The Rise Of The Hero Trainer

Beloved by men the world over, trainers are our equivalent of the stiletto heel to women. Whether in hi-top, classic or re-worked hybrid forms, almost every man will own at least one pair (or dozens in many cases).

The origins of the trainer stem from the development of new rubber processing techniques in the early 1900s, when small companies began producing batches of rubber-soled tennis shoes for athletic purposes. The trainer began to take on a more recognisable form in the 1920s and 1930s, when sports and athletic wear became de rigueur, with further design advances in the 1970s and 1980s leading to the modern sneaker silhouette we are all familiar with.

In recent years, trainer design has reached new levels of creative ingenuity; they are no longer merely a practical footwear choice for exercise, but have become an integral part of the modern man’s uniform. They have become a symbol of artistic expression – the trainers that you choose can reveal a lot about your personality.

In homage to the rise of the hero trainer, we bring you a pocket guide to the ten key trainer labels of the moment…

1. Lanvin

French fashion house Lanvin, founded by couturier Jeanne Lanvin in 1867, would seem a less than obvious label to develop an iconic trainer style, but it has certainly earned itself a place in the casual footwear annals.

Under the creative guidance of men’s design director Lucas Ossendrijver, the brand’s classic patent-toe cap trainers have, in just a few seasons, become one of the most popular shoe styles on offer in the designer trainer market:

  • Lanvin Suede And Patent-leather SneakersLanvin Suede And Patent-leather Sneakers
  • Lanvin Suede And Patent-leather SneakersLanvin Suede And Patent-leather Sneakers
  • Lanvin Suede And Patent-leather SneakersLanvin Suede And Patent-leather Sneakers
  • Lanvin Suede And Patent-leather SneakersLanvin Suede And Patent-leather Sneakers
  • Lanvin Suede And Patent-leather SneakersLanvin Suede And Patent-leather Sneakers
  • Lanvin Suede And Patent-leather SneakersLanvin Suede And Patent-leather Sneakers
2. Adidas Originals

Adidas Originals, the diffusion label of the cult German sportswear behemoth, specialises in reinventing classic retro styles from the brand’s extensive archive.

Crafting their designs from premium materials, Adidas takes the best features of their retro silhouettes and updates them to suit modern sensibilities.

Perfect for men with an active lifestyle or those who just want to make a sports-luxe statement, the burgundy ZX 500 trainers from the current collection are a superbly on trend style:

  • Adidas Originals tech Super – Size? ExclusiveAdidas Originals tech Super - Size? Exclusive
  • Adidas Originals zx 500 – Size? ExclusiveAdidas Originals zx 500 - Size? Exclusive
  • Adidas Originals milano – Size? ExclusiveAdidas Originals milano - Size? Exclusive
  • Adidas Originals dragon Leather – Exclusive -Adidas Originals dragon Leather - Exclusive -
  • Adidas Originals adi Up Low – Exclusive -Adidas Originals adi Up Low - Exclusive -
  • Adidas Originals plimcana Lo -Adidas Originals plimcana Lo -
  • Adidas Originals Gazelle Indoor TrainersAdidas Originals Gazelle Indoor Trainers
  • Adidas Originals Ransom Army Trail Mid TrainersAdidas Originals Ransom Army Trail Mid Trainers
  • Adidas Originals Zx 700 TrainersAdidas Originals Zx 700 Trainers
3. Maison Martin Margiela

Martin Margiela, one of the most fabled names in contemporary design and member of the acclaimed ‘Antwerp Six’, has always pushed the boundaries of traditional fashion design though the use of innovative treatments and craft techniques.

Although Margiela himself stepped down as creative director of his eponymous label in 2009, his spirit remains at the house, as season after season, the brand’s trainer designs demonstrate the perfect blend of casual sportif nonchalance and urban luxury.

SS13’s now extremely rare gold coated trainers combine the current penchant for metallic and sportswear seamlessly, whilst AW13’s galaxy-print sneakers epitomise the brand’s innovative design ethos:

  • Maison Martin Margiela Galaxy-print Leather SneakersMaison Martin Margiela Galaxy-print Leather Sneakers
  • Maison Martin Margiela Suede And Leather-panelled SneakersMaison Martin Margiela Suede And Leather-panelled Sneakers
  • Maison Martin Margiela Reflective Python Fabric TrainersMaison Martin Margiela Reflective Python Fabric Trainers
  • Maison Martin Margiela 22 Mens Colour Drops Replica SneakersMaison Martin Margiela 22 Mens Colour Drops Replica Sneakers
  • Maison Martin Margiela 22 Men’s Black Poly-coated High Top SneakersMaison Martin Margiela 22 Men’s Black Poly-coated High Top Sneakers
  • Maison Martin Margiela 22 Men’s Navy Blue Men’s Replica SneakersMaison Martin Margiela 22 Men’s Navy Blue Men’s Replica Sneakers
4. New Balance

A true game-changer of the modern trainer scene, the meteoric rise of New Balance has been something of a footwear phenomenon.

