Footwear Trend: Retro Running Trainers


In the world of fashion and style, form is often prioritised over function. Comfort? Relegated to the back seat. Many a style blogger or fashion follower will happily put up with blisters and the like for a pair of beautiful shoes – after all, footwear is one of the most important aspects of any look. Yet occasionally we manage to achieve that elusive footwear equilibrium; the perfect balance of comfort and style. Finding this sweet spot is becoming increasing difficult, yet a trend currently sweeping the industry has brought to the fore not only form, but function as well. The shoe, or more accurately, trainer, in question is the retro running shoe.

Retro Runners

The trainer, love it or loathe it, is very much a menswear essential. They make a versatile addition to any modern man’s off-duty wardrobe – especially mature, minimalist takes that are devoid of ostentatious branding and design features, which allows them to be dressed up or down effortlessly. The new running shoe trend builds on the foundations set by these timeless silhouettes, offering an extremely practical, comfortable and on point option that differs from the usual suspects of Chuck Taylors, Stan Smiths, Jack Purcells and Nike Blazers. Yet despite the running trainer’s practical intent and sporting heritage, it is important to note that this year’s selection isn’t built for the strains of physical exertion. For the purpose of this trend, you should be prioritising aesthetics, rather than the technology incorporated within the shoe. Your runners will add a touch of vintage cool and a sports luxe feel to any ensemble you choose to integrate them into. Just make sure you steer clear of the gym, track or field whilst donning your pair – you don’t want these getting scuffed up. This silhouette isn’t just one for the casual dresser, either. We are currently seeing many gents incorporating them into smart-casual ensembles, and even more utilising them for a stylish and comfortable commute (switching when they reach the office, of course).

Street Style Lookbook

This is one trend that actually began on the streets, with the high fashion industry quickly cottoning on to the rise of the running silhouette and releasing their own versions to combat the popularity of specialist brands like New Balance, Saucony and Nike. Reinforcing the trend’s continued influence and growth, our street style collective has captured a wide variety of gents wearing their runners in a number of distinct ways through both SS13 and AW13 – from casual to smart-casual and even dressed-down formal:

Men's Street Style - Retro Running Trainers

Key Brand Consideration #1: New Balance

No longer the reserve of the late, great Steve Jobs, New Balance has enjoyed a spectacular rise in status over the past couple of years. The brand have actually been producing superb trainers for the best part of a century now (just ask your granddad) and are famed for their technical versions that offer support and comfort like it’s going out of fashion – it’s not, by the way. To pull off the trend and for maximum style points, steer clear of the more athletic and modern technical designs. Instead, classic models like the 574, 577, 996 and 373 offer looks, comfort and a huge range of colour ways to consider:

  • New Balance 574 Classic Trainers In GreyNew Balance 574 Classic Trainers In Grey
  • New Balance 574 SuedeNew Balance 574 Suede
  • New Balance 996 – Size? Uk ExclusiveNew Balance 996 - Size? Uk Exclusive
  • New Balance 373 TrainersNew Balance 373 Trainers
  • New Balance M577ng Made In England SneakersNew Balance M577ng Made In England Sneakers
  • New Balance 373 TrainersNew Balance 373 Trainers
  • New Balance 574 Suede SneakersNew Balance 574 Suede Sneakers
  • New Balance Beams Plus 996 Nubuck And Mesh SneakersNew Balance Beams Plus 996 Nubuck And Mesh Sneakers
  • Mens New Balance 574 TrainersMens New Balance 574 Trainers
  • New Balance M574 Sonic GreyNew Balance M574 Sonic Grey
  • New Balance M574 Green Red ExclusiveNew Balance M574 Green Red Exclusive
  • New Balance M574 Sonic MaroonNew Balance M574 Sonic Maroon
Key Brand Consideration #2: Valentino

Legendary Italian fashion house and couture curators Valentino may seem like an odd brand to single out when discussing retro running trainers. However, their SS13 camouflage running trainers became an overnight cult classic and perhaps THE must-own piece of the year, selling out within a matter of weeks. So popular and sought-after they have become, everyone from Zara to Topman have been forced to react and produce their own lower cost versions for AW13. With camo trainers soon to be ubiquitous on high streets up and down the country, one way to separate yours from the pretenders is to invest in the originals. With this in mind, this season Valentino have carried on down a similar route with even more camouflage renditions in varying colours and patterns, although, thankfully, the now iconic silhouette has been retained. The high fashion approach even incorporates traditional running trainer detailing such as mesh, studding and coloured panels for a sense of authenticity. Simply put, Valentino’s runners offer true sports luxe appeal and represent the apex of this trend:

