Black sneakers are quite possibly the best footwear investment a man can make. How so? Black sneakers can be paired with pretty much anything, they lend themselves to the colder seasons of the year (far better than their white sneakers counterpart) and are perfect for pairing with evening wear such as black jeans or chinos when hitting the town.
Black sneakers are the perfect accessory for luxe streetwear outfits too or anything that involves a leather jacket, and because they’re so dark, you could even get away with wearing them to more formal occasions (just don’t come blaming us if you’re caught out and ejected).
So where do you start in the game of black sneakers? Figuring out the occasion. Skate style black sneakers are best paired with casual gear like t-shirts, jeans and shorts. Black sneakers of the leather variety are best suited to more smart-casual looks which employ trousers, chinos and fitted shorts. Black running shoes meanwhile play best in the streetwear space, or naturally, at the gym.
If you know the occasion you’re buying for, then we’re happy to let you loose into the world of black sneaker shopping. But to give you a helping hand, we’ve put together this list of some of the best pairs of men’s black sneakers currently available, covering a variety of materials, styles and budgets.
Brazilian shoe maker Cariuma was founded with a mission to create incredibly comfortable sneakers that not only look good on you, but make a world of difference to the environment. Designs are chosen to remain timeless, so you’ll never feel the need to replace them and all sneakers are made in ethical factories. And with professional surfers such as Italo Ferreira and Jamie O’Brien onboard, you can be assured Cariuma’s shoes pass the cool test.
The IBI sneaker is knitted from self-regenerating bamboo and recycled plastics are used from heel to toe. The result is a super comfortable black sneaker that is incredibly lightweight and completely vegan. They’re remarkably good looking and are available in black and white or all black, along with numerous other colours.
Created to fill a gap of versatility present within the men’s sneaker market, Tropicfeel are dedicated to creating travel gear that is lightweight and sustainable, and above all can be worn for almost any and every situation or adventure.
The Canyon is an all-terrain sneaker, in every sense of the phrase; it’s waterproof and features the same benefits seen on aqua shoes, sports shoes, and hiking boots, all in one black sneaker. Did we mention it’s also incredibly stylish? Well, it is. Say hello to ultimate style, function, and comfort.
New Zealand-based Allbirds is one that was founded with the sole (no pun intended) aim of developing new fabrics that are good for the earth, but ones that can perform at the highest level. The company has managed that feat already, and says its use in its shoes make them the “world’s most comfortable”.
That’s certainly the claim said of the Tree Runner, a running-focused sneaker that can be worn everyday, and one that has been put through hours upon hours of testing. The knitted upper is one piece and made from a material derived from eucalyptus trees, resulting in one that is breathable, lightweight and totally flexible. You get an unbelievable amount of cushioning too, so your feet will be well-supported with every step and stride, and we actually think the triple black sneaker is rather good looking. It might not have the same big-brand appeal as some others on this list, but for outright function and comfort, you can’t do much better.
American footwear brand Casca was founded with the intention to create a pair of shoes that could facilitate multiple uses: long walks and hikes, weekend looks, and even boardroom meetings. The brand also puts a focus on the fact each and every one of us has unique feet, so came up with FootB3D as a way to create customised insoles that perfectly fit your dimensions.
The Avro Knit’s knit fabric allows them to feel like a sock and for you to slip into them like one. They’re breathable too, to prevent a build-up of sweat and moisture and come with a thicker insole than most other pairs as standard. You can upgrade to the FootB3D insoles for an extra fee. Available in all-black or black and white, they’re a handsome, comfortable and capable pair of men’s black sneakers.
If you’re a regular reader of DMARGE, you’ll know we’re big fans of Oliver Cabell. The British-based brand continuously churns out incredibly well-made shoes in designs you’ll really want to wear. It firmly slots into the luxury footwear market, but it doesn’t give its shoes the sort of luxury price tag you may find with other brands. And for that, we love it.
The Low 1 in their Jet Black finish are an incredibly good-looking pair of black sneakers, with gold Oliver Cabell branding on the tongue and heel to give them an added sense of luxury and purpose. They’re hand-stitched in Italy, the same place that the leather used in their construction is sourced from, while the outer Margom sole is more than up to the task of lasting for several wears.
The Forever Sneaker
Everlane is a brand for the modern-day thinker. With sustainability, ethical production and transparent pricing being the main points it stands for, it’s a brand you need to add to your regular shopping destinations. Every single product on Everlane’s website shows you how much went into making it, so you can see how much of a profit it makes and how much you could expect to pay at rival retailers. Fortunately, it’s clothing and footwear is of top-quality, so start stocking up.