Hailing from Boston, USA, the label was founded in 1906 by British-born entrepreneur, William J. Riley. The brand continues to manufacture its coveted running shoes in its US and UK workshops, offering an array of technically designed trainers in colour-pop hues that are as functional as they are fashionable:

  • New Balance 574 70s – Size? ExclusiveNew Balance 574 70s - Size? Exclusive
  • New Balance 410New Balance 410
  • New Balance 577 SuedeNew Balance 577 Suede
  • New Balance Exclusive To Asos 574 Yacht Club TrainersNew Balance Exclusive To Asos 574 Yacht Club Trainers
  • New Balance Made In England 670 TrainersNew Balance Made In England 670 Trainers
  • New Balance 574 Minimus TrainersNew Balance 574 Minimus Trainers
  • New Balance M996rr Made In Usa SneakersNew Balance M996rr Made In Usa Sneakers
  • New Balance M576 Billy Edgard Flimby 30th Anniversary SneakersNew Balance M576 Billy Edgard Flimby 30th Anniversary Sneakers
  • New Balance M1500 SneakersNew Balance M1500 Sneakers
5. Saint Laurent

The Paris house of Saint Laurent recently entered a new era in its design history, with the re-branding of the label’s iconic name from YSL to Saint Laurent and the appointment of Hedi Slimane as creative director, who has brought a complete aesthetic overhaul to the business.

Another label for hi-top obsessives, the brand continues to produce design-led styles with a street-ready Parisian feel. A favourite pick from this season’s collection has to be the statement-making Sl01H studded leather hi-tops:

  • Saint Laurent Leather SneakersSaint Laurent Leather Sneakers
  • Saint Laurent Sl01h Studded Leather High Top SneakersSaint Laurent Sl01h Studded Leather High Top Sneakers
  • Saint Laurent Sl01 Studded Leather SneakersSaint Laurent Sl01 Studded Leather Sneakers
  • Saint Laurent Leather And Canvas TrainersSaint Laurent Leather And Canvas Trainers
  • Saint Laurent Leather High Top SneakersSaint Laurent Leather High Top Sneakers
  • Saint Laurent Leather High Top SneakersSaint Laurent Leather High Top Sneakers
6. Valentino

When Valentino’s SS13 hotly-hyped camouflage trainers (see title image above) first reached retailers this season, they caused a buying frenzy, the sort of which is only normally seen in the halls of Selfridges on the first day of sale. They were THE must-have trainers for spring/summer.

Designed by menswear creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, this dynamic design duo has ushered in a new age of sartorial excellence at the legendary Italian house.

If you missed the boat for the SS13 range, the good news is Valentino have revamped the design for autumn/winter with the new incarnations due to hit stores imminently. In winter-appropriate muted tones, these are destined to be the hit treads of AW13:

  • Valentino Leather-trimmed Suede And Mesh SneakersValentino Leather-trimmed Suede And Mesh Sneakers
  • Valentino Suede And Mesh SneakersValentino Suede And Mesh Sneakers
  • Valentino Leather-trimmed Suede And Mesh SneakersValentino Leather-trimmed Suede And Mesh Sneakers
  • Valentino Denim Leather And Suede Camo TrainersValentino Denim Leather And Suede Camo Trainers
  • Valentino Nylon Suede And Leather TrainersValentino Nylon Suede And Leather Trainers
  • Valentino Leather And Suede TrainersValentino Leather And Suede Trainers
  • Valentino Nylon Suede And Camo Leather TrainersValentino Nylon Suede And Camo Leather Trainers
  • Valentino Camouflage Studded TrainerValentino Camouflage Studded Trainer
  • Valentino Camouflage TrainerValentino Camouflage Trainer
7. Saucony

A close contender with the likes of Adidas and New Balance, U.S. label Saucony has been producing specialist athletic shoes since 1898. Based in Lexington, Massachusetts, the brand is now one of the foremost names for high-performance running shoes.

Not just a mere fashion statement, Saucony’s designs encompass specialist technologies that cater to the demands of modern day athletes. One of this season’s models that the ticks all the right boxes, for style and practicality, are the bold and bright yellow Jazz Pro trainers:

  • Saucony Orange Grid 9000 SneakersSaucony Orange Grid 9000 Sneakers
  • Saucony Tan Grid 9000 SneakersSaucony Tan Grid 9000 Sneakers
  • Saucony Mens Grey Master Control SneakersSaucony Mens Grey Master Control Sneakers
  • Saucony JAZZ Low Pro TrainerSaucony JAZZ Low Pro Trainer
  • Saucony JAZZ Low Pro TrainerSaucony JAZZ Low Pro Trainer
  • Saucony JAZZ ORIGINAL TrainerSAUCONY JAZZ ORIGINAL TRAINER
  • White Mountaineering X Saucony Courageous SneakerWhite Mountaineering X Saucony Courageous Sneaker
  • Saucony Grid 9000Saucony Grid 9000
  • Saucony Grid 9000 PremiumSaucony Grid 9000 Premium
8. Balenciaga

Balenciaga has achieved cult status amongst trainer aficionados, thanks to their ever-popular Arena hi-tops.