  • Valentino Nylon Suede And Leather Trainers 157700Valentino Nylon Suede And Leather Trainers 157700
  • Valentino Nylon Suede And Camo Leather Trainers 153404Valentino Nylon Suede And Camo Leather Trainers 153404
  • Valentino Nylon Suede And Leather Camo Trainers 157698Valentino Nylon Suede And Leather Camo Trainers 157698
  • Valentino Camouflage-print Leather And Suede SneakersValentino Camouflage-print Leather And Suede Sneakers
  • Valentino Leather-trimmed Suede And Mesh SneakersValentino Leather-trimmed Suede And Mesh Sneakers
  • Valentino Leather-trimmed Suede And Mesh SneakersValentino Leather-trimmed Suede And Mesh Sneakers
  • Valentino Plain Running TrainersValentino Plain Running Trainers
  • Valentino Full Leather Camo TrainersValentino Full Leather Camo Trainers
  • Valentino Contrasting Suede Mesh And Leather TrainersValentino Contrasting Suede Mesh And Leather Trainers

If you want to learn more about the brands that should be on your radar, check out our breakdown of the ten key trainer labels for 2013.

How To Wear: Retro Running Shoes
Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Retro Running Trainers Lookbook Outfit Inspiration

H&m ss13valentino ss13zara man soft wear 2013asos aw13berksha august 2013ami ss14bal aw13j crew pre fall 2013bal aw13primark aw13primark aw13primark winter 2013
Look #1: Cool, Comfortable & Casual

This trend-led outfit incorporates some of the key elements currently at the forefront of men’s fashion. Make a statement with your runners via leopard print panel detailing, which will draw all the attention and become the focal point of entire look. With the animal print present, keep the rest of the ensemble simple and low key. Jeans with a polo shirt is a tried and tested pairing – the complementary blue and deep red colour combination is what makes this marriage that bit more special. Layer up with a black bomber, another piece having a menswear moment. It’s simple enough not to take the attention away from the leopard and ties the look together, with the black picking out the same colour in the trainers:

  • Allsaints Bramford PoloAllsaints Bramford Polo
  • Miharayasuhiro Reversible Brushed Wool Bomber JacketMiharayasuhiro Reversible Brushed Wool Bomber Jacket
  • Asos Slim Jean In Vintage WashAsos Slim Jean In Vintage Wash
  • Topman Hawk Black Leopard TrainersTopman Hawk Black Leopard Trainers
Look #2: Smart-Casual

Dress up your runners in a smart-casual ensemble that belies the athletic origins of the footwear. A pair of tailored trousers doesn’t just have to be the reserve of the suit – break them out of their formal confines and work them into some of your more dressed down looks. A graphic roll neck makes for an on trend middle layer and bridges the gap between smart and casual perfectly. Throw a beige overcoat on top in preparation to face the elements; the colour touches on AW13’s appetite for all things camel and marries well with the prevalent navy tones. Complete the look with a pair of New Balance 373s in a colour way that works well with the rest of the look and demonstrates the versatility of the retro runner:

  • John Smedley Merino Wool Rollneck SweaterJohn Smedley Merino Wool Rollneck Sweater
  • Rvr Lardini Braided Wool CoatRvr Lardini Braided Wool Coat
  • Reiss Cantebury Heavyweight Twill Trousers NavyReiss Cantebury Heavyweight Twill Trousers Navy
  • New Balance 373 TrainersNew Balance 373 Trainers
Look #3: Sneakers With A Suit

There was a time, not so long ago, when combining running shoes with a suit was considered one of the worst faux pas you could commit – possibly up there with socks and sandals. However, due to the constant evolution of men’s fashion this viewpoint has softened somewhat, especially when the styling is right and the overall silhouette is spot on. A seasonally-appropriate, textured suit is a great way to subtly separate your tailoring from the crowd. Keep the cut on the slim side to give the overall aesthetic the contemporary feel you need in order to pull off a progressive look such as this. Going sockless in spring/summer would also help reinforce this fresh, modern approach. Finally, bring a point of interest to your attire with a printed shirt in a pattern that is nothing short of bold. It will dress down the suit a little more, ensuring the runners feel right at home with this sartorial heavyweight:

  • Reiss 1971 Gizmo Large Dogtooth Print Shirt BlueReiss 1971 Gizmo Large Dogtooth Print Shirt Blue
  • Topman Premium Grey Herringbone SuitTopman Premium Grey Herringbone Suit
  • Valentino Leather-trimmed Suede And Mesh SneakersValentino Leather-trimmed Suede And Mesh Sneakers
Final Word

Trends may have drawn our eye back to the retro running trainer this season, but there is no reason it can’t become a genuine go-to shoe for many more to come. Its versatility extends beyond the gym or morning run and it’s even managed to develop into a viable option to pair with your smarter attire. But now we want to hear your view:

  • Are you already a fan of the running shoe?
  • Do you view the silhouette as a fleeting trend, or do they have timeless potential?
  • Will you be investing this year? If so, what model do you have your eye on?
  • Is there a brand better than New Balance when it comes to the running trainer?

We would love to hear your thoughts and opinions, so leave your comments below…

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