The Forever Sneaker rocks a more casual design compared to some other pairs on this list, but one that is downright handsome. Its cotton canvas upper is made with 50% recycled cotton, while the sole is made from a blend of both natural and recycled rubber that is virtually free of virgin plastic. Looking for a simple, fuss-free pair of black sneakers? Look no further.
Sportswear brand Champion might not be the first you think of when deciding on a new pair of black sneakers, but this pair of Future Relay shoes expertly combine retro looks with modern technologies, to provide a sneaker that is supremely comfortable all day long. Strategically placed webbed sides allow for air to flow through, so not only will your feet remain comfy all day, but moisture-free too.
British footwear brand Grenson isn’t just known for its eclectic range of boots, but it is also a dab hand at producing some incredibly stylish sneakers. Don’t expect the quality to suffer though, as Grenson puts just as much attention into materials and production to provide you with sneakers that will last a lifetime.
The Sneaker 1 is undoubtedly one of Grenson’s most stylish designs, helped by the fact it’s offered in a variety of materials and colours. We’re simply gaga for the black suede version, which takes slight inspiration from tennis shoes of yesteryear and pairs it with a white rubber cup sole that makes them undeniably cool.
Veja is a footwear brand that hails from France that has become increasingly popular since it was founded in 2013. Its secret? Shoes made from organic cotton and sustainably-sourced rubber. Veja introduced its environmentally-friendly shoes at the right time, when consumers were becoming more conscious about where their fashion was coming from.
The Campo black sneakers rock a classic low-top silhouette that lends them to being worn with both casual and formal outfits. Made from ChromeFree full-grain leather, which means it comes from cows that are fed native vegetation, and a lining made from organic cotton, they do good and look good at the same time.
British-based footwear brand Clarks isn’t just for school children and pensioners. The brand does, in fact, cater to the well-dressed modern gent, with a broad range of sneakers and dress shoes – not to mention its incredibly popular desert boots. For the perfect combination of style, quality and durability, Clarks is a brand you should add to your shopping list.
The Un Costa Tie are a surprisingly handsome pair of low top black leather sneakers that adopt an incredibly similar silhouette to many other pairs on this list, but don’t come with the same sort of price tag. They’re beyond affordable, yet are made genuine leather and offer supreme comfort thanks to an unstructured fit, meaning you can simply slide them on.
Chuck Taylor All Star
American brand Converse is easily one of the best-known names in footwear. It was founded in 1908 and originally started out making footwear for the military before expanding into athletic shoes, where it became the number one brand for court shoes.
Converse’s most famous model is without doubt the All Star, in both high and low form. We’ve chosen the high-tops , not only for their absolute iconic silhouette, but because they provide a greater surface area for the black colour-way. Popular with people from all walks of life and with all manner of interests and hobbies, the All Star High maintain their “ain’t broke, don’t fix” attitude to design. Capable of being styled down with a casual outfit or, owing to their all-black nature, you can even get away with wearing them for more formal events.
An essential pair of black sneakers for men to invest in.
Another skateboarding brand, this time Vans. Ever since its founding in 1966, Vans has been at the forefront of skate culture and started life primarily as a footwear company, before eventually expanding into a complete range of apparel and accessories. Today, you’ll be hard pushed to not see several pairs of the Old Skool shoe on the feet of people you pass.
It’s with that in mind that we had to select the all-black Old Skool as the pair to get. Retaining their iconic design ever since their introduced in 1977, the Old Skool is both durable and lightweight, with an extra-grippy rubber sole for ultimate traction. Finished in canvas but with suede on both the heel and toe, the Old Skool is a black sneaker that will never go out of fashion.
American footwear brand Koio takes heavy inspiration from European style. The company’s sneakers are handmade in the Marche region of Italy, the same place where many other luxury brands source their materials from, so you can rest easy knowing that the pair you buy has been made with careful craftsmanship. Koio does have a small selection of high-top sneakers that are worth checking out, but we think the low-tops are the ones you should be paying real attention to.
Such as this pair of Capri sneakers, finished in charcoal. You can have them in a deeper, all-black finish, but we feel this charcoal pair offers a more indie look and one that can accentuate any casual outfit. They’re made from Italian nubuck leather and fitted with a Margom sole.
Star Dribble Classic
Novesta may be a footwear brand you haven’t heard of before, but the company, founded in Slovakia in 1939 is still committed to producing handmade shoes from sustainably-sourced and recycled materials. Novesta shoes are known for their chunky, vulcanised soles, a sign of true durability.
Those soles can be found on the Star Dribble sneaker. With a design not too dissimilar to Converse, the Star Dribble certainly take inspiration from classic basketball footwear. With a canvas upper and that all-important recycled rubber sole finished in all black for a premium, yet minimal look.
