From Sock Crocs to bum bag sandals: fashion’s perfect storm of shoe ugliness

Ugly fashion is big business, but for shoes, it has now become something of an arms race. This week saw the launch of the $140 (£105) “Sport” Sock Croc – part Croc, part tube sock – and the Nike Benassi bum bag sandals, which appear to be just that.

Although aesthetically worlds apart, they do share some time-saving, practical principles. The Sock Croc is a collaboration between Crocs and 90s New York brand Alife, which bring together two elements of the ugly shoe trend in one – Crocs and sock sandals – while paying “homage to the socks-and-Crocs lifestyle”, whatever that is. The Benassi bum bag sandal, meanwhile, is a slider with a small zipped bum bag in lieu of a foot strap, allowing you to carry very small things on your feet.

While both sound like a joke fleshed out in a marketing meeting, and quite possibly both are – the fastest way to sell a pair of shoes, it seems, is to describe them as ugly – they actually mark a cornerstone moment for a trend that has become impossible to ignore. For one, it’s harder to find normal shoes than ugly shoes – see the clompy Balenciaga Triple S trainers, sky-high Crocs at Balenciaga, thigh-high trainer boots at this week’s Louis Vuitton Cruise show, and the trickle-down effect to the high street at Fila and Topshop. And, second, we seem to be witnessing a perfect storm of elective ugliness. Given ugly shoes are now interbreeding, it might be interesting to see where this trend goes next.

Regardless of how wearable this stuff is, it speaks of a change within the industry and suggests notions of beauty have shifted: that beauty and ugliness are not opposites, but rather aspects of the same thing; that prizing practicality over leg-slimming is OK; that heaven needs hell. Plus, it seems, the uglier the trainer the more on-trend it is, so you might as well commit. As most therapists would say, what is a “normal” shoe anyway?

Loewe’s curved toe trainers

Loewe curved toe trainers.
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 Loewe curved toe trainers.

Ugliness rating 10/10

Style rating 7/10

Heron Preston Ugg

Heston Preston x Ugg.
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 Heston Preston x Ugg.

Ugliness rating 3/10

Style rating 3/10

Chloé’s new Sonnie sneaker

Chloé Sonnie sneaker.
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 Chloé Sonnie sneaker.

Ugliness rating 8/10

Style rating 7/10

Dr Marten Cleater

Dr Martens sandal.
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 Dr Martens sandal.

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