The Coolest Sneakers Of 2018
From streetwear classics to streamlined designs, we’ve got something for everyone .
During the week, you might be a high-flyer who leads board meetings in a pair of high-shine Church’s Oxfords. Or maybe you are a Viberg boot-loving hotshot in a creative agency. Either way, chances are that by the weekend, you will want to give your responsibility-weary feet some respite with a pair of sneakers. After all, they are the shoe of the everyman, the great sartorial leveller and a cornerstone of casual dressing – as much for downtime as running about.
At least we thought they were. In the throes of the January blues, we were worried that nine near-identical pairs would land on the MR PORTER editorial desk for this edit of the latest offerings. But lucky for us, this lot came along instead, inspired by basketball legends, grunge gods and streetwear staples.
So, whichever direction your style is heading in this spring, we’ve got the right sneakers for you.
The 1990s redux
Fashion’s “20-year rule”, whereby trends have a habit of repeating themselves two decades later, makes right now 1990s 2.0. It makes sense given that the industry’s key influencers – the likes of Gucci’s Mr Alessandro Michele and Balenciaga and Vetements’ Mr Demna Gvsalia – spent their formative years in this era that gave us of grunge, Britpop and trip-hop, dial-up internet and the Sony Discman. Footwear has followed ready to wear as a new wave of Generation X-inspired sneakers have taken the world by storm (although, in truth, Mr Gvsalia might have himself down as a Xennial). Gucci’s Rhyton sneakers, for example, pay homage to the chunky silhouettes of the Nike Air Max and Reebok’s Club C kicks. Built with leather uppers and rubber soles, they have been washed to soften the hide and create a distressed off-white shade. They’ll go with everything from acid-wash jeans to navy tailoring.
The signature slip-ons
We shouldn’t need to point out Bottega Veneta’s signature motif – the woven leather detail known as intrecciato, synonymous with Italian-grade elegance. But who knew you could find it on shoes? Yes, under the creative reign of Mr Tomas Maier – who has now helmed the historic house for more than a decade – even the humble slip-on sneaker has been given an upgrade. A surf and skate classic, co-opted by punks in the 1990s when they needed a break from their Dr Martens boots, the slip-on is now accepted in most of the smartest hotels and restaurants in the world. This pair, in petrol blue, would team well with a charcoal suit, and wouldn’t look out of place on Wall Street now that dress codes are more relaxed.
The heritage high-tops
Despite his disdain for the Boston Celtics when he was growing up, Fear of God’s Mr Jerry Lorenzo – who as a longtime LA resident is more likely to be spotted at Lakers games – couldn’t help but respect the on-court swagger of players like Messrs Larry Bird and Danny Ainge, as they slam dunked their way to glory in black leather lace-up basketball boots. It was this lasting impression that led to the brand’s latest style: a basketball inspired sneaker made with panels of black and white leather on padded collars for a fit you could even call heavenly.
The superhero sneakers
Ms Miuccia Prada used abstract comic book prints and Japanese cartoons as the leitmotif to underpin her sporty and streamlined SS18 collection. So it’s no surprise that the brand’s latest shoe – hyperbolically named Cloudbust – looks like it’s been swiped off the feet of a Manga superhero. Merging lightweight comfort with ergonomic design in techy fabrics, these space-age sneakers are fitted with a bulging sole, spongy upper panels and a Velcro strap most rock climbers would approve of, even if the shoe itself wouldn’t get them very far up the bouldering wall. Wear them with tailored trousers or cropped jeans to offset the turbo-charged statement.
The retro runners
Swedish label Spalwart was founded in 2010 by Messrs Christoffer Brattin and Fredrik Johansson, who, during a factory visit to Slovakia, stumbled across some abandoned machines and shoe moulds that had not been used since the 1950s. It’s these very same moulds that have been employed in their production process to create retro-inspired footwear focused on classic design and quality. The brand’s Marathon Trail sneakers are all terrain. Finished by hand, they have breathable mesh and suede uppers and offer a substantial step up from the Green Flash of old. Wear them with these Mr P. chinos and this cord shirt for some retro modernism.
The statement makers
Sure, the onslaught of “ugly” sneakers and logo-covered kicks are both having a moment, but Vetements has really upped the ante on both with its latest Reebok collaboration. As far as making a statement goes, the InstaPump Fury is as loud as they come. Made from logo-covered leather, mesh and rubber – the chunky running sneaker is fitted with an eye-roll and kissing-face emoji on each tongue. Wear with anything Vetements, or Balenciaga for that matter. Somehow it all just works.
The speed socks
Speaking of Vetements... Its designer Mr Demna Gvasalia knows a thing or two about statements. The edgiest label around (Rammstein T-shirts, fashion shows in underground sex clubs, street-cast models) has proven time and time again that he can take the absurd and make it deeply, deeply desirable. And he’s done it once more with the Speed Sock. No, it’s not for deep sea diving, or walking on the Moon; the hybrid runner that blurs the lines between undergarment and gym shoe is an everyday item that looks good with everything from sweats to denim.
The luxe options
Brunello Cucinelli is a brand that prides itself on making some of the simplest items in a gentlemen’s wardrobe, but using better fabrics than anyone else. A case in point is its double-breasted blazer. There’s nothing ground-breaking about the design per se, but in the Italian label’s iteration you will find cashmere so fine you’ll want to sleep in it. That same level of commitment to creating the very best also applies to its Apollo sneakers. They come in water-resistant, cappuccino-coloured suede and are trimmed with Italian leather. Wear with turned-up chinos or tailored shorts, and put your best foot forward.
The modern classics
Seasons change, but streamlined, minimalist sneakers remain. Among the finest are a pair of Achilles by Common Projects, here in its Retro incarnation. A modern design classic, this low-top lace-up has seen only minimal tweaks since it first appeared in 2004. Made in Italy, the shoe boasts a solid construction from durable materials. But the brand’s co-founders Messrs Flavio Girolami and Peter Poopat struck gold with the understated logo on the heel – a discreet number signifying the style code, European size and colour of the shoe, which can be rubbed off if even that is too shouty for you. Best of all is their ability to look as good under the hem of Fear of God jeans as they would anchoring a Saint Laurent suit. If you don’t have a pair yet – where have you been?