2015 was the year that trainers truly went mainstream, and we’re all the more comfortable for it. Any self-respecting club won’t turn its nose up at a pair anymore and they’re – in some cases – even office-safe, saving us a packet on single-purpose hard-sole shoes and taking pounds off our poor peds.
At a healthy estimated value of $55bn per year, the international sneaker market doesn’t show any signs of dipping just yet. And this year, there’s plenty of newness to whet your appetite. Here’s our rundown of what’s trending in trainers.
If there was a Trainer Construction League Table – and trust us, someone is beavering away on one somewhere – then leather (and other, leathery-but-not-leather synthetics) woven strips bolted onto responsive soles are very much in the medal positions.
2016 is taking the woven trend and really running with it. Converse has already dipped a moulded rubber toe box in the waters with luxurious woven suede takes on its iconic Chuck Taylor 70 and Deck Star 67 slip-on styles, and Nike is set to drop at least nine different colourways of its low-key suede Mayfly Woven in spring. Meanwhile the Portland pioneer’s Free Inneva Woven model is getting two new fresh licks of paint come April.
Converse Woven Leather Pack
Nike Mayfly Woven
Nike Free Inneva
Old-School, Low Skate-Style Shoes
The wave of counterculture appropriation just keeps on washing over us, the fervent aesthetes, who want to look like a skateboarder without all the unwavering dedication, talent and broken bones it takes to actually be one.
Thankfully, the puffy Etnies of old have ollied their last. In their stead are slightly less bloated, low-profile skate silhouettes versatile enough to be worn off-the-ramp but sturdy enough to be scraped and battered and only get better with age.
Vans Old Skools, for example, are a certified design classic (not the hi-tops, mind – they are all kinds of terrible) and come ‘Ye-approved, while Converse’s Jack Purcells are still sitting comfortably in that smart-casual sweet spot. Ditto the chunky low-tops from the likes of Novesta and PF Flyers.
If you really want to spunk your rent money, Visvim’s luxe Skagway slip-ons have that perfect trust fund-meets-The Big Lebowski vibe. Which is a thing. Trust us.
Vans Old Skool
Converse Jack Purcell
It’s no secret that fashion houses have been jumping on trainers over the past couple of years in a bid to take a bite out of the sneakerhead market. And every label worth its stitching has at least an in-house pair or two.
Usually offered at an astonishing mark-up, purchasing a pair of these is an undeniable lifestyle flex. Designers Raf Simons and Rick Owens have garnered a lot of chatter for their adidas collaborations, but mainstays like Lanvin (arguably a key progenitor of our current obsession with kicks), Italian-made Koio Collective and esteemed London cobbler John Lobb have recently brought out stellar efforts, too.
Lobb’s ultra-minimalist Levah – a lightweight summer-ready sneaker available in suede and velveteen calf leather – caught eyes last year, and Parisian disruptor Damir Doma’s sub-label SILENT delivered the goods with the colour-blocked Fedka low-top.
With millennials an increasingly important market for high-end labels, expect to see plenty more superbly crafted ‘accessible’ styles, at less than accessible price points.
John Lobb Levah
Affordable Fashion Trainers
On the other side of the fence is the Fashion Trainer’s slightly scruffier younger brother, the Affordable Fashion Trainer.
Intent on democratising (read: copying) the luxury trainer, mainstream sportswear and high street names are – with a wink, nudge and healthy dose of it’s-all-in-good-fun boyish charm – swiping silhouettes, panels and eyelets from the blue-chip brands, keen to bring you the effect of a £500 trainer without the knee-weakening price tag. Which is nice of them, really, isn’t it?
adidas’ Tubular was rumoured to be a prototype of the Yeezy Boost and garnered hypebeast acclaim by the comment section-ful, while COS has been ‘channelling’ pricey labels like Epaulet, Zespa and Common Projects for seasons with its unfussy neutral lace-ups.
Make 2016 the year you realise you don’t need to cough up your car insurance for a pair of trending trainers that look money.
If last year was all about all-white sneakers (the Cokeboy look), and 2014 saw triple-black (‘murdered out’) trainers come up, then this year our money’s on the neutral mélange – stone, beige, taupe and the like. So you can forget those fluoro-green mesh runners you drunkenly copped last season.
