These Days, Luxury Sneakers Are So Full of Themselves (Literally)

There’s no longer anything novel about expensive chunky sneakers, right? Surely we’ve become so inured to XXXL luxury footwear that big meaty shoes no longer hit the same.

Or do they? A recent crop of high-end shoes piqued my interest, not because they all looked so distinct but because they all kinda resembled tennis sneakers inflated with helium.

This is a different kind of thickness, one that’s more implosive than explosive. Some of them look like bigger shoes that collapsed in on themselves, others look merely overstuffed.

The first shoe that caught my eye was Gucci’s new extra-beefy Screener sneaker, unveiled without fanfare in Summer 2023 and quietly sold alongside the original model.

If you aren’t familiar with Gucci’s original Screener shoe, dare to compare old against new:

The new Gucci Screener sports appears to be an identical upper with approximately double the sole (same great taste!), wearing thick laces that only amplify its inflated appearance.

Around the same time that the new Gucci Screener began appearing at stores, an early look at Marni’s Bigfoot 2.0 sneaker surfaced online.

This is a sequel to a shoe that once looked more like a well-fed runner — Marni’s new Bigfoot appears to be a particularly squat Samba blown up with a bike pump.

One commenter sagely dubbed them the low-top counterpart to MSCHF’s Big Red Boot.

But Marni’s Bigfoot 2.0 also recalls Bottega Veneta’s new-ish and aptly-named Pillow sneaker, a surprisingly lightweight shoe with an imposingly heavyweight silhouette.

The dots have been connected but what is revealed?

Well, nothing really — this isn’t a case of designers copying each other’s homework, just a coincidental uptick in demand for shoes that look like they’ve eaten too much.

You could trace countless throughlines to these pudgy sneakers, from the recent cartoonification of fashion to rising demand for Rick Owens’ inimitably huge sneakers to the immense influence that skate sneakers have long had on the luxury footwear market.

Perhaps we’re at post-post-post Triple S or these new luxury shoes are just slightly more urbane evolutions of Lanvin’s Curb sneaker.

But I think the most tantalizing thread to tug on is the one that trailed off of Prada’s puffified loafers.

You can more easily see this connection: Prada’s thick nappa leather shoes and handbags are touchably squishy and the new luxury sneakers coming from the likes of Marni and Gucci tap into similarly tangible softness.

Given that a predilection for curves is hardwired into the human brain, I get why so many different designers may be inclined to create inflated accessories.

Ain’t no conspiracy behind these gluttonous luxury shoes, just a logical desire to sell sneakers by appealing to our instinctual interest in squishy stuff.

Could be worse — I’ll take spongy sneakers over scrotum jackets any day of the week.

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