Kanye West has never been shy to dete from the norm when it comes to his sneaker designs. Ever since his days with Nike, Kanye has been redefining what it means to create new silhouettes. With the Nike Air Yeezy 1 and 2, Kanye was able to create something new yet awfully familiar. Of course, both of these silhouettes came with immediate success which Ye was able to carry over to his partnership with Adidas. Back in 2015, Kanye made his Adidas debut with the Yeezy Boost 750 which became an instant hit amongst OG sneakerheads and hypebeasts alike. From there, Kanye would go on to give his take on the Roshe Run with the Yeezy Boost 350 V1. A few months later, the V2 came out in what would become a dominant three-year run that is still ongoing.
In 2017, West was beginning to drop numerous colorways of the 350 V2 and fans were excited to see what his next silhouette would be. West ended up shocking fans by dropping a brand new model on his website for pre-order. This shoe just so happened to be the Adidas Yeezy Boost 700 “Wave Runner.” At first, fans were incredibly confused. As someone who spends a lot of time on sneakerhead Facebook groups, I know how polarizing this sneaker was to people. Various people claimed it looked like something their dad would wear to mow the lawn with. Others felt as though the design was akin to a bargain bin Walmart shoe. In hindsight, these reactions were quite overblown but at the time, they seemed pretty fair. The chunky midsole and wavy tooling on the upper were unlike anything we had ever seen before. Not to mention, the grey upper, teal details, and orange midsole highlights were seen as a little bit too ambitious. If you were to ask someone in August of 2017 what they thought about these, they would tell you they’re awful. Ask anyone now and they would say this might be the best Yeezy of all-time.
Despite the initial criticism, the pre-sale sold out instantly and pairs were reselling for upwards of $1000 USD. Over the past few years, the price on the “Wave Runner” has come down significantly thanks to numerous restocks. The reason for these restocks is quite simple: people still go nuts for these. Not to mention, the shoe is responsible for ushering in the “dad shoe” trend. For those who don’t know, dad shoes are any type of sneaker that is chunky and bulky. It’s the type of shoe you would see your dad wear to the grocery store or even a marginally fancy restaurant. Perhaps the most infamous dad shoe is the Nike Air Monarch. Back in 2015, the Monarch was for dads and dads only. But once the Yeezy 700 “Wave Runner” came around, it became acceptable for people under the age of 40 to wear massive shoes. In fact, it led to the birth of various other chunky runners that are now considered staples of late 2010s sneaker culture.
2017 and 2018 were filled to the brim with various brands trying to capitalize on the chunky aesthetic. High fashion brands were especially guilty of this, particularly Balenciaga who rolled through with the Triple S. Much like the Yeezy 700, the Triple S has multi-material tooling on the upper as well as a bulky midsole. Sneakerheads still roll their eyes whenever they see these in the streets but there is no denying they are a product of the trend Kanye started.
But how did Kanye’s shoe start this trend to begin with? Well, it’s simple. When Kanye does something, other brands pay attention. No sneaker brand has been able to drum up as much hype over the last few years as Yeezy. When Kanye first went to Adidas, his shoes were limited and hard to come by. Resale prices were massive which forced sneakerheads to look elsewhere. Other brands paid attention to the hype around the 750 and 350 and tried to give their own takes on that design. When the 700 came around, the same thing happened. The “Wave Runner” was so limited that all of a sudden, there was a demand for chunky shoes. Eventually, awkward, dad-like shoes were seen almost everywhere. Outside of the sneakerhead community, general consumers began to take notice as these funny-looking runners increasingly started dominating store shelves.
Some of the other big silhouettes that were spawned from this movement were the Puma Thunder Spectra, Gucci Appollo, Adidas Ozweego (2019), Adidas Yung-1, and even the Fila Disruptor, to name a few. Be honest? How many women have you seen wearing the all-white Fila Disruptor over the years? It’s a shoe that is almost as common as breathing. Even the Nike Monarch has seen a resurgence with high schoolers wearing the shoe as a means to fit in with the times. Now, you don’t even need to have a kid to look like a dad. All you need is some chunky runners and you’re good to go.
All of the aforementioned silhouettes have seen a ton of success over the last few years. Because of this, sneaker brands continue to come through with chunkier shoes that tend to push the boundaries of what the general public considers to be acceptable footwear. Kanye himself has been trying to push the limits as well. His Yeezy 700 line continues to grow with the V2 being his chunkiest and most massive shoe yet. Thanks to the 700 V3, West is now trying to make futuristic dad shoes and as you can imagine, sneakerheads are eating it up.
It remains to be seen where this trend will go in the future. For now, it seems like chunky runners are here to stay. Meanwhile, the Yeezy 700 “Wave Runner” remains one of the best sneakers in Kanye’s Yeezy library. With a new decade upon us, we are certainly in for an interesting era. With this in mind, what kinds of shoes are you hoping for during the 2020s?