I test running shoes for a living, so I come across a lot of trainers, at least a lot more than an average person, who probably buys a pair once every other year, tops. This might be why I don't always get super excited when I have new shoes delivered. Unless it's a Hoka, the fine purveyor of the sexiest running shoes, in which case I almost always rip the box open to see what's inside.
Don't get me wrong; many of the best running shoes from different brands are equally handsome as Hoka's kicks. Nike is seriously good at making its running shoes look good enough to get even sneakerheads excited about the latest Nike running shoe releases – just look at the Nike Air ZoomX Alphafly NEXT% 2 Proto that sold out instantly after it was released. The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 isn't an eyesore either.
Adidas trainers are equally as popular as Nike's. I can't remember the last time I didn't like the way a new pair of Adidas trainers looked. The Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 might not be to everyone's taste, but I'm sure no one would turn down a pair of Adidas Solarglide 5 if they were offered a pair. Not to mention the Adidas 4DFWD!
ASICS has some of the most good-looking shoes in recent times – the ASICS METASPEED EDGE+ comes to mind – but the Japanese brand also has running shoes that no one will ever get excited about apart from runners and dads, such as the ASICS Gel-Nimbus 24.
Saucony is a bit of hit-and-miss. The best Saucony shoes include stuff like the Saucony Peregrine 12, which, don't get me wrong, isn't a complete mess in terms of looks, but it's not too sexy either. The latest Endorphin drop, though, which includes the brilliant Saucony Endorphin Speed 3, is on the right track to becoming the brightest running shoe collection of the year (see also: pretty in pink).
On Running went from total obscurity to being one of the most sought-after sports brands recently, thanks to their efforts to tap into the sneaker market with their new shoes. And indeed, the On Cloudmonster is as sexy as it is comfortable to wear! However, On needs to work on differentiating their shoes from each other, which might be a tall order, considering how the sole looks on all of their shoes.
Under Armour's shoes are... quite something. Some of their daily trainers look rather chunky, while their lighter racers, such as the wonderfully light Under Armour flow Velociti Wind 2, have a look that might not be up everyone's street. Some of the more colourful variations are worth a look, though.
Brooks is the ultimate 'dad shoes' brand; at least it used to be. Nowadays, the brand's max-cushioned shoes, such as the Caldera 6, are starting to look more attractive, but there is definitely room for improvement here. Let's not forget about the Brooks Aurora-BL, though!
Now, New Balance is not a terrible option. NB has a strong sneaker game, and some of its running shoes look pretty cool: just look at the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12. On the other hand, the New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 look like dad shoes. You win some; you lose some.
And then there is Hoka! The brand that's yet to produce running shoes that don't look amazing. I remember the OG Hoka Carbon X and how much I loved the look of those shoes; the Hoka Kawana from earlier this year with its clear aesthetics, and who can forget the fan-favourite Hoka Mach 4 or the quirky Hoka TenNine Hike GTX!? All instantly recognisable shoes, yet different on their own terms.
And Hoka shows no signs of slowing down; I'm in the process of reviewing the Hoka Mach 5 (quick update: the review is already live!) and the Hoka Bondi 8, both looking super sexy. And as I mentioned in the intro, every time I receive a pair of Hoka's, I can't wait to lay my eyes on the prize and take them out of the box to see them. I hope Hoka will continue to produce the shoes only they can.