If one common trend could define the decade it would be streetwear as sportswear. The growing atleisure market speaks to our constant on the go culture and increasing awareness in our health. And if one thing could define the atleisure market it would be sneakers. Check our gallery as we round up our top picks for the best sneakers on the market today.
Today, more than ever sneakers are acceptable to wear day and night. And with some costing well over $1000 you would want to hope so, too.
Interestingly, Kanye West’s Yeezy show line (most of which are sneakers) is expected to top $1.5 billion in 2019 and is growing. Its clear sneakers are here to stay. His Yeezy shoe line, which he launched with Nike in 2009 and then brought to Adidas in 2013, has the 34-year-old Jordan empire in its sights, in terms of both cultural clout and commercial prowess. The Jordan line does approximately $3 billion in annual sales.
High-end, designer sneakers now constitute a crucial part of the modern wardrobe. People in offices routinely pad around in upscale rubber-soled shoes.
Luxury sneakers dominate footwear sales for e-commerce site NetaPorter. Yet as recently as five or six years ago, the words – designer sneakers – conjured an off-putting image for many of us- of over-designed, wickedly expensive footwear, littered with logos in a way that evoked a duty-free shop. The sort of thing a respectable person wouldn’t be caught dead in.
How did we get from there to here? A number of factors. First, dress codes have become increasingly relaxed over the past decade—remember when sneakers weren’t allowed in night clubs? Second, as designer-sneaker sales have ticked up and the shoes’ 24/7 relevance has somewhat justified the price, more designers and brands have begun paying attention to the market.
Though luxury brands have been making sneakers since the advent of Gucci’s tennis shoes in 1984, French label Lanvin legitimized the category with its slim-soled tennis-style sneaker with a patent leather toecap, introduced in 2006. This moved the needle in the luxury world with everyone embracing it because it was wearable. It didn’t look like you were wearing running sneakers with your suit or smart trousers. That led to a lot of other people entering the arena.
That includes brands you’d assume would sniff at the very idea of sneakers. Tom Ford—now makes several styles of sneakers, ranging from $790 to $1,090, Italian maker of the ne plus ultra in cashmere Loro Piana, has low-key velvety suede running shoes for $925. Plus names like Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Prada and Stella McCartney. Read more, ‘To Define Your Taste in Interior Design, Look Inside Your Wardrobe.’
Now there’s a sneaker for every man and women —no matter his aesthetic. You don’t need to be wearing a pair of drop-crotch sweatpants to be wearing [designer] sneakers. You can wear them with a great dress or pants and look like a million bucks.
Some men, more controversially, even pair them with a tuxedo. Some people no longer wear dress shoes at all, with men donning sneakers to this year’s Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, arguably the Oscar’s of the fashion world . When in formal clothes, wearing sneakers is a way of dressing it down a little.
Regarding prices, some argue that it’s ridiculous to pay, say, $920, for Saint Laurent’s SL/01 Court Classic sneakers, which look a fair amount like Adidas’s classic Stan Smiths that cost around $130. But most designer sneakers are made with Italian leather on par with that used for dress shoes, hide that tends to look more refined and last longer than the leather of mass-market versions. And while they might take cues from more affordable styles by Nike or Adidas, their upgraded air gives them entree where cheaper sneakers wouldn’t dare tread.
If there’s a single factor cementing the sneaker trend in place? No matter what happens with fashion, when you wear sneakers and get that level of comfort and style, it’s very hard to get back into ‘normal’ shoes.
For most of the last century—ever since red-rubber-soled white bucks stepped onto the tennis courts of country clubs—the white shoe has been synonymous with summer. This season, think more Adidas, less Alden, with all-white sneakers—a shoe you can wear with everything from weekday suits to weekend shorts and rolled-up chinos.
The quest for the right white sneaker is not the simplest task, particularly now when the market is saturated.
The trick with white sneakers is, of course, keeping them white. An online search for how to do so yields everything from homespun advice (scrubbing with baby powder or baking soda and water) to recommendations of specific products like Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser and Dow Scrubbing Bubbles.
If all else fails, you can always look at your white sneakers the way Common Projects co-founder, Prathan Poopat, does: “I don’t really clean mine,” he said. “I think of them like jeans. They just get more worn in and better with time.”
It is clear the ascension of the sneaker to relative holiness is here to stay.