Whether you’re more minimal mid-top or OTT high-top, there’s no denying that trainers have edged their way into the fashion canon over the past few years.
Even Tom Ford, a designer famed for his sexy, smart eveningwear, showed a trainer-heavy (or ‘tennis shoes’ as he likes make to a point of calling them) collection back at London Collections: Men in January.
On this evidence, it’s fair to say trainers aren’t going anywhere soon. These are the styles to watch out for if you intend to keep up with the pack.
1. White Out
The epitome of minimalist style, the low-top white trainer has been an off-duty wardrobe staple since the days of Newman, Dean and McQueen.
Today, adidas’ Stan Smith sits front and centre when it comes to all-white models. Last year’s reboot of the iconic silhouette saw these simply styled trainers become the must-own silhouette for 2014-15, yet the Superstar, the German giant’s similarly pared-back model, isn’t far behind in the popularity stakes.
While still comparatively undiscovered by the mainstream, expect the shell-toe design to dominate city streets the world over going forward.
Adidas Stan Smith
At the more premium end of the spectrum, American-Italian label Common Projects has long been a key advocate of the trend.
Its signature Achilles Low model has spawned a slew of inspired-by takes, from contemporary brands like ETQ and Filling Pieces to storied British shoemakers such as John Lobb.
Common Projects Achilles Low
John Lobb Levah Trainers
Last but not least, what white trainer discussion would be complete without all-star US brand Converse?
The Jack Purcell – known for its contrast ‘smile’ on the toe – has long been a favourite of the fashion set, while the timeless Chuck Taylor has just received its first major update since its release almost an entire century ago. About time really.
Converse Jack Purcell ‘Signature’
Converse Chuck Taylor II
If you’re going to be investing in this trend, remember to keep yours as clean as possible; Jason Markk’s shoe care products come sneakerhead-certified.
- Adidas Superstar 1 White Mono Foundation
- Adidas Originals Stan Smith Trainers In Bright White And Green
- Asics Gel Lyte Iii Leather
- New Balance Ml996ew White
- Converse Jack Purcell Special Canvas Sneakers
- Adidas X Raf Simons Stan Smith
- Filling Pieces Mountain Cut Sneaker White Bizarro
- Reebok Npc Uk Ii White Blue & Red
- Vans California Old Skool True White
- John Lobb Leather Low-top Sneakers
- Common Projects Original Achilles Leather Sneakers
- Acne Studios Adrian Leather Sneakers
2. Block Colour & Print
We could just point you in the direction of the adidas x Pharrell ‘Supercolour’ pack on this one but the collaborative release that spawned a Pokémon ‘gotta catch ’em all’ mentality is actually indicative of a much wider trend.
adidas x Pharrell ‘Supercolour’ pack
Indeed, while subtly styled white trainers are making their presence felt, it seems our appetite for bold sneaks in eye-catching colours and all-over prints is equally voracious.
Take Nike’s patriotic red, white and blue Independence Day Air Force 1 VTs and Sock Darts, for example, or the sportswear giant’s sleek Air Huaraches, which have been reworked in various saturated hues including the fire engine red NM ‘Hot Lava’.
Nike Air Force 1 VT Independence Day Pack
Nike Independence Day Sock Darts
Nike Air Huaraches Hot Lava Pack
Returning to adidas, the brand’s Originals Superstar City pack included blue, purple and yellow colourways, among others, while its collaboration with Belgian designer Raf Simons resulted in an all-red Stan Smith – a style which, you’d be well within your rights to argue, looked so good that Saint Laurent engaged in a spot of the most sincere form of flattery in creating the all-red SL01 Court Classics.
adidas Originals Superstar City Pack
Adidas x Raf Simons Red Mono Stan Smith
But it’s not just bold block-colours that brands are opting for – showstopping prints are making their presence felt too.
Asics, Reebok, adidas and Visvim have all riffed on camo this season, while Nike went Hawaiian with an ‘Aloha’ release that touched everything from the Air Max to the Cortez. Pharrell took a similar approach, creating a summer-ready floral Jacquard pack as part of his on-going collaboration with adidas.
ATMOS X ASICS GEL LYTE V ‘CAMO’
Nike Aloha Pack
adidas Jacquard Pack
- Nike Air Huarache Nm
- Saint Laurent Sl01 Court Classic Leather Sneakers
- Balenciaga Arena High-top Leather Trainers
- Adidas Superstar 1 Pharrell Supercolour Bright Orange
- Adidas Superstar 80s City Pack Yellow Shanghai
- Adidas By Raf Simons Stan Smith Sneakers
- Ralph Lauren Mytton Floral Print Trainers
- Adidas Superstar 80s Trainers
- Lanvin Printed Calf Skin Baseball Sneakers
- Maison Margiela Replica Panelled Leather And Suede Sneakers
- Nike Air Huarache Light Og Ultramarine
- Visvim Skagway Camouflage-print Herringbone-twill Sneakers
3. Got Gum?
Born out of practicality, gum soles were initially developed for indoor hardcourt sports – their rubber construction designed to provide better grip than plastic-soled footwear, while ensuring no marks were left on playing surfaces.
