6 essential sneaker styles every man should own

Looking to start a crep collection? This is the best place to start

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Choosing the right sneakers can have a dramatic effect on your style. Knowing the various sneaker silhouettes, how they’re worn and what’s on or off-trend takes an investment of time, not to mention on-foot wear to decide your personal preferences.

To make the process easier for you, we’ve rounded up six sneaker styles that every man should own. Whether your rotation is already loaded or you’re looking to expand, read below to to find out which sneakers you should be copping next.

1. White tennis shoes

As far as must-have sneakers go, the white tennis shoe is about as classic as they come. If you’ve never owned a pair, then look no further than Adidas’s Stan Smith for what the archetypal tennis shoe looks like.

Looking at the design, the tennis shoe features a flat sole and lean upper to make it comfortable while shuffling quickly around the court. They’re light, comfortable and their all-white finish will add a highlight to your ‘fit. This is also one of the few instances in which a sneaker also looks great with a suit, as well as a pair of jeans, whether for flexing at work or formal occasions.

But being white shortens the lifespan of these kicks, even with careful cleaning. But the great thing here is that tennis shoes are affordable. You can find them for well under £100 without trying too hard, so there’s no reason to own only one pair.

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2. Trainers

Trainers, runners or just sneakers – whatever you call them, the humble athletic shoe has become a marker of style more than ever before. Sneakers are not only an accessible fashion item, they’re one of the most comfortable shoes you’ll ever wear.

The popularity of sneakers is greater than it’s ever been, drawing interest from both designers big and small, along with an ever-growing spectrum of situations we’re finding ourselves wearing them in. Trainers will never again be just a gym shoe. 

‘Athleisure’ models from big brands include the Vapormax and Air Max 97 from Nike, while Adidas has the Ultra Boost and the NMD. While these are built for performance, you’d probably prefer to wear these out rather than bash them around on a treadmill. What you should look for is a performance sole paired with a comfortable, breathable upper, preferably made from a knitted fabric.

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3. Basketball shoes

Whether you play ball or not, basketball shoes are an essential addition to any guy’s collection. While their performance on the court is arguably more important than how they look, here you’ll be more interested in the latter when it comes to style.

Basketball shoes have been both performance footwear and a fashion item for decades, all the way back to the early days of high-top Chuck Taylors. But it’s hard to pass up Air Jordans as you scour the internet for the most hyped kicks, with the classic Air Jordan 1 being, even today, the preeminent streetwear sneaker.

Nike and Adidas have plenty of models to choose from, and if you can’t find what you’re looking for Air Jordan archives – the IV or the VI, among many others, have cult fanbases – then contemporary models branded for star players LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and the rest all feature the latest tech and look the part, too.

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4. Fashion sneakers

While many sneakers can be fashionable, not all are fashion sneakers. But what qualifies as one exactly? Many silhouettes have been worked on by fashion designers, often through collaborations, who add their unique touch to popular silhouettes. Think of Virgil Abloh’s reimagining of classic Nike silhouettes in last year’s collab.

Shopping for fashion sneakers is an opportunity for you to flex your personal style to make a statement. Hyped silhouettes, exorbitant prices and retail exclusivity are often part of the game, so spend time doing research on sites like StockX to get an idea of what fair resale prices are. But amidst all the hype train noise, don’t forget to select sneakers that match your wardrobe. It’s easy to buy what’s hyped now, before it’s old news next month.

Some of the big names in the fashion sneaker game are Balenciaga, Comme des Garçons, Supreme, Raf Simons, Off-White and Vetements. There are plenty more worth mentioning, although just the collaborations alone that these brands have released with big names like Nike and Adidas will keep your feet fresh well into next season.

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5. All-black sneakers

There are a few reasons you should always have black sneakers in your rotation. Firstly, black won’t become worn and dirty as quickly as white does, meaning they always look better for longer and with less effort. Secondly, black goes with everything.

Depending on the dress code, you can get away with wearing black sneakers to work. Going for a minimal low-top will tick the boxes in most cases and is also relatively easy to match with jeans, chinos or a collared shirt.

The subtle, understated styling of a black sneaker is also worth the investment. If you’re already someone who wears a lot of black, now’s the time to stock up. But even if you’re more into mixing colours, it’s still a good idea to stock up. You can never have too many black kicks.

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6. The plimsoll

The plimsoll shoe has a rubber sole paired with a soft canvas upper. High on comfort and affordability, variants like the Chuck Taylor or Vans Old Skool are classic plimsolls that should be in your collection if they’re not already.

The laceless version of a plimsoll is a slip-on, which is as equally worth copping should you prefer to ditch the laces. Not only are they an easy throw-on, they look great with trousers or shorts and are incredibly versatile.

Shop plimsoll shoes here: