Spring is a time of new beginnings, which makes it a fitting opportunity for a little wardrobe refresh. There’s lots to think about, from transitional jackets to lightweight knitwear, but the best place to begin is from the ground up. This can only mean one thing: it’s time to hang up the winter boots and put some spring in your step with a pair of seasonally-appropriate suede sneakers.
This type of footwear stays in hibernation during the colder months. The soft nap of the fabric is easily spoiled by inclement weather, meaning its smoother sibling, leather, tends to be the go-to sneaker material for this time of year. But as soon as things start to dry up, suede becomes a great sneaker option once again, adding texture, enhancing colour and adding a luxurious touch to some of our favourite models and silhouettes.
There’s no shortage of options to choose from, but a few styles stand head and suede-y shoulders above the rest. Here you’ll find a carefully curated selection of our favourite styles for the season, covering everything from clean-cut classics to trend-driven throwbacks. If you’re looking to add a pair of suede sneakers to your rotation this spring and summer, these are the ones to shop.
New Balance 990v2
In our eyes, Bostonian sneaker giant New Balance can do no wrong with its iconic 990 line. The first iteration of these upscale suede running shoes launched in 1982 and was, at the time, the most expensive sneaker on the market.
The 990 has been reimagined five times since then with the latest version, the 990v6, slated for release late 2022. Seeing as it’s not available yet, we’d like to point you in the direction of our favourite version, the 990v2. It’s a superb retro runner with beautifully soft suede uppers and goes with anything from jeans to soft tailoring.
This basketball-inspired shoe from LA’s Clae is a solid option for anyone looking for a high-quality summer shoe with hits of both suede and leather. It’s handcrafted from beautifully soft Italian leather and is understated enough to wear with pretty much anything.
We’re big fans of the white and navy version, which features white and off-white panelling to the uppers, offset with a contrast outsole and heel tab.
Uniform Standard Series 1
Every man should have a proper pair of premium minimalist sneakers in his rotation, and every man could do a lot worse than Uniform Standard’s Series 1. This ultra-clean, round-toe sneaker doesn’t need to shout to be heard and instead lets the quality of the materials and timelessness of the silhouette do the talking.
It’s great in leather, but the texture of the Italian suede uppers really lends the shoe another dimension and makes it perfect for the warmer months. Wear it with, well, anything.
Nike Air Max 1
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the shoe that brought visible cushioning units to the masses: the Nike Air Max 1. This classic 90s runner is more than a shoe at this point – it’s a piece of design history. A piece of design history that it just so happens to feature suede panelling and looks great with a pair of shorts and a decent leg tan.
A recent string of collabs seems to indicate that Nike is gearing up to make this the year of the Air Max 1, which means we should see some nice new colourways emerging… and maybe even the return of a few OG ones, too.
ETQ LT 01
Amsterdam’s ETQ has lots of stunning sneakers, but the LT 01 is the original and arguably best. It’s the style that started it all, beloved for its clean lines, fuss-free styling and simple shape.
The shoe is crafted in Portugal from high-quality Italian suede and available in a palette of classic colours ranging from rich brown and navy to subtle beige and greys. We think this style works particularly well with summer tailoring and would make an excellent contemporary alternative to a Derby or loafer for warm-weather weddings that fall on the more casual end of the smart casual spectrum.
Oliver Cabell Low 1
Sometimes less is more, and you only need to look at Oliver Cabell’s signature sneaker for proof of that. This simple shoe can happily go toe to toe with something like Common Projects’ Achilles Low in terms of looks and build quality, and there’s now a selection of suede versions available, tastefully distressed and featuring the brand’s striking yet subtle ‘O’ logo to the sides.
For anyone looking for a luxe minimalist sneaker with a difference, the search ends here.
The ZSP7 from French brand Zespa is a forward-thinking shoe that riffs on the recent chunky sneaker trend while keeping things current. It’s a striking design that manages to stay just the right amount of subtle thanks to the carefully considered colourways and clever use of materials.
The off-white version is one of our favourites, featuring a ripstop and suede mix for the upper and semi-transparent sections to the midsole. It’s a sporty take on the bulky silhouettes that have dominated the sneaker landscape for the last few years and will look great with anything from shorts to drawstring pants.
Stepney Workers Club Dellow
Stepney Workers Club’s Dellow model answers the prayers of anyone looking for an under-the-radar alternative to something like a Converse Chuck Taylor Ox or a Vans Old Skool.
It’s a simple canvas plimsoll with a sturdy sole and chunky-ish shape that will most likely work across your entire wardrobe. The best bit? It’s also available in suede and comes in some really nice earth tones like forest green, olive and burnt orange.
The Gazelle is one of Adidas’ most popular suede styles and one of the most iconic sneaker models ever created. It’s been a Three Stripes mainstay since its original launch in the 1960s, remaining popular for decades.
Today, the shoe features a flat sole, soft suede uppers, a foam tongue and three leather stripes to each side. It’s simple, classic and versatile, with a rich history and heritage that most sneakers around today can only dream of.