The 13 Best “Dad Shoes” To Unlock Your Big Dad Energy (2024)
— Updated on 28 December 2023

The 13 Best “Dad Shoes” To Unlock Your Big Dad Energy (2024)

— Updated on 28 December 2023
Randy Lai
WORDS BY
Randy Lai

Certain millennial cinemagoers will no doubt remember Crazy Stupid Love — the 2011 US romcom, noted for its charming ensemble cast laden with now-constellation-sized-megastars including Steve Carrell and Ryan Gosling.

The film’s second act involves a famed exchange between the two aforementioned lead actors: with Gosling’s character berating Carrell for his perceived lack of machismo, all because of the latter’s decision to wear supportive (and admittedly plain) “New Balance sneakers” — the posterchildren in a category of athletic footwear we now broadly refer to as “dad shoes.”

RELATED: New Balance’s 990 Remains One Of The Finest Sneakers Ever Created

Today, it seems like everybody wants a piece of Carrell’s frumpy, yet weirdly enjoyable podiatric rizz; and New Balance (a company once maligned for specialising in athletic footwear favoured by Silicon Valley weirdos) has a street value of about US$5 billion.

Suffice to say: in spite of everything your weirdly overdressed, tailoring-obsessed friend has said, the dad shoe trend isn’t going anywhere just yet. Especially when there are so many great examples of the style that bring together comfort, support, and surprising versatility all within a single on-foot package.

Here are 13 of our favourite iconic dad shoes to get you started: terrible puns not included.


The Best Dad Shoes You Can Buy In Australia In 2024


BH Approved : Our Favourite ‘Dad Shoe’ Style Sneaker (Overall) That You Can Buy In Australia In 2024

dad shoes

New Balance ‘MADE in USA’ 990v5

Excellent

97/100

SCORE

PROS

  • All-day comfort
  • Ingenious use of technology
  • Versatile colourway

CONS

  • Price
  • Breathability
$280 – newbalance.com.au

Arguably the New Balance dad shoes which popularised the category globally, the 990 series is one we’re always happy to co-sign here at Boss Hunting — given the fact that multiple of the team’s members have and continue to wear them.

Billed legendarily as the sneaker “worn by supermodels in London and dads in Ohio”, the 990 has gone through six iterations since 1978 (not even counting all the cool limited editions New Balance has put out over the years).

Offering a near-perfect combination of performance-boosting technology and manufacturing processes which contain a US manufacturing “domestic value” of at least 70%; the 990 is as close as you can come to a handmade dress shoe in the era of athleisure.

In particular, the ‘v5’ generation in castlerock grey is a tremendously easy thing to wear: justifying its punchy 3-figure price tag with styling cues that work great alongside the vast majority of casual-wear; and enough all-day support for you to wear them whilst on the go — between workouts, red eye flights, back-to-back meetings and everywhere between.

In our view: nothing less than an iconic shoe.


Gucci ‘Run’ Trainer

DETAILS

  • Blue suede
  • Bi-colour rubber sole
  • Low heel style
  • Italian-made
$1,610 – gucci.com

Designer dad shoes that are playing in the same octave as Balenciaga’s Triple S sneaker, the Gucci ‘Run’ consists of a chunky sole, premium leather upper and the kind of brash, in-your-face logography that is par for the course in the world of luxury fashion.

The padded collar is made with plenty of reinforcement, so your ankles feel supported all-day-long.


K Swiss Hypercourt Express 2

dad shoes

DETAILS

  • Synthetic mesh upper
  • Aosta 7.0 rubberised outsole
  • Mid-top style
  • Includes orthopedic liner
$239.95 – kswiss.com.au

Among the dadliest of dad sneakers on this list, the K Swiss Hypercourt has the look and feel of early 90s sci-fi prop design — thanks to its many hard, injection moulded surfaces and removable technical elements like the internet Ortholite liner.

Blends the on-court traction of something like a Stan Smith sneaker with the lightness and power return of a bona fide running shoe.


New Balance 530

DETAILS

  • Leather upper
  • ABZORB mid-sole technology
  • Retro mid-top style
  • Available in 3 colourways
$170 – newbalance.com.au

More retro-futuristic than the other New Balance silhouettes in our list of the ultimate dad shoes, the 530 is characterised by a high in-step and beveled waist that have made these a favourite of numerous fashion sects, ranging from gorp enthusiasts to lovers of techwear.

In a pinch, the ABZORB foam/rubber cushioning is effective enough for you to hit the squat rack in; though the 530’s sweet spot is definitely as an everyday walking shoe.


Adidas Strutter

dad shoes

DETAILS

  • Synthetic uppers
  • Made using partially recycled materials
  • Mid-sole style
  • Includes EVA sock liner
$189 – fruugoaustralia.com

In stark contrast with its name, the ‘Strutter’ runs headlong in the opposite direction of ostentation.

These Adidas dad shoes — envisioned to go head-to-head with Nike’s range of chunky shoes — is a lot like the latter’s Air Monarch. Branding is at a minimum; the upper is made from simple synthetic leather; and the chunky design’s biggest practical novelty is the addition of heel pulls (bound to chuff papa once his arthritis starts flaring up).


