The best and dopest trainers for techies
These trainers from Adidas Y-3 are going into space on Virgin Galactic (eventually). The others in this list are strictly Earthbound.
We've long had a list of the best running shoes here on T3, and it's one of our most popular features. Most of the shoes in that list are miracles of support and energy-return functionality, but you wouldn't want to be seen dead in them once off the roads and out of your Lycra.
So we figured we'd move into trainers. The sneakers in the following Top 10 take technical elements from their brands' running shoes, use advanced fabrics, but in forms that are far cooler and less eye-aching.
More so than almost any other clothing area, trainers are THE arena where tech and style meet. These are T3's current favourites…
1. Converse Chuck Taylor 2 Hi-tops
The biggest seller of all time, more plimsoll than trainer, this canvas style is as minimal and traditional as athletic footwear gets… But that doesn't mean there’s not room for improvement.
Following Nike’s purchase of Converse, the latter’s old school styles have gained from a make-over, being given a Nike Lunalon insole. Result? For the first time Converse are now wearable all day for those over 20.
From £50 | Buy Converse Chuck Taylor
2. Nike Air Force 1 Ultra Flyknit
One of our favourite trainers of the year so far, this is a perfect slab of retro-futuristic trainer design.
The Air Force 1 has been one of the most beloved of Nike styles since the Bruce Kilgore-designed classic basketball shoe was introduced in 1982. Yes, it’s so classic, we know the name of its designer.
But shootin’ hoops requires being light on your feet. So this latest version is made of Nike’s woven Flyknit material, making it weigh half the 80s original. More to the point, the classic shape and ultra-modern materials make it the most comfortable Air Force 1 ever, and a cutting-edge style icon.
Selling out fast, so buy now.
3. Reebok ZPump Fusion
Anyone of age in the olden days will recall 1989’s launch of the Reebok Pump - a line of shoes with an internal inflation mechanism that regulated the amount of air in the tongue, thus ensuring a constantly snug fit.
Well, a good idea never dies.
Now relaunched, this time the pump is also structureless and unobtrusive when deflated, so you can puff them out as much or as little as you like. The colouring is less subtle.
From £50 | Buy Reebok ZPump Fusion
4. Adidas Spring Blade
If trainers are the one chance to wear something that looks as futuristic as it is, without also making you look like you’re lost on the way to Comi-Con, the Spring Blade is it.
Each sole comprises 16 polymer blade, angled to absorb shock and propel you forward with each step. Meanwhile Techfit mesh keeps the upper firmly in place. Normally this is vital since you’ll be going, like, sooo fast. But in this case it just makes it feel like you're both walking on air, and taller than you really are.
Oh, and if you want to go really fash with a capital FASH on this, try Adidas' regular Spring Blade tie-ups with proper fashion designers - Rick Owens has recently joined Raf Simons in turning the tech into something more catwalk friendly.
5. New Balance Fresh Foam Zante
Okay, so after some wear, Fresh Foam may not smell quite that way anymore. But New Balance’s resurgence as the less obvious trainer brand of choice among fashion followers - move over Stan Smith - doesn’t mean the company is foregoing the smarts.
This sleek aerodynamic style was modeled after studying the foot strikes of very fast runners, and upping the bounce in various parts of the sole unit accordingly. The fluoro colour scheme is as eye-catching as a fish hook.
From £60 | Buy Fresh Foam Zante
6. Swims Luca
This looks more on the old-fashioned side in trainer design terms. Aside, that is, from the fact that the upper is entirely, uncompromisingly red. But hey, red sneaks are dope, yo, and other colours are available.
The brand behind this style is aptly named: the shoe is made from a mesh and synthetic blend. This allows the foot to breath, but also happens to be entirely waterproof, so you can splash about in your Swims, knowing that the rot will not set in.
From £60 | Buy Swims Luca
7. Paul Smith Nastro
In a new world of super-pricey trainers, tech is swapped for lux. So out goes fancypants extruded nylon type materials, and in come high-class, leathery ones.
These unmissable kicks come in buffalino leather, whatever that is, with embossed rubber cup-soles and a longer-lasting side-stitched sole. You probably won’t want to move much at all in these for fear of creasing their pristine lavishness, so have a servant carry you, when possible.
£280 | Buy Paul Smith Nastro
8. Puma Trinomic Disc Blaze
There is something very NASA about these sneakers - if Alan Shepard had, say, played basketball on the moon, rather than golf, these are the shoes that would have gone well with his spacesuit. They work for ground-huggers too, though.
A relaunch of tech first unveiled in 1992, the Blaze comes with Puma’s disc closure system. No more laces - just dial your shoes up to tighten or loosen accordingly. Good for techies and small children alike.
From £60 | Buy Puma Trinomic Blaze
9. Vans Nintendo Duck Hunt
Vans x Nintendo should be right up our street, but most of the designs are eye-bleedingly loud and cutesey. Great for girls and kids, but maybe not something to pair with Paul Smith jeans.
The exception is this paramilitary homage to NIntendo's Duck Hunt light gun shooter. This could be any classic low-rise Van, bedecked as it is in cool camo, but the relatively subtle nod to the game it salutes is there for those in the know.
From £46 | Buy Vans Nintendo
10. Nikelab Gyakusou LunarEpic
Is it a shoe or a sock? Neither: it’s a shock!
Hailing from Nike’s experimental division, and created by the founder of the influential Japanese Undercover label, this remake of the LunaEpic is an exercise in just how much cleverness you can pack around a foot. The upper is practically seamless. Laser-cut pods on the sole help distribute impact. And so on.
But the sock bit? That is devised to make the shoe feel like a natural extension of the leg, so you’re only aware of the cushioning under your foot.
From £130 | Buy Nikelab Gyajusou LunarEpic
11. Norman Walsh LA84
Norman Walsh is the only brand still making trainers in the UK, despite what the Union flag on Reeboks and the name British Knights might suggest.
This pair recalls the LA Olympics of 84, when the Games began their transformation into a corrupt money-go-round, largely competed in by steroid-addled cheats. So that's nice.
However, the classic shape, use of brushed nylon and suede, and vibrant colour scheme all help us forget that seamier side of sport.
And apparently, this was actually designed as "a multi-purpose road running and training shoe for the members of the British Olympic Team," that very year. Er, okay. Well, it was the 80s…
£115 | Buy Norman Walsh LA84