The best thing about light neutral footwear is that you can wear it with practically anything; it’s one-part trend, one-part really-appreciated-break for your wallet.
Our top-shelf favourites are the ecru perforated Common Projects Achilles, Tod’s to-the-point leather sneakers and pretty much anything by Japanese wizards Hender Scheme.
If, however, we’re talking shoes that regular humans can afford, it’s got to be icy Nike Archive 83.Ms, adidas’ grey suede Stan Smiths, and Puma’s new Blaze Ignite tan colourway. All wearable. All fresh AF.
Puma Blaze Ignite
Nike Archive 83.Ms
adidas Stan Smith
Hardly a day goes by now without news of a new high-low pairing set to drop or a rapper gearing up for a social media onslaught to promote his signature shoe, but that (usually) somehow doesn’t make these partnerships any less exciting.
The cultural cachet of a collaboration is obvious – you take two cool things and make them make a baby, with the theory being that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It doesn’t always happen that way, obviously, and can result in a snot-nosed devil child of a shoe which everyone will try to love because they know that’s the right thing to do, but god is it difficult…
Sometimes, though, it just clicks – like Common Projects and MRPORTER’s recent hook-up. It’s hard to predict what’ll appear this year – collabs usually tend to drop from the heavens like those frogs in Magnolia – but if 2015 was anything to go by, we’re onto a winner once again.
One of our favourites was cult German store A Kind Of Guise’s partnership with adidas – a hard to find drop that’s definitely worth searching around for: a deft mix of waffle sections, webbed outsoles and cool ‘raw cotton’ styling.
Retailer Skate also hooked up with New Balance for a car-inspired camel and black suede block dubbed the M998 ‘PRMR’, and who can overlook last summer’s heady brew of Italian label Diadora, Packer Shoes and Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon for the N9000 ‘Purple Tape’ to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Rae’s legendary album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx? We’ve got fingers crossed for more of the same.
Diadora x Packer Shoes x Raekwon N9000
Premier x New Balance 998 PRMR
a kind of guise x adidas consortium
If you’re uninitiated or have some kind of blindness to compound words (an affliction that must make 2016 a truly hellish time to be alive), a ‘sneakerboot’ is a hardwearing variant of the trainer aimed at the divergent audiences of svelte fashion bloggers and blokes who climb hills to Instagram photos of all this bloody wood that they’ve just chopped.
2016 – with its, thanks to climate change, unpredictable weather situations – might just be when this heretofore contentious footwear style comes into its own.
Nike’s new double-black Air Max 90 sneakerboot is the street classic on steroids. Beefed up beyond compare, it’s the discerning Roadman’s Big Weekend In The Countryside shoe and we’re all for that, along with the rest of Nike’s muscular All Conditions Gear (ACG) range.
The sneakerboots from outside Oregon’s favourite superpower are a little hit and miss, although adidas’ Tubular Boot (strictly for fair-weather boot fans owing to a soft suede construction) and the impenetrably cool Yeezy 750 certainly do their best.
Nike Air Max 90 Sneakerboot
Yeezy Boost 750
Trainers, despite their ties to modernity and forward-thinking design, aren’t immune to fashion’s cycles. Which means perfectly good kicks often get cut way too early, only to be brought back in a big way some years later.
Luckily for us, savvy brands have been diving deep into their archives and reissuing some of the classic silhouettes and styles that made fans giddy all those years ago (albeit with prices more than adjusted for inflation).
Heritage-heavy brands like Reebok and adidas Originals are obviously the go-to in this respect: the Bolton brand’s recent reissue of the beautifully understated Club C 85 flew out the door and the Germans’ never-ending hallway of footwear heroes has provided a tonne of old-school kicks for the refined sneakerhead to get wet over.
New Balance, too, have jumped on board with the ‘Bringback’ (*eye-roll emoji*) 990 – one of the comfiest trainers there has ever been – and the success of Nike’s Cortez will surely prompt more of the big guys to dip back into its back catalogue.
Reebok Club C 85
New Balance 900
Have you spotted any other trends making waves?
Let us know below.