Thanks to the aftershocks from the great sneakerhead explosion of the early 00s, sneakers today are marketed and collected with the same attention to detail as fine wines and European sports cars. What this means for you, dear reader, is that it’s never been easier to find the perfect kicks for your active, swagtastic lifestyle. And since many of you are already very familiar with iconic models like the Adidas Stan Smith and the Nike Dunk, we thought it would be fun to celebrate some of the season’s less obvious (but no less awesome) kicks.
This fall, it’s all about upping your footwear game by letting the subtle nuances and gourmet materials of your sneakers do the talking. Like everything we recommend, it’s all about copping new pieces that will harmonize with stuff you already own. With some creative styling, you could rock any of these kicks with everything from a rugged, graphic-heavy sweatshirt to military-inspired olive chinos and a natty blazer. Here are five snazzy sneakers that are sure to be great investments.
Practical, comfortable sneakers aren’t just for dads. For the ultimate in super-wearable, retro-inspired footwear, there’s no better model than Nike’s Air Max 1997. Inspired by Japan’s iconic Bullet Train, AM97s have been a longtime favorite of sneakerheads and design geeks alike, thanks to their clean lines and chrome-inspired color palette. Still handsome 20 years after their original release, today’s AM97 reboots, like this slick jacquard-trimmed model, are the definition of cozy chic.
BET ON BLACK
Rocking a pair of monochrome sneakers is a great way to add some understated polish to your sartorial rotation. When styled with some crisp chinos and a well-made Oxford, these kicks can read like a dress shoe thanks to their clean lines and elegant, minimal presentation. We highly recommend copping a pair of all black monochromes for travel, as they will play nice with everything from fitted sweats (you know, for the plane) to a breezy, casual suit.
GET YOUR GUM
Tired of over-designed, ultra-futuristic kicks? Take things back to basics by sporting a pair of gum-soled sneakers. Gum soles represent the oldest known style of sneaker technology, as they were first used to toughen up leather tennis shoes more than 100 years ago. More recently, Nike and J. Crew set the sneaker world on fire with their highly sought-after gum-soled Nike Killshot 2 reissues, which can still be found on eBay for relatively cheap. And for those who don’t care to play the bidding game, these buttery gum-soled Puma suedes are smooth as can be.
MAKE A QUIET STATEMENT
Wild-style, colorful sneakers will always be a thing, but that doesn’t mean that yours need to scream out for attention. The key to pulling off a more colorful kick is to find a style that features a melange of wearable, down-to-earth tones, like these understatedly swaggy New Balance “Desert Heat” 998s. A color-blocked sneaker might seem like a big statement at the office, but when paired with some dark blue jeans and a smart blue blazer, the 998’s notes of navy, steel grey and butterscotch can provide some cool accents to any work look.
For a slick look that will never go out of style, invest in the best all-white leather sneakers you can afford and get them professionally cleaned at the end of every season. Thanks to the current all-white sneaker trend, which shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, there are now more options than ever. We love this Italian-made “Royale” model from Brooklyn-based upstarts Greats, which features a full-grain leather body and buttery Vachetta calfskin lining. The best part? They look fresh with anything.