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Photo courtesy of Anouk Yve Bos

The Something-for-Everyone Sneaker Guide

Twenty-eight options for every style, sensibility, and setting. And the stories behind the rise of the fashion sneaker, the color of the original Air Jordan 1, the brands moving toward sustainability, the first celebrity-endorsed sneaker, and what’s happened since the 1982 appearance of the dad sneaker. Plus, advice from our fashion director on how to wear jeans and sneakers in a nondweeby way.

THE SUSTAINABLE SNEAKER

  1. In an industry notorious for pollution, underpaid labor, and virtue signaling, French-founded sneaker brand Veja makes every effort to do things right. Veja doesn’t just use environmentally conscious materials, like certified-organic cotton and responsibly sourced Amazonian rubber. It also purchases those materials directly from farmers, paying above-market prices and, in some cases, even prefinancing harvests up to 40 percent. And the brand is committed to transparency, conducting comprehensive carbon studies and publicly sharing the results. In short: Veja’s sustainability efforts are V impressive.

  2. Veja nova ht sneakers goop, $120
    Veja nova ht sneakers goop, $120
    SHOP NOW

FASHION’S TAKE

  1. As part of its new sustainability project, Open for a Change, Valentino recently unveiled eco-minded versions of its Open and Rockstud Untitled sneakers, which are made with some biobased materials and with recycled polyester laces.

    Valentino open for a change sneaker Valentino, $690
    Valentino open for a change sneakers Valentino, $690
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  2. In 2018, Gucci launched its Scrap-less initiative, which aims to reduce the impact of its leather collections. In just three years, the label decreased the amount of leather scraps created during production by over 137 tons.

    Gucci ace sneaker Net-a-Porter, $690
    Gucci ace sneakers Net-a-Porter, $690
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  3. With Gabriela Hearst at the helm, Chloé has done an impressive job of increasing its use of lower-impact materials. Forty percent of this sneaker’s weight is recycled material, including the hand-stitched mesh and the EVA midsole.

    Chloe nama sneaker Chloe, $725
    Chloé nama sneakers Chloé, $725
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THE DAD SNEAKER

  1. New Balance basically fathered this trend (sorry) with its now-iconic 990 series, which originally launched in 1982. This particular model, the 990v5, has the kind of comfort-centric design and unpretentious aesthetic that any man over fifty would appreciate. And while they’re engineered for running (the ENCAP midsole cushions your every step), they work just as well in nonworkout settings—say, styled with a well-cut pair of straight-leg jeans.

  2. New Balance 990 v5 core sneaker New Balance, $185
    New Balance 990v5 core sneakers New Balance, $185
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NOTEWORTHY COLLABS

  1. Fashion-set favorite Staud puts its playful spin on these 57/40s with translucent panels and Lego-like pops of color.

    Staud x New Balance 57/40 sneakers Net-a-Porter, $150
    Staud x New Balance 57/40 sneakers Net-a-Porter, $150
    SHOP NOW
  2. Miu Miu reinterpreted the 574s for its spring-summer 2022 show. In white denim with raw-cut edges, it’s a fresh take on a retro silhouette.

    New Balance x Miu Miu 574 denim sneakers Miu Miu, $695
    New Balance x Miu Miu 574 denim sneakers Miu Miu, $695
    SHOP NOW
  3. These vintage-looking 550s designed with pre-yellowed soles are courtesy of Aimé Leon Dore: your coolest friend’s go-to streetwear brand.

    New Balance x Aimé Leon Dore' p550 sneakers Farfetch, $520
    New Balance x Aimé Leon Dore p550 sneakers Farfetch, $520
    SHOP NOW

THE FASHION SNEAKER

  1. Only a year after the release of its notable sock sneaker, Balenciaga changed the shoe landscape once again for fall-winter 2017. Heavily padded and inherently polarizing, the Triple S was a complete departure from the sleek standard the sock sneaker had set, splicing together three different shoes—running, basketball, and track (hence the name)—to form a chunky, culture-shifting shape lusted after by fashion editors and sneakerheads alike. Fast-forward five years and the superstacked silhouette is still kicking.

