In Partnership With MR PORTER
Words by Ms Molly Isabella Smith
Sneakers are fast becoming one of the most crucial components in the average man’s wardrobe. Which we can all agree is a good thing. But the trouble with an increase in both demand and supply for this hype-driven field is that one can find oneself surrounded by an embarrassment of riches – barely a day passes without a new drop on MR PORTER, for example – which makes it increasingly difficult to settle on a style that’s right for you. To that end, and to help make your decision just a bit easier, we’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of the key sneakers to invest in for the new season. So, step to it.
Let’s start with the basics, shall we? If you’re anything like, well, anyone, you’ve likely nurtured a long-standing relationship with your humble Converse since your teenage years. In essence, the original Chuck Taylor All Stars have barely changed in the century following their debut on basketball courts in 1917. Since Nike took the helm, though, a few innovative tweaks – including Lunarlon foam support and OrthoLite insoles – have upped the comfort factor, making them an even more practical and hard-wearing pick for everyday use. If you’re looking for something a little less than casual, though, perhaps look to Common Projects. The New York-based, Italian-made brand, founded by Messrs Flavio Girolami and Peter Poopat in 2004, can be credited with catalysing the sneaker renaissance with its Achilles low-tops. The no-fuss, no-frills silhouette catapulted to iconic status swiftly after their introduction in 2007 and have remained an essential in any well-considered wardrobe since.
There’s a link between the meteoric rise of streetwear and our newfound appreciation for sneakers, of course. And, after decades of dominance for the low-top, the high-top is staging a comeback. Who among us isn’t rejoicing that they can start wearing proper socks again, rather than those “invisible” ones? “But I’ve been wearing my Converse high-tops for decades,” you might cry. Yes, but this new crop takes its inspiration from another, entirely divergent, silhouette. Namely, Nike’s Air Jordan 1 – a model Mr Virgil Abloh once equated with the “Mona Lisa”. No surprises, then, when the Duchampian designer used the b-ball silhouette as the starting point for Off-White’s cult 3.0 Off-Court pairs. They’re equipped with all of Mr Abloh’s instantly recognisable signatures – zip ties, neon accents and, it goes without saying, a high “quotation mark” quotient.
The Retro Classics
Do you like camp-collar shirts? Surround yourself with mid-century-inspired furnishings? Fan of rose-tinted lenses? Then a pair of Masion Margiela’s Replica sneakers will feed your nostalgia for all things sepia-tinged. Retro sneakers have enjoyed an unprecedented resurgence recently (how many Stan Smiths are currently taking up space in your rotation? Be honest), but this deconstructionist brand got there first. Initially released in 1999, the shoe is based on the vintage military-approved German Army Trainer (or “GAT”) by adidas and Puma from the 1970s. These days, you can take your pick of colours and fabric combinations – including some rather jazzy neon-tipped and paint-splattered pairs – but you can’t go wrong with the OG white-and-grey leather and suede.
The Super Sneaker
The assumption is that anyone wearing sneakers to work is a Buddha bowl-eating, WeWork-ing multihyphenate: “Anything goes these days,” they say. But, really, it doesn’t have to be that. Especially if your profession or office dress code tends towards the traditional (read: anywhere that dictates a suit and/or tie). In which case, it bears repeating, it’s wise to be cautious of anything too casual (your go-to Converse, for example, won’t cut it) and steer yourself towards ultra-refined labels that have managed to instil their sneakers with sleekness. Tom Ford and Brunello Cucinelli are two such designers who’ve got this sort of thing down to a fine art.
The Technical Marvel
Ms Miuccia Prada is blessed with a sartorial foresight others can only dream of; when we were all basking in the cooler-than-thou aura of 1990s minimalism, the Italian brand was pioneering the technical trend. Now we’ve cycled back, Ms Prada has returned to her old tricks. These Cloudbust (the clue is in the name) sneakers were one of the defining styles last year and their reign is set to continue well into 2019. The reason they’re on everyone’s radar? We’d wager it’s the careful balance of sporty and sleek design cues; streamlined mesh uppers meet voluminous soles to create a shape that’s unlike anything else out there at the moment. Oh, and the Velcro fastenings. Everybody loves Velcro.