Over the course of the last five years, we’ve watched footwear mutate and inflate as ugly-sneaker madness sunk its claws into the world of fashion. As a movement, it’s been responsible for some truly preposterous shoes, to which history will likely be unkind. But at the same time, the trend has also helped to open people’s eyes to sneakers that are perhaps more visually striking than what they’d ordinarily go for. And that’s by no means a bad thing.
See, minimalist sneakers are great for keeping things clean, but they’re not much use if you want to stand out from the crowd. For that, you’ll want a few pairs of statement sneakers in your footwear rotation; the sort of sneakers that do the talking as well as the walking, whether that’s through bold colours, unconventional textiles, daring design elements or an oversized silhouette.
As we get into the groove of 2023, there are a few key statement-sneaker trends that should be on your radar. Read on to find out what they are and why you need them on your shoe rack.
Thanks to the continued success of sneakers like the New Balance 990, your old man’s lawn-mowing footwear is still very much en vogue. These oversized, understated ‘dad shoes‘ have always been around but the trend towards bulkier silhouettes opened them up to a new audience.
Their trademark simple colouring – often grey or navy – makes them extremely versatile and easy to style. Sort of like the chunky-sneaker era’s answer to a Stan Smith or an Achilles Low.
Fashion’s obsession with the great outdoors isn’t going away anytime soon. Over the past few years, we’ve seen things like thick-pile fleeces, cargo pants and technical shells reappropriated for the runway, while brands like Arc’teryx and The North Face put out high-profile collabs with the likes of Palace and Gucci respectively.
We’ve also seen trail runners topping ‘sneakers of the year’ lists for several years running, and shoes like Salomon’s XT-6 provide a great way to spice up your footwear rotation in a comfortable and practical way. For a premium take, check out what Axel Arigato is doing with its rather delightful Marathon Runner.
Embracing statement sneakers doesn’t have to mean buying a pair of Fila Disruptors. In fact, it should never mean that. If you’re looking for a subtle way to make your shoes stand out, try going for sneakers that employ off-kilter materials to give them some added texture. Think corduroy, felt and hairy suede, all of which can look great on the right shoe and take dyes particularly well, resulting in deeper, richer colours.
Just remember to think about textures elsewhere in your outfit when styling textured sneakers. For example, a pair of corduroy trousers may not be the best option if your shoes are also corduroy. By all means incorporate multiple textured pieces, just make sure there’s a degree of variety between them.
Throwback Basketball Shoes
Eighties and nineties basketball shoes are gaining traction this year, which is great news for anyone looking to breathe new life into their sneaker game. These high top silhouettes are big and bold, but with simple styling that lends itself well to a wide range of casual outfits.
Adidas, for one, has been pushing its classic Forum model for a little while now, enlisting the likes of A$AP Rocky and Slowthai to help give the 80s model its mojo back. Meanwhile, the famously divisive Nike Air Jordan II is due to get the Off-White treatment, as well as a Union collab, which will no doubt help to make throwback basketball shoes one of the hottest statement sneakers of the year.
Retro running shoes are the gifts that keep on giving. Ever since they first jogged into our lives in the 1960s, these simple athletic shoes have remained steadfast in their appeal and surefooted in their style.
With suede and mesh panels, they work well in bright, bold hues, helping to add a pop of colour to outfits without overdoing it. They’re pretty versatile too – excellent with shorts in the summer months, and they don’t look bad with a pair of jeans either.
Collabs can be tiresome, particularly given that the majority of them are nothing more than thinly veiled clout/money-chasing operations with the absolute bare minimum of creative input. That said, there have been a few in recent years that have stood apart, notable for their unconventional approach, reworking sneakers entirely as opposed to just slapping an extra logo on the tongue.
Releases like the Nike x Sacai LDWaffle and the CDG Foamposite give us faith that collabs can still be innovative, which is why we think investing in a pair of off-the-wall collaborative kicks is one of the best ways to jazz up your footwear game this season.