  2. Balenciaga triple s sneaker Balenciaga, $995
    Balenciaga triple s sneakers Balenciaga, $995
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BULK UP

  1. The Hacker Project by Gucci’s Alessandro Michele fuses the design codes of two luxury fashion houses to form hybrid creations like this monogrammed Triple S—which promptly sold out and has since become something of a collector’s item.

    Gucci x Balenciaga hacker project triple s sneaker Gucci, $1,290
    Gucci x Balenciaga hacker project triple s sneakers Gucci, $1,290
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  2. Louis Vuitton’s futuristic take, which debuted for spring-summer 2018, features a wave-shaped outsole and extra-tall tongue. It has a lower cut around the ankle, which, along with the monogrammed trim and classic flower motifs, gives it a distinctly more feminine look.

    Louis Vuitton archlight sneaker Louis Vuitton, $1,300
    Louis Vuitton archlight sneakers Louis Vuitton, $1,300
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  3. The sequel to the ultrapopular Triple S, Balenciaga’s Track sneaker borrows visually from traditional trail runners and hiking boots, which is evident in the breathable mesh upper, elaborate rubber paneling, lug soles, and cord laces.

    Balenciaga track sneaker Balenciaga, $1,050
    Balenciaga track sneakers Balenciaga, $1,050
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THE EVERYDAY SNEAKER

  1. A mini history lesson for you: In 1963, Adidas produced its first leather sneaker. It was exceedingly simple, done in all white with perforations where the signature stripes should have been, and it was named after the French tennis player Robert Haillet. It wasn’t until over a decade later, when Haillet retired, that Adidas officially renamed the style after American player Stan Smith and the shoe gained traction in the US market.

    The now-ubiquitous sneakers have been worn by everyone from Jay-Z to Phoebe Philo, who was routinely spotted in them at Céline shows during her tenure as creative director. And for good reason(s): They’re clean, they’re classic, and—best of all—they go with everything in your closet.

  2. Adidas stan smith Adidas, $95
    Adidas stan smith Adidas, $95
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SAME BUT DIFFERENT

  1. While the round toe, perforated details, and colorful heel tab make these aesthetically similar to Stan Smiths, Alexander McQueen’s signature sneaker features a pumped-up sole, giving the wearer a not-insignificant height boost.

    Alexaner McQueen oversized sneaker Alexander McQueen, $580
    Alexaner McQueen oversized sneakers Alexander McQueen, $580
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  2. Ever the innovators, Veja uses ChromeFree leather—tanned using a water- and energy-efficient process—and a blend of sustainably sourced rubber, recycled rubber, and rice waste to create its characteristically eco-minded version of this streamlined style.

    Veja campo sneakers goop, $155
    Veja campo sneakers goop, $155
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  3. In our logo-obsessed culture, Common Projects is a breath of fresh air. Save for the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gold-foil serial number stamped on the outer ankle, these sleek Italian-made shoes are a study in minimalism.

    Common Projects retro sneakers Bergdorf Goodman, $465
    Common Projects retro sneakers Bergdorf Goodman, $465
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THE ICONIC SNEAKER

  1. The Air Jordan 1 is easily the most famous style in this roundup: Even those who claim to know nothing about sneaker culture will recognize the silhouette. It debuted in 1985, after a struggling Nike inked a five-year contract with then-rookie Michael Jordan. The shoe was red, white, and black, to match Jordan’s Chicago Bulls jersey (a wild choice because at the time, every other player in the league wore all-white sneakers—an NBA rule). Legend has it that the NBA banned the shoe and fined Jordan $5,000 every time he played in them. Nike footed the bill—a small price to pay for publicity—and the rest, as they say, is history.

  2. Nike air jordan 1 Flight Club, $210
    Nike air jordan 1 Flight Club, $210
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YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE…

  1. The Blazers predated the AJ1s by a little over a decade, which is reflected in the slimmer, less-bulky profile that was popular in the ’70s.

    Nike blazer Nike, $100
    Nike blazer Nike, $100
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  2. If you want the Jordan look but don’t love a high-top, Dunk Lows have a similar aesthetic (both styles were designed by Peter Moore) but with an ankle-revealing cut.

