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A Chat With the Creators of the ‘Dad Shoes’ Twitter Page

Run by four dads from Northeast United States, the Dad Shoes Twitter page celebrates the worldwide phenomena that is Dad Shoes. We chat with one of the quartet about their endeavours – including the burning question: what makes a shoe a Dad Shoe?

The Dad Website: First up, what prompted you to launch the page?

Dad Shoes: We first started noticing the dad-shoe phenomenon during holiday gatherings. During Christmas of 2018, a photo was captured of two crisp sets of Dad Shoes on a couch sitting in perfect unison, and thus the idea for Dad Shoes was born. Dads are the unsung heroes of the family… and their choice of footwear is the unsung hero of their wardrobe.

TDW: What makes a Dad Shoe?

DS: Certain qualities are complete non-negotiables. First things first, in order to even come under consideration as a Dad Shoe, they have to be white. No self-respecting dad would be caught dead in a sneaker that isn’t a majestic white.

Next thing we look for is the characteristic Air Monarch design or the telling “N” of a New Balance 624 Cross-Trainer. Other brands have thrown their hats into the dad-shoes ring – such as Reebok with the Ridgerider walking shoe and Fila’s Memory Sportland sneaker – but New Balance and Nike have really staked out a large portion of the market.

After identifying the shoe, the next thing is identifying the wearer of said shoe. Middle-aged, suburban dads are the biggest purveyor of Dad Shoes, but grandparents and mums are not immune to the siren’s song of the comfort and practicality that is only found in a Dad Shoe.

The last thing we look for – a bonus, if you will – is the tell-tale signs of Dad Shoes that have lived well. Grass stains from years of cutting the lawn, scuffs and streaks are all features of the Dad Shoe.

TDW: If you had to nominate a dad-shoe celebrity or style icon, who springs to mind?

DS: The beauty of Dad Shoes is that there is no “trend-setter” or “influencer” that started the movement. The dad-shoes movement happened organically as millions of middle-aged dads starting wearing them for their comfort and practicality.

That said, we would like to recognise two dad-shoe icons. Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors lent a level of legitimacy to our movement when he signed with New Balance and they released his signature sneaker – which was, clearly, a Dad Shoe. Hundreds of thousands of dads in recreation centres around the country are wearing the Kawhis with pride… all while complaining about the lack of passing and defence in the modern game.

And Pete Carroll, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, is considered the patron saint of Dad Shoes. Nike makes custom Air Monarchs for Carroll, which he proudly wears on the sidelines during the season.

Dads are the unsung heroes of the family… and their choice of footwear is the unsung hero of their wardrobe.

TDW: Why do you think so many dads fall into stereotype when it comes to shoes?

DS: Dads are creatures of habit, so once they find something that works they will replicate the process. It’s the old “if it ain’t broke why fix it?” mentality. This is specifically true when it comes to shoes. Once Dad has settled on a shoe that works, he will wear that shoe for the rest of his life. There is no such thing as a dad who owns Air Monarchs and New Balance at the same time. As an example, we have a follower of the feed whose father wears white New Balance in the summer and black New Balance in the winter. He gets a new pair of white New Balance every Father’s Day, and a new pair of black New Balance every Christmas.

This is a process that evolves over time as dads start to favour comfort over style and do not want to be bothered looking for new shoes. This seems to happen to dads sometime after the age of 40.

TDW: What are the favoured pastimes of dads while wearing Dad Shoes? Can a dad operate a barbecue or do odd jobs around the house without wearing them?

DS: Yes. Should they? No. Would I recommend eating food that came off the grill if the grill master was wearing flip-flops, Crocs, or some other abomination? Not unless you want to get hit with a nasty case of salmonella.

Other favourite pastimes while wearing Dad Shoes are guarding the home thermostat, telling their children that “defence wins championships”, yelling at the refs during soccer games, drinking black coffee, and completing the Saturday morning “to-do list”.

TDW: Are there any default fashion accompaniments that go with Dad Shoes?

DS: Fantastic question. The most common thing we see, especially during spring and summer, is the cargo shorts-and-dad-shoes combo. It’s a marriage as old as the hills. Dads have also been known to wear jean shorts – a.k.a. jorts – with their Dad Shoes. Blue jeans, khaki pants and sweatpants are also standard dad-shoe staples.

Other accessories include white socks that rise to the lower calf, fishnet hats that dad got for free from a promotion somewhere, and perhaps the most common accompaniment is the phone belt clip.

TDW: Are there any Dad Shoes now in ‘Dad-Shoe Heaven’ that you remember fondly?

DS: I fundamentally disagree with the premise of the question – specifically that a true Dad Shoe never goes out of style or goes to “heaven.” White New Balances are like the eternal truths outlined in the Constitution… just as in style today as they will be 200 years from now. 

Having a favourite Dad Shoe or remembering one more fondly over another is equivalent saying you love one of your kids more than the other. Every Dad Shoe eventually goes to heaven, but the same exact shoe always replaces them. Every pair of Dad Shoes has a unique journey, so it would be unfair to rate one over another.

Every Dad Shoe eventually goes to heaven, but the same exact shoe always replaces them…

TDW: Have you had any feedback from dad-friends about the page?

DS: Feedback about the page has been positive.  Many followers of the feed have communicated to us that the page reminds them of their dad or someone else in their family. Older dads who wear Dad Shoes find it funny, and it gives younger dads a glimpse into their future. Overall the response has been great.

TDW: Anything else you want to mention?

DS: Yes, we just wanted to provide a top 10 list of places people are most likely to spot Dad Shoes:

  1. Home improvement stores
  2. Outdoor equipment shops
  3. Airports
  4. Kids’ sporting events
  5. Supermarkets
  6. Cafes
  7. Shopping centres (especially early in the morning)
  8. Kohl’s
  9. Department stores
  10. State fairs


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