For a lot of guys in the conservative professions, dressing for the office still means a two-piece navy suit and black oxfords that have been polished to within an inch of their life. Luckily for some, the landscape is beginning to change and the casual workplace has become a customary fixture across much of the developed world.
In the start-ups and ‘creative’ offices, it’s become much more acceptable to chuck on a pair of sneakers with chinos and to let the tired old leather stompers to collect dust. Unfortunately, finding the right pair of kicks can be a small ordeal unto itself.
Sure, the rules might be less draconian. You’re no longer limited to black or brown shoes that leave you with blisters and a fortnightly session with a podiatrist. That’s not to say you should throw on your most sentimental pair of feral gym trainers and hope the boss doesn’t look down. Wearing sneakers is not and never should be a concession to not looking your best.
Here, we’ve compiled a selection of eight sneakers that are corporate and boardroom friendly. These sneakers are for those offices where a suit and tie isn’t on the menu, but neither is looking like a chump on his way to the weights room.
With over a century of distinguished experience as a traditional shoemaker, you’d be surprised to hear that John Lobb is no slouch in the sneaker game. These Levah Cap-Toe Leather Sneakers capture Lobb’s distinctive understatement, in a midnight navy with toe cap detailing and a chunky black outsole.
They are Made in Italy from 100% leather with a rubber crepe sole, adding comfort and cushioning for long days on the move. If you’ve got the spending power, these sneakers can tidy up a casual Friday look, but aren’t so casual that you’d get refused at the door during Friday night after-work drinks.
Harry’s Of London
English visionaries Harry’s of London blend shoemaking innovations – memory gel soles, tech mesh, and high-tech fabrics – with the heritage of Italian craftsmanship. The ‘Mr Jones Bolt’ sneakers offer an understated, low profile, ideal for the transition from office to boozy not-office activities.
With a neutral grey suede body and rubberised white leather stripes, these sneakers would work well under a brown or light blue suit for your summer office tailoring. For those of you who can’t quite get the right fit, these sneakers include Harry’s trademark 3D Technogel midsole, a flexible cushioning system that adjusts to your gait and the dimensions of your feet.
Founded in Sweden in 2010, Spalwart employ vintage shoemaking techniques and moulds to capture a retro aesthetic inspired by the sneakers of the mid to late twentieth century. A throwback to the low profile of a classic tennis shoe, these ‘Court’ nubuck sneakers have a subdued navy body with white rubber outsoles, and are hand-finished in Slovakia to ensure each pair is as durable and comfortable as possible.
Spalwart have a deliberately-limited social media presence and not much of a retail footprint down under, but Mr Porter has a solid selection of retro-inspired sneakers that’ll see you through the tedium of paperwork and reluctant coffee runs for your employers.
We’d be in a bit of trouble if we dared to make a list of sneakers and ignored where it all began. Although Converse originated in the early days of the twentieth century, the Chuck Taylor models we all know and love earned their bones on the basketball court during the 1920’s.
It didn’t take long for the white, blue and red colourway and uncomplicated design to take hold in the minds of a diverse audience. These classic low top sneakers are made with a resilient vulcanised rubber sole and have a canvas upper, promising superior comfort for daily wear. These sneakers are at home in a dressed-down office, with chinos and a polo in summer or a gingham shirt and puffer vest in the colder months.
Givenchy’s Urban Street no-lace sneakers will satisfy the ardent minimalists in every office. With black rubber soles and a monochromatic upper, these leather sneakers are subtly decorated with Givenchy’s branding in discreet gold letters on the back of the heel. They also have elasticated straps across the vamp, making them an easy slip-on choice when you’ve missed your third alarm for the morning, and the bus left without you five minutes ago.
There’s a lot of competition for the quintessential white sneaker, but we think Common Projects should go home with the crown. Common Projects derive inspiration from restrained simplicity, and their sneakers are known for unpretentious colourways and streamlined design that eliminates busy detailing. The Achilles Leather Sneaker is Common Projects royalty, and one of their most popular offerings.
These sneakers have an understated profile and are made in Italy from textured pebble-grain leather, with additional resilience against the abrasions and scuffs encountered in everyday wear. White sneakers can smarten up anything – whether it’s a cotton suit or your laziest chino and shirt look – so you’ll enjoy massive mileage out of these in a casual office.
Founded in 1889, Lanvin have a proud history of producing luxury goods and their sneakers have generated a considerable following beyond high street. These high-top sneakers are made from tan nubuck leather, with grey laces and thick rubber soles. Nubuck is similar in texture and feel to suede, but much tougher – making them ideal for a guy who does a lot of work on his feet.
With a profile and shape reminiscent of a chukka or Chelsea boot, these sneakers are a great option for the guy who wants a tough yet comfortable alternative to a traditional leather boot for his office rotation.