Full-grain leather can lend itself to being wipe-clean and water-repellant, but for true all-weather protection for your feet, look to North 89. The Swedish brand crafts its sneakers in Portugal for high-quality results and uses weatherproof materials – no doubt inspired by the ever-changing conditions of its native Scandinavia.
The No-1 sneaker is such a product, being made from a waterproof canvas for the upper and making use of a rubber Margom sole to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground when conditions worsen. The insole is made from a memory foam for soft cushioning and to mould to your feet, and is treated with antibacterial technology to keep them smelling fresher for longer.
We could have easily opted for the regular Nike brand here, but we decided to choose Nike SB instead for its ability to produce shoes that easily worn by non-skaters, as well as the board-shredding elite.
Take the Air Max Stefan Janoski 2. They’re the perfect hybrid of Nike brands, taking the super-soft cushioning of Nike’s iconic Air technology, and marrying it with an ultralight upper with skateboard culture-inspired looks, to give an effortlessly cool and comfortable black sneaker.
Portugese brand Jak is one that values customer experience above all else. To this degree, its shoes are designed to be worn and to last, instead of having outlandish branding to let someone know who you’re wearing. It’s a big fan of full-grain leather, which it sources from local suppliers to ensure you only receive the very highest quality of product.
The NZ Royal sneakers are about as minimal as you can get with an exceptionally clean silhouette with a slight hint of branding on the right heel. They’re made from calf leather both inside and out for the ultimate in comfort and feature a shockproof inner sole to keep them feeling comfortable for longer. For a pair of minimal black sneakers that are comfortably affordable, you can’t pass on Jak.
Of course, you may not always need a pair of black sneakers for pairing with everyday outfits, as you need to look good in the gym too. Fortunately, German sportswear giant Adidas knows a thing or two about high-performance footwear that looks good too.
Case in point, the Ultra Boost 21. Benefitting from the company’s forward-thinking boost technology, which helps cushion each stride and propel you forward, the Ultra Boost also get a Primeknit upper to hug your feet like socks. Finished in mostly all black with red accents, they’re super stealthy and can easily be paired with any style of gym kit you can imagine.
Axel Arigato is a Swedish brand that has made it its mission to offer consumers high-end luxury footwear but without the luxury price tag. It started life as a purely online model, releasing a new shoe style each week after launching in 2014, but after experiencing serious growth, has since opened a few physical stores, including a flagship in London.
The Clean 90 has remained a staple in its sneaker lineup ever since its founding and it’s easy to see why. Sporting the classic low top silhouette that is a cinch to pair with practically any outfit, the Clean 90 show off some of the best leather Italy has to offer, and the finest Portuguese craftsmanship. Its contrasting rubber cupsole lends it to being more streetwear focused, while subtle design choices such as a contrasting heel piece give them a premium look that belies their price. They’re one of our absolute favourite pairs of black sneakers for men by far.
Original Achilles Low
No list of best sneaker brands (at least, those that feature on DMARGE) would be complete without Common Projects. The luxury footwear brand produces all of its shoes in the Marche region of Italy (the same place a lot of high-end sneaker brands source their leather) where they are stitched by hand. Perhaps the best-known champion of the minimalist white sneaker, Common Projects has an extensive footwear range that covers boots too, and its Chelsea boots are well worth checking out.
The Original Achilles Low is easily the most iconic pair in Common Projects’ repertoire, thanks to its completely clean silhouette, save from the numbers on the heel which relate to the style, colour and size. A high price they may demand, but for outright quality, we think they’re worth every dollar.
If it’s serious luxury you’re after, look no further than Saint Laurent. The French high-end fashion label is one of the most well-known around the world thanks to its high-quality wares that are beautifully made. Not to mention its continuous devotion to on-trend and forward-looking designs.
For paired-back classic style, Saint Laurent’s Court Classic SL/10 sneakers are ideal. They take a classic low silhouette and give it a typically French makeover, using perforated black calfskin leather with a touch of suede on the toe for that extra sense of premium luxury, while gold Saint Laurent branding on the side lets others know you’re better than them.
Neven Low Eco-suede
A relatively new brand, Yatay was launched in 2018, and it aimed to merge the best Made-in-Italy quality with the most advanced green fashion technology to create timeless, comfortable, and sustainable sneakers. Environmentally conscious and with a green soul, the mission of Yatay is to prove that uncompromised quality can be achieved without sacrificing sustainability.
The Neven Low Eco suede comes in a classic black, and is made with a vegan suede that’s much more breathable than normal leather and prevents sweaty feet. Extremely comfortable, you’ll be the King of cool rocking these eco-friendly sneakers.