While minimal white sneakers may grab the headlines, their darker counterpart black sneakers are just as much of a wardrobe staple for guys everywhere. With white sneakers being the go-to footwear for summer with a pair of chino shorts, black sneakers lend themselves the colder seasons of the year, or to be paired with evening wear such as black jeans or chinos when hitting the town.
They’re 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 your best casual gear like tees, jeans and shorts. Casual black sneakers of the leather variety are best suited to more smart-casual looks which employ trousers, chinos and fitted shorts. Black runners 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 black sneakers currently available, covering a variety of materials, styles and budgets.
That's certainly the claim said of the Tree Dasher, a running-focused shoe that can be worn everyday, and one that has been put through hours upon hours of testing. The knitted upper is one piece of material 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 version 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.
The Lyon sneaker fits into the former camp. Handmade in Portugal, this all-black sneaker utilises genuine leather for the upper and rubber for the sole, which is stitched and glued for longevity. The insole, complete with arch support, is removable should you have orthotic insoles of your own, with subtle branding completing the look.
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.
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.
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.
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
The Court Sneaker rocks a more casual design compared to some other pairs on this list, but one that is downright handsome. Its full-grain leather upper is sourced from a gold-certified tannery, while the sole is made from a blend of both natural and recycled rubber that is virtually free of virgin plastic.
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 shoe style that will never go out of fashion.
The black Campo 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.
The NZ Royal sneakers are about as minimal as you can get with an exceptionally clean silhouette with a slight hint on branding on the right heel. They're made from calf leather both inside and out for the ultimate in comfort and have a shock proof inner sole to keep them feeling comfortable for longer.
The Low 1 in their Jet Black finish are an incredibly good-looking pair of sneakers, with gold Oliver Cabell branding on the tongue and hell 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.
Case in point, the Ultra Boost 20. 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 all black, they're super sealthy and can easily be paired with any style of gym kit you can imagine.
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.
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 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.
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 cupsole that makes them the ultimate in casual cool.
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.
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.
The DBB1 leather sneakers from Lanvin are finished in a pebble grain leather and rock branded eyelet holes – the only branding you'll find on them, unless you look underneath – to present an incredibly minimal, yet well-made (in Portugal) pair of sneakers. If underrated and unexpected fashion brands are your cup of tea, Lanvin is happy to provide.
The Un Costa Lace are a surprisingly handsome pair of 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.
The Ace Watersnake sneaker is a prime example, taking the most classic of low cut sneaker silhouettes and branding it with the iconic red and green colours. You do get some snakeskin on the hell to help justify their price tag and soft black leather to keep your feet well-cushioned. But lets be honest, these are shoes for show, and we all know it.