Sneakers have foregone the realm of function and now proudly sit at the peak of contemporary streetwear. Much of this can be credited to creatives and designers like Kanye, Virgil Abloh, Yohji Yamamoto and Pharrell who have jumped on board the sneaker game to add their own distinct take on the humble footwear staple.
The result? Premium materials, luxury detailing, superior craftsmanship and signature design. It’s a no expenses spared approach and it’s not for everyone, but for those who want to elevate their personal style with a decent pair of kicks, you can look no further than the ones from our luxury sneaker brands here.
Before we get into it though, a bit of leg work for your extracurricular learning.
What Makes Luxury Sneakers Expensive
- Use of expensive high grade leathers – pebble leather which doesn’t crack as much over time
- Thicker leather – this ensures the shoe retains its shape and looks newer for longer
- Tumbled leather – some mid-range shoe brands use this to achieve a balance between quality and affordability
How To Pick High Quality Sneakers
- Leathers are the easiest to determine in terms of shoe quality but for performance shoes like Flyknits it’s a bit harder
- For materials like suede and leather, test how flexible it is by bending the shoe
- Smell is also a sign – you can smell the inside of a shoe and if it smells like glue you know it’s been made on the cheap
- A good quality shoe needs to smell like good quality leather – as long as they are new, smell away
- If they are lightweight they will be using more expensive soles which are generally better quality
- If it doesn’t look like it has a lot of manufacturing hours put in then the manufacturing costs shouldn’t be that high – think Converse
Where Luxury Sneakers Are Made
Plenty of luxury sneakers still pride themselves on being made in Italy but this is not the only country of origin for good quality kicks. These days China has surpassed the Italians when it comes to sneaker construction technology and according to Sneakerboy founder Chris Kyvetos, it’s a defining reason why Balenciaga moved their operations from Italy to China for their popular Triple S line.
“Even with this move to China, Balenciagas aren’t being made in a sneaker factory – they’re still making them in a women’s shoe making factory in China which has the tools to create a stitched and turned upper that is applied to a sneaker midsole – a process which can’t be achieved in Italy,” he told us.
Beyond Italy brands like New Balance continue to manufacture their flagship 990 sneaker in the USA using proven methods that date back decades. So the question really shouldn’t be which country luxury sneakers are made in, but what kind of factory or workshop they come from.
A prime example of this is Adidas’ 4D technology sneakers which require special 3D printing machines to construct the intricate sole. As a result, all Adidas FutureCraft 4D sneakers are made in Germany with materials primarily sourced in Germany.
Cost Of Luxury Sneaker Design
Look at any sneaker blog and you’ll be dazzled by the array of premium designs on offer implementing some of the most innovative materials. Gore-Tex, Flyknit, React, Boost, Primeknit…the list goes on.
You would think that design plays a huge role in driving up costs of any sneaker, but you’d be wrong, Chris Kyvetos told us.
“A lot of these technologies aren’t developed by the sneaker brands for your running pleasure,” he says. Instead the cost is usually factored into manufacturing, marketing, branding and profits.
Influenced by skating and street-style, Vans are some of the most iconic shoes of the 20th century. They have been making the same shoes for decades and only ever change the materials and colours available on the shoes. These timeless sneakers are unlikely to go out of style anytime soon and are casual shoes that are easy to style.
You can think of Novesta as Europe’s answer to the Converse. Their designs are classic and are made out of a range of materials including canvas, leather and suedes. Some of their shoes are even available in vegan materials. If you love Converse but are looking for something a little more unique, Novesta is worth a look.
A true classic, Adidas offer performance, street and luxury collaborations. There’s a sneaker to suit everyone when it comes to Adidas. Their original designs like ‘Stan Smith’ and ‘Gazelle’ have made a strong come back to form in recent years and are an affordable sneaker without compromise.
Axel Arrigato is a Swedish footwear label that is at the forefront the of the international sneaker movement. Their designs are minimalistic and clean with some featuring their signature bird embroidery. Their shoes are high quality and reasonably priced in comparison to other competitors.
The Adidas Consortium is a series of collaborations between Adidas and various top tier retailers across the world to produce limited quantity, unique designs. If you love Adidas’ shoes but would love something a little more unique, their Consortium collections have you covered.
Gucci sneakers cover all ends of the sneaker spectrum. On one hand they offer on trend chunky sneakers in an array of bright and bold colours whilst simultaneously offering their paired back, traditional leather sneaker. No matter your taste in sneakers, Gucci will have a pair for you.
That oh so famous red sole of Christian Louboutin is also available on mens sneakers. Their models feature this iconic design feature as well as other iconic design features of Louboutin’s such as their ‘spikes’. If you’re looking to stand out from the crowd, look no further.