But what started off as mere trend – that is, the intermixing of luxury with active wear – has morphed into a fashion phenomenon for men. And the humble sneaker played a big part. Not since the Nineties has the sneaker been so pivotal to the men’s style canon. But in the Noughties, they’re sophisticated and chic. And we have the European fashion houses and some style-savvy sports brands, to thank for that.
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Know Your Basics
As the name suggests, basic types are the ones you could pick up easily in your local retailer and burn through after 12 months wear. Usually made from canvas, or leather for the special editions, basics range from hi-tops to low, lace or slip-on with Converse and Vans being popular brands.
They are cheap and classic, and don’t really take much thought. Keep these kicks for casual days with a tee, jeans or chinos and denim shorts – not luxe enough for tailoring.
The Retro OG Sports Sneaker
The retro sneakers are attributed for sneakers making a resurgence in the past few years. Like the basics, they offer a timeless silhouette and are comfortable, but they differ from say, Chucks in terms of overall edge. Their vintage-look makes them perfect suede candidates as a well as classic leather.
But colour is where the retro sports shines. Try brands and models like New Balance, Nike Air Max 90 and Reebok Pump, in an array of colour combinations. I like complementary and analogous colour matching for a perfect statement shoe under jeans and shirt. For suits and blazers, keep the clothing neutral in tone if you want coloured retro feet. Otherwise, grey, navy and black prints on shoes are great and play around with matching coloured parts of your clothing with your shoes, too.
The New Sports Sneaker
These sneakers are actually designed for active pursuits in the gym or running outside, so take caution. The new sports models include Nike Roshe Runs and Adidas Ultra Boost; their hyper-coloured tones – orange, green and blue – electrifying the common man’s wardrobe – if worn right.
These sneakers look great paired with ‘athleisure’ gear: jogger pants, a neoprene bomber and tee. Stay away from relaxed, bunchy jeans to avoid looking like a bogan and the traditional feel of suit pants don’t sit well over the active vibe of these shoes. Available in non-fluoro hues, going neutral helps with the pairing of these technical gym shoes under casual wear.
The Super Yachty Sneaker
The super yacht sneakers take your mainstream sports kicks to a new, luxury level, permitting men to wear trainers with smart attire. Though the posh versions maintain the same silhouette and function as the previous types, labels such as Givenchy, Valentino and Saint Laurent craft theirs in crocodile leather, pony skin and python – making little miss cow hide seem rather common.
The price of these sneakers makes them investment pieces and should be treated with meticulous care – as you would your dress shoes. Never wear these to the gym and keep your outfit on par with the sophisticated standard; the sleekness of these shoes sitting smartly under a casual suit look. Opt for a tee or sweater under the jacket instead of a button up shirt, and cropped pants with no socks add an extra edge.
Avant-Garde “Hectic” Sneakers
The futuristic style of the avant-garde sneakers means care must be taken to get the look right. Not for all men’s style types, the shoes – made big by Rick Owens and Yohji Yamamoto – are for gents accustomed to the longline, muted colour look, that sits drapey and a touch oversized.
These boots are often hi-top in silhouette and combine luxury skins with sporty, tech fabrics for a hybrid take on the luxury sneaker. Like the outfit pairing they require, the colour of these sneakers are best in stark white and solid black, letting the alien-shaped shoes and their out-of-this-world fabrics feature.