Sneaker designs tend to fluctuate just as wildly as men’s fashion trends these days. Each season we’re introduced to a myriad of new shapes and styles, each hoping to earn pride of place on sneakerheads’ feet.
Yet while some new models are well worth adding to your rotation, others are better left alone. And if you want to avoid looking like a fashion victim, it really pays to be able to tell the difference.
The past few years have been explosive in the world of footwear. Innovative new technology crept evermore frequently into designs. Knitted uppers became the new normal. But perhaps most importantly of all, minimalism gave way to maximalism, as the world’s most revered designers uniformly marched giant, “ugly” trainers down the runway.
And if this year is anything to go by, things aren’t calming down anytime soon. On that note, here are the sneaker trends you need to know right now, along with some considered advice on how to get them right.
Supersized sneakers stomped their way into the fashion spotlight back in 2013 with the release of the Raf Simons x Adidas Ozweego. But the trend has really only gone mainstream in the past 12 months.
It was the emergence of the beetle-crushing Balenciaga Triple S in late 2016 that kicked things into gear. While the world was hesitant at first, fashion insiders and industry influencers have now fully embraced the look, ensuring that every brand, from high street to high end, is now churning out big, bulky silhouettes. While most are best given a wide berth, there is the odd design that’s worth adding to your shoe rack.
What To Shop: A.P.C. Techno Sneaker
If anyone was going to make the ugly trainer craze palatable, it was the no-frills purveyor of Parisian minimalism, A.P.C.
The Techno Sneaker is the perfect option for anyone who wants to dip their toe into the bulky trainers craze in a way that won’t leave them cringing at photos for years to come.
What To Drop: Fila Disruptor
If Britney Spears would’ve worn it in 1999 that’s your cue to stay well away. The Fila Disruptor is a perfect visual representation of everything there is to dislike about the ugly trainer trend: it’s tacky, it’s not particularly interesting to look at, and it will date very, very fast.
The recent 1990s revival within menswear has brought a number of gaudy trends back to life. The most offensive of which has been the reemergence of oversized, in-your-face branding.
Everyone from respected haute couture houses to minimalist-leaning labels have had their logos blown up and emblazoned all over their collections. And the world of footwear hasn’t escaped unscathed either.
The past year has seen enlarged logos cropping up on sneakers of all shapes and sizes. From Nike to Gucci, and everything in between.
What To Shop: New Balance 997
At the risk of sounding like a hipster, New Balance was doing the big logo thing before it was cool. The large “N” featured on the sides of the brand’s shoes has become an instantly recognisable signifier of quality and somehow manages to skirt a line between bold and unassuming.
What To Drop: Gucci Rhyton
It doesn’t matter whether it’s “hot right now” or not. Having a giant Gucci logo printed on anything will always scream “try hard”.
Fashion’s cyclical nature usually means that whatever is going on at any given time is a response to what went before it. For many years, minimalism had ruled supreme, so things were bound to begin moving in the opposite direction at some point.
However, rather than being cast into obscurity, minimalist footwear has earned a place in the sneaker history books. Simple white trainers are now a bona-fide men’s style classic and their enduring popularity proves they won’t be going away any time soon.
What To Shop: Common Projects Achilles Low
Luxury sneakers are a big deal these days, and designer labels have Common Projects to thank for that. The New York-based brand’s iconic Achilles Low is as simple as it gets, but it’s next-level quality and unbeatable silhouette have seen it become a contemporary essential. There are of course new kids on the block, such as C.QP but Common Projects were there first.
What To Drop: Adidas Stan Smith
When plain white kicks became big news it was the Stan Smith leading the charge. But – whisper it quietly – we can’t help feel that its time may have passed (again). Today, there are countless alternatives on the market doing the same thing, only better.
Back-To-Basics Skate Shoes
There was a time when footwear designed for skateboarding operated a strict “bigger is better” policy. Air-bubble cushioning, excessively-padded tongues and intricate detailing were all par for the course.
Over the past decade, however, things have gone back to their roots. Today the no-frills skate shoe is a popular choice for everyone from fashion designers to the guy pulling your pint down the local pub to, well, skateboarders.
What To Shop: Converse One Star
Converse’s skate-designed output has always experienced peaks and troughs in popularity. But one thing that will always look great is this simple suede sneaker.
What To Drop: Nike SB Stefan Janoski Max
Nike’s Stefan Janoski pro model is cool. Nike’s Air Max line of footwear is also (for the most part) cool. The two together, not so much.
When it comes to footwear designed with sport in mind, pushing boundaries with technology has always been a driving force. The big athleisure brands are locked in an endless arms race, each hoping to come up with the next big thing in sneaker tech. For the rest of us, that means great shoes that are built to perform.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen knitted uppers become popular, 3D printing starting to be rolled out as a means of production for intricate sole units, and even self-lacing mechanisms. But which ones are actually worth buying into?
What To Shop: Nike Epic React
Thanks in no small part to a fierce marketing campaign, Nike’s Epic React has become this year’s biggest running shoe. But its sleek silhouette and subtle styling mean it works a treat off the track too.
What To Drop: Nike HyperAdapt
Marty McFly’s self-lacing Nike trainers in Back to the Future II were a fun novelty. But they were just that: a novelty. Tying shoelaces was the problem that no one asked for a solution to, but Nike decided to go ahead and fix it anyway. The catch? It’ll cost you a month’s rent.
With all that tech being churned out by sportswear’s heavy hitters, sometimes it’s nice to go back to basics. Retro suede runners are big news this year and make the perfect accompaniment to anything from a tailored tracksuit to selvedge denim.
These throwback kicks often feature vivid block colours, meaning they can be a great way to introduce a splash of vibrancy to even the most pared-back of outfits. Plus they’re seriously comfortable, which is always a welcome bonus.
What To Shop: Spalwart Marathon Trail
Swedish label Spalwart’s iconic Marathon Trails are produced using authentic sports shoe moulds from the seventies. The result is a sneaker that looks like it came through a tear in the fabric of time and arrived in the here and now.
What To Drop: Givenchy 1952
Great shape, but a little too much going on here for our liking. If you really want to nail the retro runner trend, the secret is to keep it simple.