Attitudes have shifted in unforeseen ways and what was once the scruffy outlier is now the footwear gold standard.
Still the most recognizable. Still the most wanted. Still, the ones to beat.
Yeah, in 2016 Nike really did go back to the future and produced Marty McFly’s self-lacing sneakers.
But this is just one instance when the brand seemingly reached through a tear in spacetime and brought us something directly from the future, making it the biggest trendsetter in sneakers and a reliable barometer for what’s around the corner.
In recent years the brand’s R&D lab has become the sneaker world’s Q branch.
Ask any sneakerhead on the street who’s in pole position, and they’ll tell you it’s Nike. However, with featherlight materials and mind-bending sole technology, it could be easily argued that good old three-stripes is maneuvering for an overtake.
Established in 1949, Adidas has become a global phenomenon led by science.
Forget the Yeezy collab, it was the Ultra Boost that changed the game, and most recently, the German sports giant has been experimenting with 3D printing as a production method for groundbreaking webbed sole units. Don’t take your eyes off them for a second.
It’s a real triumph of design when something introduced a century ago is still being used globally today.
Converse’s famous high-top, the Chuck Taylor All Star, is one such item.
Born in 1917, the iconic basketball shoe has remained 99.9 percent unchanged and is now the best-selling shoe in the US, UK, and far beyond.
Yes, this sneaker brand has other excellent shoes, like the Run Star Motion and the Chuck 70s, but this is arguably the most iconic sneaker ever made.
And what’s more, it’s for everyone.
This was a sneaker created like an Oxford shoe handcrafted in Northamptonshire.
When luxury New York sneaker brand Common Projects first introduced its Achilles Low model in 2004, the menswear world went mad for it. But why? Was it innovative? No. Was it next-level comfortable? Hardly. Did it come in at bargain prices? Quite the opposite.
This shoe was nothing more than a plain, leather sneaker. However, the thing that had the fash pack fawning over this minimalist trainer was that every little detail was meticulously executed to the nth degree.
It arguably started today’s thriving luxury sneaker market, and all of this, in a world now dominated by Balenciaga beetle-crushers, is not to be taken for granted.
One of the best in the game.
As time marches on, there are fewer and fewer brands willing to take a financial bullet in the name of quality craftsmanship and have products manufactured on home turf. When talking about sneaker companies, the numbers are lower still.
Not only is the Bostonian firm responsible for some of the comfiest and most iconic running shoes ever made since 1906, but it also produces its premium range half in the US and half in the UK’s Lake District in factories staffed with highly trained craftspeople.
It’s because of this approach to manufacturing that New Balance has a glowing reputation among athletes, sneakerheads, and just everyday folks.
From their Fresh Foam Beacons to their 608s, the blend of dad style and modern hipster elite is here to stay, thus earning itself a spot in the FashionBeans hall of fame.
It may not make as much noise as some of its contemporaries, but...
While they’re all battling it out trying to come up with the next big thing, Puma has been quietly working away in the background, perfecting the classics, since 1948.
And inventing a few new ones, too.
A prime example of this is the brand’s take on the chunky sneaker trend.
Puma has taken the look, put its own stamp on it, and made it accessible to those whose wallets might not be able to stand up to the strain posed by a luxury pair that cost as much as a month’s rent.
The shoe brand of choice for alternative lifestyles.
Its appeal is due in no small part to the simple styling, timeless appearance, modest pricing, and, of course, plentiful color options offered by its designs.
The Old Skool, Classic and Authentic is all instantly recognizable designs that haven’t changed in decades, mainly because they don’t need to.
The British-born company, now a subsidiary of Adidas, is one of the oldest UK sneaker brands
Okay, so it’s not exactly shaping the future with its footwear offerings, but when you do the classics (and the Classics) this well, why would you need to?
Its best sneakers, like the Club, the Classic, and the Workout are nothing short of iconic and all ooze plenty of that throwback charm we all love so much.
They may not be made of knitted mesh and be 3D printed, but they look great, are undeniably comfortable, and are never going to go out of style.
Can you confidently call yourself a sneakerhead if your wardrobe isn’t filled with Jordans? Perhaps not.
Technically a Nike creation, but still a brand in its own right, the story is one of the most successful examples of sports marketing in history.
After designing the first Air Jordans exclusively for the basketball legend himself, it wasn’t long before Nike opened up production and brought its new creation to the masses in 1984 — before Jordan himself took over the brand.
People went crazy for it, leading to a wave of crime in the US that led to people being robbed of their sneakers.
The sleek, minimalist speed sock was the label’s first standout sneaker with Gvasalia at the helm, which led the way to a few running sneakers from this luxury fashion house.
Balenciaga’s output under the guidance of Georgian fashion maverick Demna Gvasalia may be the sartorial equivalent of Marmite or Björk, but whatever you think of his work, there’s no denying he’s changing the face of fashion, one broken ankle at a time.
it was the now-inescapable Triple S that really took things in a new direction.
This beast of a shoe single-handedly remodeled the fashion footwear landscape and made big, chunky silhouettes the new gold standard.
Minimalism is giving way to maximalism, and this Spanish fashion house is at the center of it all.