Today, however, the five-a-side staple has moved off the courtside bench and into many a sneakerhead’s starting line-up. Classic gum-soled styles that still have us rapt include adidas’ Gazelle, Hamburg and Samba models, while rival sportswear juggernaut Nike’s ‘Triple White & Gum’ pack marries gum soles with all-white uppers, another of our top trainer trends.
Nike Air Max Triple White And Gum Pack
Since Nike had the smarts to fuse two of the biggest directions in sneakers, everything from the Air Trainer 3 to the Kobe 10 Mid and Air Max 90 has been given the all-white upper and brown sole treatment.
Going forward, the Air Huarache Light is set to get a gum sole with uppers in navy, black and grey, while Jordan Brand has also got in on the action with everything from Futures to 1s.
Nike Kobe 10 Mid With Gum Sole
Nike Jordan Future With Gum Sole
Nike Air Trainer 3 With Gum Sole
Arguably the most innovative take on the trend so far, though, has been Saucony’s ice-cream coloured ‘Scoops’ pack – gum soles designed to mimic waffle ice-cream cones. Genius.
Saucony Scoops Pack: Strawberry Vanilla
- Low Top Leather Trainers
- Reebok Classic Leather Utility Woven Trainers In Black
- Maison Margiela Replica Panelled Leather And Suede Sneakers
- New Balance Ml999bb Elite Edition Grey & Maroon
- Jordan Future Premium
- Adidas Adidas Originals Samoa Og Island Series
- Adidas Originals Hamburg Suede Sneakers
- Common Projects Achilles Raw Black
- Nike Air Max 1 Premium White & Gum Pack
4. Let’s Get Textural
Not only are we seeing bold statement uppers and unusual soles, the very fabric of trainers themselves is changing. With numerous brands now offering woven styles or exotic fabrications, it’s clear that – for some – plain leather or canvas just doesn’t cut it anymore.
First up? Cork. Previously the stuff of noticeboards and bottle stoppers, Nike has applied cork-based uppers to its Air Force 1, Blazer Mid, SB Janoski and Air Max 90 models so far, which gives these kicks not only a unique look, but an inimitable texture too.
Nike Blazer Mid Cork
Nike Air Max 90 Cork
On a more luxurious note, snakeskin has fast become a firm favourite within the world of high-fashion sneakers. Balenciaga and Gucci have both used reptile skin to give their footwear a more distinctive appearance for spring/summer 2015, while Nike offers a more affordable alternative in the form of the Air Python.
Gucci Yellow Python Sneaker
Nike Air Python
Not a fan of all things reptilian? Why not try pony or calf hair instead? Distinctively shiny and soft to the touch, this hair makes for an interesting alternative to leather and, surprisingly, is available from mass-produced brands as well as more niche artisanal labels.
Adidas’ Campus 80s are available in grey and burgundy pony hair iterations, while Rick Owens and Dolce & Gabbana also released calf hair styles this season.
However, our favourite designs come from lesser-known specialist Axel Arigato, which has applied both block-coloured and animal print pony hair uppers across a wealth of silhouettes, including the on-trend slip-on plimsoll.
Adidas Campus 80s Pony Hair
Axel Arigato Grey Pony Hair Slip-on
As well as introducing specialist fabrics, brands are also experimenting with high tech materials to ensure their kicks perform as good as they look.
Nike and adidas are again the leaders in the field, offering Flyknit and Primeknit versions (respectively) of some of their most popular silhouettes. The former’s Roshe Run and Free models have seamlessly transitioned from the gym to the streets thanks to the rise of sports luxe aesthetics, while the latter’s upcoming Consortium Superstar 80s Primeknit pack is sure to be a hit with those who are all about form and function.
Adidas Consortium Superstar 80s Primeknit
Nike Flyknit Racer ‘Oreo’ 2.0
- Nike Air Python Prm
- Nike Running Free 4.0 Flyknit Sneakers
- Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Denim Sneakers
- Vans Blue Bishop Denim Canvas Shoes
- Adidas Originals Stan Smith Primeknit Sneakers
- Rick Owens Cap-toe Calf Hair Sneakers
- Slip-on Pony Hair Plain Dark Green Pony Hair
- Diemme Garda Slip On Black Python
- Adidas Adidas Originals Campus 80s
- Nike Mens Free Inneva Woven Sneakers
- Converse X Missoni Chuck Taylor 1970s Ox Woven Multi
- Nike Blazer Mid Cork Natural & Black
While the world of trainer releases moves fast – with something new seemingly dropping every weekend – the wider trends are a little less fleeting.
Have you got on board with any of these big four? Do you think the block-colour trainer will be around much longer? What are your thoughts on the divisive gum sole?
Comment below to have your say.