A signature style of the Paris-based label, Arenas is the trainer of choice for nonchalant urbanites. Coming in a variety of leather and textured fabric combinations, these sleek fail-safes are a more luxe take on the classic basketball shoe:

Balenciaga's Signature Arena Hi-Top TrainerBalenciaga’s Signature Arena Hi-Top Silhouette – As Seen On Everyone From Kanye West to Drake

Another favourite pick from the AW13 collection are the printed fabric and leather trainers, which are a masterful reinvention of retro style:

BALENCIAGA Sporty retro trainers - Available at MatchesFashionBALENCIAGA Sporty retro trainers – Available at MatchesFashion

BALENCIAGA PRINTED FABRIC AND LEATHER SNEAKERSBALENCIAGA PRINTED FABRIC AND LEATHER SNEAKERS – Available At Mr Porter

9. Raf Simons

The past few seasons have seen a wave of high-end designers collaborating with sportswear brands to produce a unique hybrid product.

For AW13, contemporary Belgian designer Raf Simons combined sartorial forces with Adidas to produce his colour-pop detailed tech trainers. Tipped to be the brand’s answer to Valentino’s camo trainers, these robust and eye-catching creations are set to be a hit with the smart set.

A graduate of industrial and furniture design, Simons is a self-trained menswear designer whose knowledge of sleek architectural form and contemporary design is inherent within his work:

  • Adidas Originals X Raf Simons Ozweego 1 SneakersAdidas Originals X Raf Simons Ozweego 1 Sneakers
  • Adidas Originals X Raf Simons Ozweego 1 SneakersAdidas Originals X Raf Simons Ozweego 1 Sneakers
  • Adidas Originals X Raf Simons Ozweego 2 SneakersAdidas Originals X Raf Simons Ozweego 2 Sneakers
  • Adidas Originals X Raf Simons Ozweego 2 SneakersAdidas Originals X Raf Simons Ozweego 2 Sneakers
  • Adidas Originals X Raf Simons Terrex SneakersAdidas Originals X Raf Simons Terrex Sneakers
  • Adidas Originals X Raf Simons Response 1 SneakersAdidas Originals X Raf Simons Response 1 Sneakers
  • Raf Simons // Blue And Green Metallic Velcro High-topsRaf Simons // Blue And Green Metallic Velcro High-tops
  • Raf Simons // Black Leather And Reflective Silver Low-topsRaf Simons // Black Leather And Reflective Silver Low-tops
  • Raf Simons // Black And White Checkered Metallic Strap High-topsRaf Simons // Black And White Checkered Metallic Strap High-tops
10. Converse

An article on top trainer styles couldn’t be written without the mention of the ever-popular Converse shoe. A ubiquitous feature of streets the world over, these iconic trainers are a casual footwear mainstay.

One of the oldest brands in trainer history, Converse began producing basketball trainers in 1917. Constructed from canvas and rubber, they are one of only a handful of shoe styles that actually improve with age, with some wearers deliberately scuffing theirs for a more lived-in look.

Versatile and functional, they’ll pair with almost anything, except perhaps a double-breasted Italian wool suit.

Over the coming months, keep your eye out for the highly sought-after Converse x John Varvatos AW13 collection as well as some new additions to the Converse skateboard range, including a new signature trainer from pro skater Nick Trapasso:

  • Converse Jack Purcell Canvas SneakersConverse Jack Purcell Canvas Sneakers
  • Converse Jack Purcell Leather SneakersConverse Jack Purcell Leather Sneakers
  • Converse Jack Purcell Pin-dot Chambray SneakersConverse Jack Purcell Pin-dot Chambray Sneakers
  • Converse All Star Ox Suede – Size? ExclusiveConverse All Star Ox Suede - Size? Exclusive
  • Converse auckland Racer – Size? ExclusiveConverse auckland Racer - Size? Exclusive
  • Converse X Stussy Sea StarConverse X Stussy Sea Star
  • Converse All Star Hi White Navy Red Nautical ExclusiveConverse All Star Hi White Navy Red Nautical Exclusive
  • Converse All Star Hi Snow Leopard Faux Fur Smu ExclusiveConverse All Star Hi Snow Leopard Faux Fur Smu Exclusive
  • Converse All Star Low Purple Gold Luxe Smu ExclusiveConverse All Star Low Purple Gold Luxe Smu Exclusive
  • Converse  all Star Hi WashedConverse  all Star Hi Washed
  • Converse  all Star Hi HawaiianConverse  all Star Hi Hawaiian
  • Converse  all Star Hi WashedConverse  all Star Hi Washed
Final Word

Continuing to raise the bar season after season, designers of all capacities are responding to our love affair with the trainer, making it an ever-increasing temptation to splurge half a month’s rent on a new pair of uber-cool treads.

With such an array of superb designs on offer, the casual clobber scene has never looked so good.