Lately the cutting edge of sneakers has started to look around. Not just soft, but volumetric, fat, plump. Let’s call it blobby. These are not shoes – they are slumbering.
The Pyer Moss Sculpt is king under the eyes. This sneaker actually made its debut on designer Kerby Jean-Raymond’s show in October 2019 at the Brooklyn Kings Theater, but it wasn’t until last November in black and yellow and was quickly sold out. Shooze move slowly: A new color, yellow and white, falls this Friday. (Though Jean-Raymond has dual roles as Reebok’s creative director, these sneakers were launched under the Pyer Moss banner alone and cost $ 595 accordingly.) When I first saw them last fall, you thought I was one Blobbigier version of Raf Simons Ozweego, who seemed to snap an Adidas sneaker into a blocky, rubbery or metallic protective base. A year later, when they showed up in Jean-Raymond’s banner year, they looked more like a prescient explanation for the dominance of American fashion.
The sculpt sneaker by Pyer Moss
The sculpt sneaker by Pyer Moss
Jean-Raymond’s Blobs 2019 finally have company. Leaked pictures of a new model of the Yeezy Boost with ridiculous proportions appeared online earlier this week, suggesting Kanye West will not be outwitted. It seems to fuse the foam-injected smoothness of the already crocodile-like Foamrunner with an oversized sole that looks like a pair of old Boosts submerged in sinking water. A year ago, West was going in a different direction, with sneakers that looked appealingly half-finished – the prototype as a finished product. Now his shoes seem to be the most finished product of all. (Whether we will ever see them is another matter.)
The new Yeezy Boosts
Why all these blobs and why now? Recent sneaker history has some clues. In 2017, Balenciaga launched its blocky, dorky Triple S sneaker, and with it a range of ugly sneakers. In a funhouse reflecting the global political situation, sneakers kept getting uglier and designers drew obscure references from performance dance shoes and anti-fashion icons of the 80s and 90s in Louis Vuitton (The Archlight), Versace (The Chain Reaction) ) and in a very dark time it is best to leave the footnotes to the story, Fila (the troublemaker). Once you’ve grown tall and ugly, all you can do is be slim and tiny or taller and stranger.
The Ozweego sneaker by Adidas and Raf Simons
The real origin of the blob could be with Martine Rose, who spent the early years of Demna Gvasalia’s tenure in Balenciaga improving men’s clothing. But Rose had an ugly statement to make: In 2017, Rose took the stupidest shoe of them all, the Nike Air Monarch, and leaked its sole outward, creating a wobbly silhouette that amazed and terrified the sneakerheads. Roses Air Monarch is the proverbial missing link: the bridge between the ugly or daddy shoe trends that seemed to be defining sneaker design for the past five years and this new blobby future.
The past decade in design has depended on things that felt two-dimensional and Instagram-ready, be it in terms of flatness (like Balenciaga’s other hit, the sock sneaker) or anger (the dad sneaker). It is now something powerful to create dimension and maintain a sense of space. If the dad shoe felt square and controlled, the blob felt impregnable, sloppy and impossible to contain. After years of sneaker designers venturing each other into uglier and uglier silhouettes and reaching for strange and pathetic references, sneakers may now have a terrible new spirit.