    Nike dunk Goat, from $222
    Nike dunk Goat, from $222
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  3. The Cortez—with its bullet-like shape and patriotic palette—has been a pop-culture favorite since its release (think Farrah Fawcett, Forrest Gump).

    Nike cortez Goat, from $59
    Nike cortez Goat, from $59
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THE WORKOUT SNEAKER

  1. If you haven’t heard of On, allow us to introduce you to the fastest-growing running-shoe company in the world—and the featherweight trainers favored by Olympians. What makes these shoes different: the easy-entry lacing system, the minimalist design, and the fact that those antimicrobial mesh uppers feel fresh even after a whole hour of Tracy Anderson. But what makes them outstanding are the CloudTec soles, which provide an insanely smooth, even step. Reinforced with signature grippiness on the bottom, this classic pair is fit for just about any activity: intense runs, leisurely hikes, dance cardio, treadmill climbs—you name it.

  2. ON cloud sneaker goop, $130
    On the cloud sneakers goop, $130
    SHOP NOW

GYM BUDDIES

  1. The most eco-friendly option of the bunch, these undyed Ultraboosts feature an upper made of recycled ocean plastic and a springy rubber sole that’ll take your burpees to the next level.

    Adidas by Stella McCartney ultraboost 20 no dye goop, $230
    Adidas by Stella McCartney ultraboost 20 no dye goop, $230
    SHOP NOW
  2. These Hokas have a plush memory-foam collar designed to conform to the shape of your heel, cushioning your ankle and Achilles tendon to provide soft, snug support.

    Hoka bondi 7 Hoka, $160
    Hoka bondi 7 Hoka, $160
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  3. We’re very into this cool high-top profile with a socklike construction and sleek red accents. Surprisingly lightweight, it’s ideal for everything from morning runs to grocery runs.

    Adidas by Stella McCartney ultraboost 21 goop, $230
    Adidas by Stella McCartney ultraboost 21 goop, $230
    SHOP NOW

THE HIGH-TOPS

  1. In their eighty-something-year history, Converse All Stars have been many things: the first-ever celebrity-endorsed sneaker (Chuck Taylor’s signature is still on the ankle patch), the official shoe of both the 1936 US Olympic men’s basketball team and the American armed forces during World War II (talk about range!), and a favorite style of entire musical subcultures, from punk rockers to grunge kids.

    We particularly love the Chuck 70s: a revitalization of the classic retro design, made of a slightly more-substantial-feeling canvas with yellow-tinted soles reminiscent of aged rubber.

  2. Converse chuck 70 Converse, $85
    Converse chuck 70 Converse, $85
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TALL ORDER

  1. These hunter-green high-tops make it easy to add a pop of color to any neutral look: jeans and a white tee, tailored suiting, or even a simple black slip dress.

    Veja nova ht sneaker goop, $120
    Veja nova ht sneakers goop, $120
    SHOP NOW
  2. We envision these detail-heavy sneakers—the embroidery! the trim! the reeded rubber soles!—with a chic, head-to-toe look in the same creamy color palette.

    Loewe high top sneaker Loewe, $690
    Loewe high-top sneakers Loewe, $690
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  3. Deep cut, but these are the shoes GP wore to record her return episode of Armchair Expert (Dax points them out immediately). In case you were wondering.

    JW Anderson high top sneaker Net-a-Porter, $395
    JW Anderson high-top sneakers Net-a-Porter, $395
    SHOP NOW

Ask Ali

Q

How to wear jeans and sneakers in a nondweeby way?

A

First things first: Go for well-fitting wide-leg jeans. This ivory pair from our G. Label Core Collection is cool and of-the-moment but still feels very classic. When you’re standing, the hem should skim the top of your foot without pooling so that your shoe just barely peeks out. (You can check this by turning to the side in front of a full-length mirror; your outside seam should be straight all way down.) I styled these on GP with a slim, retro-looking sneaker—shop similar ones here and here. These tips also work for flared jeans and baggy straight-leg jeans, so wear what works best for you!

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We hope you enjoy the products recommended here. Our goal is to suggest only things we love and think you might, as well. We also like transparency, so, full disclosure: We may collect a share of sales or other compensation if you purchase through the external links on this page.