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The early 2000s might not feel like the distant past, but if you’re a clothing brand desperately grasping for new inspiration the era is more than fair game. Fashion’s self-referential nature means that, less than twenty years after the decade’s conclusion, the aughts are already proving to be a goldmine. Big, baggy jeans are piling up on mall shelves all over again, gleaming wraparound shades are going to be everywhere this summer, and the mesh-covered retro sneakers synonymous with Y2K style have never been hotter. That’s right: the exact same shoes you laced-up to jog along to the latest Lil Wayne mixtape are back and better than ever—and somehow, they don’t look remotely dated.
Dad-adjacent shoes have been catching fire for a while now, thanks to performance-oriented footwear juggernauts like New Balance and Asics (and crucial cosigns from capital-D Designer labels like Balenciaga), but the latest crop of Y2K-indebted retro sneakers are a touch sportier than their ’80s or ’90s counterparts. Aesthetically, there’s simply more going on—more mesh, more accents, more sole, more everything. Just like their gloriously dadly predecessors, though, these runners are meant to be worn anywhere but the track—instead, throw ’em on with a pair of ginormous chinos and a freaky cardigan or Bieber-esque jeans and a slouchy hoodie. (Pro tip: Wider-leg pants will help balance out your shoes’ hefty proportions.)
Still not convinced? All good: We rounded up 16 of the raddest, meshiest, retro-iest sneakers on the market right now, from re-issued icons that still look killer today to newly-released beauties inspired by the decade’s biggest hits.
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