When it comes to footwear, no shoe is as reliable or as versatile as the sneaker. Below, we’ve rounded up the best sneaker brands based on authenticity, status, and style. Instead of clout chasing and throwing money at overpriced resale platforms, stick to the classics or invest in one of the following sartorial upgrades from some of the best men’s fashion brands.
The brand behind the iconic three stripes started as a sportswear company that has since evolved into a lifestyle empire. Adidas first changed the game with its simplistic Stan Smith styles featuring an all-white leather upper and bright heel tab. By tapping catalysts like Kanye West to head the Yeezy collection, Adidas has safely secured its place in culture. Most recently, Adidas onboarded Fear of God’s Jerry Lorenzo as the head of its basketball division, as well as the newly formed Fear of God Athletics.
Balenciaga began as a luxury fashion house based in Paris over one hundred years ago. Today, creative director Demna Gvsalia has turned the brand’s sneakers into instantly recognizable footwear. From the chunky, trend-leading Triple S’ to the sleeker, sock-inspired Speed Its, a pair of Balenciagas are the ultimate investment sneakers.
While Common Projects is one of the youngest brands on this list, its reputation stands as the quintessential quality minimalist trainer. The brand offers both high and low tops in classic lace-up silhouettes, produced in neutral colorways like black, white, grey, tan and blue. You’ll be able to spot Common Project’s signature gold leaf numbering out the back outsole of each pair.
When it comes to American lifestyle shoes, it doesn’t get more classic than Converse. The brand’s iconic canvas high or low tops featuring a signature star include Classic Chuck Taylor All-Star and Jack Purcell styles. The past few years Converse has maintained its cult status thanks to collaborations with Tyler, the Creator’s Golf Le Fleur, JW Anderson and Comme des Garcons.
Gucci was founded as a luxury fashion house in Florence, Italy nearly one hundred years ago. In 2015, Alessandro Michele took over as creative director and repositioned Gucci as a maximalist global brand. In its collections you can find low-tops emblazoned with allover logo-jacquard print, signature watersnake appliques, and/or proprietary red and green stripes. Gucci is one of the best-selling luxury brands for sneakers and its shoe sector is the company’s second-highest source of revenue worldwide.
New Balance was founded as a sports footwear brand in 1906 in Boston. Ever since, its athletic shoes have been sported by athletes around the world. New Balance’s iconic 990 model that features an orthopedic-reminiscent gel cushion and melange of grays has recently gained cult status as the “ultimate dad shoe.” The brand has maintained its cool factor throughout the years, and most recently with thanks to collaborations with Jaden Smith and cult New York brand Aime Leon Dore.
Shoe dog Phil Knight founded sportswear brand Nike in Portland, Oregon in 1964. Knight aptly named the company after the Greek goddess of victory and has taken the world by storm ever since. From collaborations with Michael Jordan, Virgil Abloh, Travis Scott, and more, Nike takes the top sneaker spot for both sport and style. Chances are you already have a few pairs in your closet, but should you be on the market we suggest the monochrome classic Air Force 1, the chunkier Air Max 90, a pair of old school Blazers, vintage-esque Cortez, or the unmatched Air Jordan 1.
Reebok’s classic shoes are straight out of the 80s and 90s, and instantly give off a vintage feel. The brand’s retro classic leather lows in white or black are not only super comfortable but also go with literally everything. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the brand is only looking backward: just last year Reebok tapped Pyer Moss’ Kerby Jean-Raymond as Vice President of Creative Direction.
Vans started as a skateboarding brand out of Anaheim, California in 1966. In the past decade, chances are you couldn’t go anywhere without spotting a pair of their Old Skools: a sleek canvas low or high top with rubber waffle outsoles and a signature waved side stripe. While a fantastic choice for any skateboarder, Vans have also proven their stature as a stylish sneaker for any occasion.
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