Nike Air Monarch IV

dad shoes

DETAILS

  • Leather/synthetic uppers
  • Mid-top style
  • Full-length ‘Air Sole’ unit
  • Available in 4 colourways
$110 – nike.com

Part of the best-selling Nike Air range of everyday sneaker designs, the ‘Air Monarch IV’ is a frequent sight on suburban dads everywhere — even if they’re still not as ubiquitous in mainstream crep culture as a silhouette like the Nike Air Force One.

Embodying a classic style that mixes together genuine and synthetic leathers in a very dynamic hi-top shape, the brief that Nike set up for itself here is “traction over varied surfaces” and “comfort in every stride”. Sold in a range of colours, we’re pretty partial to the metallic-silver-on-white.

A side of sparkles to go with your ‘Swoosh’.


HOKA One One M ‘Bondi 8’

DETAILS

  • ‘Engineered’ mesh upper
  • Low heel running style
  • Includes Ortholite hybrid sockliner
  • Pull tabs
$275 – endclothing.com

One of the marginally less chunky sneakers to find widespread appeal with middle aged men, HOKA’s M Bondi 8 utilises a foam midsole and “extended heel geometry” which lend the appearance of a shoe where 99% of the magic happens underfoot.

Beloved by spry dads and long-distance runners (same person) it is one of the most ergonomically designed footwear options out on the market.


New Balance 550

DETAILS

  • Leather uppers
  • Low-top style
  • Modern take on a 1980s classic
  • Available in 3 colourways
$200 – newbalance.com.au

One of the most stylish New Balance dad shoes to make it out of the company’s archive, the OG 550 made its debut in 1989 — initially as a capable and solidly built b-ball hi-top.

After much clamouring from fans, the model was officially resurrected into New Balance’s core lineup in 2021; with the new iteration offering much of the appeal of classic all-white court shoes, in addition to a couple of well-placed modernising design tweaks.


ASICS Gel-Kayano 30 Stretch-Knit Running Sneakers

DETAILS

  • Breathable knit uppers
  • Classic low heel runner style
  • Proprietary shock absorption
  • Available in 10 colourways
$280 – asics.com

A style of dad sneakers that is particularly popular among those who take performance super seriously, the ASICS Gel-Kayano utilises not one, but 5 trademarked systems of modern technology to keep your feet comfy whilst you charge toward the 42-km finish line.

All things being equal, the fluorescent gradient-style colourways look pretty good too — even when you’re only wearing these out to the local coffee-and-sandwich purveyor.

These are among the best dad shoes on the market if you enjoy running in a range of environments with different terrain and variable real-time weather conditions.


ON Running ‘Cloud 5’ Mesh Sneakers

dad shoes

DETAILS

  • Rubber/mesh uppers
  • Mid-top running style
  • Manufactured using 44% recycled content
  • ‘Cloud’ cushioning moulds to your feet
$242 – mrporter.com

Occasionally an easy target for the dad shoes meme brigade, ON Running’s ‘Cloud 5’ nevertheless remains a compelling choice of ultra lightweight runner; perfect for dads who want you to know all about their Roger Federer fandom in the most unsubtle of ways.

Within the Cloud 5 architecture, dad shoe details abound: the uppers are made with an adaptive mesh material, the sole is so ugly that it achieves a kind of comic attractiveness, and — just in case you were wondering — the ‘Swiss engineering’ branding is a reminder that your feet are indeed in very good hands.


Saucony Shadow 6000

dad shoes

DETAILS

  • Suede/mesh uppers
  • City-inspired silhouette
  • EVA midsole
  • Rubber outsole
$195 – endclothing.com

Another silhouette geared toward conquering urban terrain at a leisurely pace, the Shadow 6000 seems to me a lot like the starter garb for the protagonist in a nondescript Korean drama. (You know: the ones it takes Netflix about as long to make, as it does for you to finish binging them.)

No doubt this liquorice allsort-esque colourway will go with a bunch of casual items in your wardrobe: even if it’s noticeably more difficult to get baby vomit off of it than your endless supplies of tees or denim.


Reebok Club C 1985 ‘TV’ Sneakers

DETAILS

  • Leather uppers
  • Classic low-top style
  • EVA midsole
  • Perforated toe box

$150 – incu.com

Among the best dad shoes to consider if what you’re looking for is a classic low-slung, tennis-inspired silhouette; the Club C sneaker is based on an “80s court classic”: all lovely tan and cream surfaces, peppered with just a hint of Reebok’s signature ‘glen’ green livery.


FILA Disruptor II

DETAILS

  • Synthetic uppers
  • Lightweight EVA midsole
  • Uniquely detailed eyelets
  • Moulded outsole
$120 – fila.com.au

Despite the name that sounds like a direct-to-DVD sequel (starring Jean-Claude Van Damme) FILA’s Disruptor II is an extremely capable dad shoe: designed with a number of distinctive features like the reinforced side wall and raised chunky soles.

For an even more dad-ly outfit, consider wearing these with ribbed, mid-length athletic socks.


Randy Lai
WORDS by
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].