly shoes with much more affordable price tags were suddenly everywhere. Think the Fila Disruptors, colloquially known as the dino stompers. Even I had a pair of the Acne Studios Manhattan Dad Sneakers — the name says it all. Don’t blame me. The call was strong. And I can’t resist a semi-ironic trend.
But now, it’s gone too far.
Instead of innovative brands reinventing sneakers and shoe shapes to create something unprecedented, they’re just collaborating with actual dad shoes. I could deal with New Balances... I drew the line at Crocs. But now they’re trying to make ASICS cool, and I can’t be silent any longer.
But they’re great running shoes! ASICS fans inevitably exclaim when I begin my tirade on the state of sneaker culture. And I believe them. But this is not my concern. If they’re so suited to running, go run in them! I do not bat an eye when someone jogs past me on the Club WSH in a pair of bright pink ASICS. Power to them! Take them to the gym, go on a hike, even take a long stroll through the city in your ASICS.
But when you roll into Lucien or Kiki’s, dressed to impress, and your shoes of choice are ASICS? Suddenly, it’s my business.
But how did we get here?
Athleisure has proven itself a trend with staying power. It rolled in alongside streetwear culture, then was cemented by the pandemic. Now, we’re living in its wake. On any given night out, one friend will be in a dress and heels while another will be in sweats and sneakers. This is post-athleisure life.
But there are two ways to style this trend. In one version, you actually intend to exercise. You wear Lululemon with gold hoops to the grocery store because you stopped at the gym earlier. Or you wear Hokas with your work dress because your commute home is a long walk on a nice day.
But in the fashion world, the athletic aspect is purely decorative. You wear bike shorts as a juxtaposition to a blazer. You wear pristine sneakers that stay in their box for most of the year.
ASICS, the new cool girl shoevia ASICS
But now the lines are blurred. Is ASICS now aesthetic or athletic? How am I supposed to style them? And if I opt out of this trend, who will tell the fashion community that it’s not because I’m out of the loop — it’s because I promised myself I’d never wear ASICS, but now … here we are.
As a person, you have to have boundaries. You have to have certain moral codes and lines you won't cross. When I told myself I would never wear ASICS, it was in defiance against the act of working out. It was laziness masquerading as a strong sartorial stand.“My sneakers aren’t for exercising in,” I proclaimed. And that was that.
Or so I thought. I didn’t think they would ever collaborate with JJJOUND — whose past collaborations include Reebok, New Balance (specifically a certain pair worn by Oscar Isaac … need I say more), and the late, great Virgil Abloh.
But now, I’m faced with a moral dilemma. A line I drew over an irrelevant pair of sneakers has now plunged me into a fashion and existential crisis. Do I break my pact with myself? Do I rage against the fashion machine?
While I’m here, tossing and turning, hovering my mouse against the “Add to Cart” button, you should do what I can’t. Just buy the ASICS. Wear them out. Be ahead of the trend while it painfully passes me by.