If there’s one item that has bridged the divide between casual and formal in contemporary menswear, it’s the white sneaker. Shoes that were once strictly for athletic purposes have been transformed into a sartorial essential, providing a versatile and classic footing to almost any outfit.
Here are Ape’s favourite models on the market.
Luxury: Valentino Garavani Backnet Perforated Sneakers
Sat firmly at the premium end of the white sneaker spectrum, these luxury Italian kicks feature premium leather uppers, laser-cut perforated ‘V’ branding as well as two signature gold studs applied at each heel to ensure they subtly stand out against their minimal contemporaries.
Minimal: Axel Arigato Clean 90
A classic, refined low-top sneaker handmade in Portugal using heritage shoemaking principles. Expect premium leather uppers and lining, a removable cushioned footbed and, interestingly, a cemented construction that ensures the original shape is kept.
Affordable: Superga 2750 Cotu Classic
For affordability and style, it’s difficult to beat the Superga 2750 Cotu Classic. Streamline, unassuming and comfortable, the canvas upper adds breathability for warmer climates. The self-described “people’s shoes of Italy” are an understated classic that offer a timeless silhouette, working well with both wide and slim-leg trousers.
Modern Classic: Uniform Standard Series 1
Bored of making the best sneakers for everyone else, having spent 15 years designing for household names (some on this list), British footwear designers Uniform Standard decided to go it alone in 2018 – bringing their handmade minimalist leather sneaker expertise to the masses.
Now, with a stable of sleek minimal designs in a variety of colourways and materials the brand are a serious contender for your white sneaker needs. The Series 1 White Leather Vintage with its slightly off-white sole is a subtly refined take on a classic.
The Icon: Adidas Stan Smith
A certified iconic sneaker that although predominantly white, offers a subtle flash of colour in its detailing. The Stan Smith is a fail-safe option that is chunkier than other plimsoll-inspired silhouettes but can still be dressed up with tailoring or down with jeans and chinos. Make sure they’re kept spotless.
Future Icon: Oliver Cabell Low 1
For that premium minimalist sneaker style without the jaw-dropping price tag, the Oliver Cabell Low 1 is the ideal option. The direct-to-consumer brand use the same materials and factories as high-end competitors with the lack of bricks and mortar allowing them to pass the saving on to the customer. For a minimal, sleek dress up or down white sneaker, the Low 1 is a timeless classic.
Time Tested: Converse Jack Purcell
The Converse All-Star Ox sits alongside the Adidas Stan Smith and Superga Cotu Classic as a durable and affordable white sneaker for everyday use. A design almost untouched for over 80 years, this is a sneaker you can rest assured will never go out of style.
Durability: Vans Old Skool
A low-profile silhouette that’s dripping with skate legacy, the Vans Old Skool Low Top is great value for money and designed to withstand a battering. Light and breathable, the sneaker’s robust shape makes it a surprisingly versatile option that you will be able to count on for many years to come.
Chunky: Alexander McQueen Wedge Sole
Loved by the fashion crowd, detested by style purists but with a popularity (and aesthetic) that makes them unavoidable, the ugly sneaker trend is not for the faint-hearted – but chances are if you’re making the investment, you know what you’re doing. Alexander McQueen’s Wedge Sole sneaker has quickly become the industry insider’s choice, making its statement via shape and proportion rather than reverting to garish design.
Statement Maker: Off-White Low Vulcanised Sneaker
Statement sneakers courtesy of Mr Virgil Abloh, a man who is no stranger to hype-worthy footwear. The relatively clean leather uppers are contrasted by the sturdy black rubber soles which feature the brand’s signature chevron stripes. Off-White’s trademark arrows and bright zip tie make for a pair of sneakers that are guaranteed to become the focal point of any outfit, all while garnering serious kudos from those in the know.
Environmentally Friendly: Veja Nova
The Veja mission statement is “one foot in design and the other in social responsibility”, which means quality footwear whilst using sustainable materials (including organic cotton), respecting fair trade principles and championing upcycling. Their Nova White is a stylish vegan shoe that proves style can be sustainable.
British: Grenson Sneaker 22
It was only a matter of time before the Northampton shoemaking mavericks dipped their toe into the sneaker world, especially with owner Tim Little’s background at Adidas. The result? The Sneaker 22: a white calf leather sneaker inspired by classic basketball shoes of the 1980s. With a slightly higher upper and a robust rubber sole it’s a well-designed premium option that justifies its price point.
Designer: Gucci New Ace
This new and exclusive take on Gucci’s Ace sneaker sees the addition of a motif taken from the fashion house’s archives, as an ode to its 1980s preppy aesthetic. The low-top silhouette makes it the perfect accompaniment to smart athleisure looks or relaxed, eye-catching tailoring.
Contemporary Icon: Common Projects Original Achilles
Understated, minimal and sought after – the cult New York sneaker company’s Original Achilles Low is a contemporary menswear icon. Made in Italy with a superior construction and trademark golden hot-stamped serial number, Common Projects have mastered the minimal white sneaker, creating a style that’s perfect for both smart and casual looks. Often imitated, never bettered.