The Edit

Sneakers To Give You Happy Feet

Put a spring in your step and liven up a muted outfit with a pair of colourful kicks

It started, as so many things do, with Mr Kanye West. Then it spread to street-style-blog superstars such as Messrs Eugene Tong and Nick Wooster. Now it’s on the cusp of becoming A Thing. What is it? We at MR PORTER call it the sneaker pop, the muted outfit enlivened or offset by a pair of vibrant/fun/statement sneakers. There’s nothing revolutionary in the concept, of course – Run-DMC were doing “the illest things” in their adidases some three decades ago – but Mr West and company have persuaded designers to get in on the sneaker-pop act, resulting in the sleek lines and luxe materials of their footwear being topped with a riot of stars and stripes, or soaked in primary colours and clad in metallic hues. We’ve rounded up half a dozen peak sneaks for popping this season, along with suggestions for showcasing their kaleidoscopic splendour to best advantage. Prepare to make your lower extremities the centre of attention, while heeding the words of Mr West himself in “Facts”: “I ain’t dropped the album but the shoes went platinum”. (Come to think of it, platinum would make a very diverting sneaker-pop shade…)


They may be called Arena in acknowledgement that their vibrant red shade, from high-tops to tonal soles, is intense enough to project from the stages of the world’s enormo-domes (where they may be being sported by brand aficionado Mr West himself) and sear the eyes of those occupying the topmost seating tiers. Whatever their inspiration, these Balenciaga behemoths will add a savour of sauce (tomato ketchup, obvs) to any outfit, with their crossover lacing, pleated tongues, creased leather and, above all, their sheer redder-than-the-reddest-thing-in-Redtown redness. We suggest you let them blaze away beneath a subdued black hoodie and drainpipe jeans.


Remember that bit in Mr Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, where a white-suited lady bearing a tray of freeze-dried astronaut food walks (gingerly) up onto the ceiling to deliver her cargo to the flight deck? We’d like to think these retro-futurist silver metallic high-tops, from the fertile minds at Maison Margiela, were designed with similar intergalactic adventurers in mind. Their creased-leather reflective sheen is certainly out of this world, which is why we suggest you wear them with clean-cut skinny denim, leaving them free to do their cosmic thing. And we’d advise against taping Velcro to the soles in an effort to emulate the 2001 lady’s vertiginous feat, especially if you’re bearing a tray of piping-hot soup.


Lanvin has long been renowned for taking the humble sneaker into uncharted territory, and here, with these rich green and black zebra-print slip-ons crafted from supple grained leather, it’s marching right into the African savannahs and grasslands. Bold but still sleek, they embody the classically quirky Lanvin aesthetic while furthering its reputation as the sneaker cult brand par excellence. Wear them with a dark palette, so they shine in I’m-with-the-band style, and contemplate the big questions, eg, is a zebra a white animal with black stripes, or a black animal with white stripes?


Cobalt. Ultramarine. Lapis. Admiral. Whatever shade you want to pin on these Common Projects sneakers, they couldn’t be bluer if they were playing Mr Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue on Blue Monday at Los Angeles’ House Of Blues. It’s something of a departure for the brand, whose Original Achilles sneaker is the sine qua non of stylish, understated footwear and something of a design classic, but it’s an entirely welcome one. These azure beauties will add a splash of aquatic colour to whichever côte you wash up at this summer, and pairing them with, say, a white jacket and sand-coloured chinos makes the seasonal palette complete.


Who needs a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame when you can boast at least 18 on each of Mr Hedi Slimane’s Signature California Saint Laurent sneakers? Representing the apogee of his West Coast love affair before he stepped down as head of the brand earlier this year, their silver and red metallic leather, appliquéd heavenly bodies and cushioned rubber soles make them a champagne-supernova shoo-in when worn with skinny jeans and a Saint Laurent camo jacket. In fact, we’d be tempted to say that they’re the brightest constellation in the footwear firmament.


They may be from a Japanese brand, but these sneakers – the latest iteration of Visvim’s Skagway line – have a decidedly Gallic bent. It’s in the tricolor elan of the colour scheme, with the joie de vivre of the red and white striped rubber soles topped off by the bon vivant air of the navy canvas upper with contrast white stitching. If you accent their casual yet joyeux style with a field jacket and rolled-up jeans, and wear them anywhere in the vicinity of La Tour Eiffel or Cap d’Antibes this season, be prepared for a whole lot of liberté-égalité-fraternité to come flooding your way.