Alternatives to Common Projects

The price of minimalist sneakers has really gone through the roof in the last few years. Common Project’s low top Achilles, for example, used to cost somewhere between $250 and $300, but you’d be lucky nowadays to find them at that price on sale. On the upside, with their growing popularity, more and more companies are coming out with their own designs, which means there’s a lot of options at a wide range of price points.

If you’re considering some minimalist kicks, here are some of the non-CP options, from most to least expensive:

Over $300

APC ($355): APC’s sneakers are nearly just as expensive at full retail, but given their distribution, you can easily find them on sale. Totokaelo Man, for example, has them on discount right now for $249. Similarly designed and priced are Wings + Horns and Svensson.

Buttero ($325): A much more original, but still tasteful, take on minimalism. Depending on what you plan to wear with your sneakers, these could be a better option than your standard sleek or sporty designs.  

Our Legacy ($310): This Swedish brand has a really nice, youthful take on contemporary men’s clothing. This season, they have sporty white low top, which is sold at their online store, French Garment Cleaners, and Totokaelo Man.

Hydrogen-1 ($305): A new San Franciscan label with sneakers that are just as well made as any of their competitors. These white low tops with gum soles look great, and they come in suede

Comme des Garcons ($300): Wait, are these minimalist sneakers or just Adbuster rip offs?

Over $200

National Standard ($270+): A relatively new label that I unfortunately don’t know much about, but they’re sold at reputable and fancy boutiques. Check them out at L’ExceptionIkkon, and The Corner.

Erik Schedin ($238): I’ve unfortunately never handled these, but have always admired their design. The listed price drops down to $238 once you deduct for European taxes.

Twins for Peace ($200): A minimalist sneaker with a cheeky pair of shoelaces. If you don’t like the laces, I imagine you can easily swap them out for something simpler. 

Under $200

Garment Project ($192): A Danish company doing basics such as shirts and sweatshirts. Their sneakers have an inverted “V” at the eyelet tabs and a more exaggerated toe cap. Available at MKI and Wardrobe19.

Nikes ($105+): Granted, Nikes will always have that big swoosh, which goes against the spirit of minimalism, but they have some great designs at relatively affordable prices. Check out the Air Force OnesDunksAir Jordan 1 Mids, and Blazers. You can get these in all white if you go through Nike’s ID program.

Saturdays NYC ($95): A nubuck version of Vans Authentics that’s on sale at Totokaelo Man and Roden Gray. Also available? Authentic suede Authentics.

Kent Wang ($95): One of the most affordably priced options of all.

Adidas ($75+): Many of Adidas’ designs can look reasonably minimal. Consider the Sambas or Stan Smiths. After all - the Stan Smith is what almost everyone above is knocking off.

I talked yesterday about some lesser known summer fabrics, but let’s get back to basics for a moment. You know what makes summer truly great? Linen shirts. 

Seriously, I love linen shirts, and I’m always surprised by how few men wear them. Their gauzy, wrinkly nature adds a really nice texture and can give you a much more interesting casual look. Linen is also great for hot days. It has an airy, open weave that allows your skin to breathe and feel much cooler than it would under, say, oxford cloth. Additionally, since all their charm is in how they wrinkle, you don’t have to iron them. 

The classic linen shirt is the white collared button up. However, since you can’t bleach linen (as the harsh chemical really destroys the fibers), keeping a white linen shirt white can be a bit hard depending on your habits. White linen can also be very bright; if you’re a bit pale, it can visually wash you out. Thus, if you don’t think you can manage a white linen shirt, I’ve rounded up some other options for you. 

For simple basics, check out Brooks Brothers’ linen shirts. These come in a variety of interesting colors, my favorite of which is their light blue. They also have a dark blue version, which can look great with khaki chinos. J Crew has a similar dark blue model, and it fits slightly slimmer than Brooks Brothers. They also have the same shirt in bengal stripe and gingham. The fabric on J Crew’s is a bit heavier than some of the others I’m featuring here, which means the creasing that you’ll get isn’t as sharp. I prefer this, personally, as I think it makes the shirt look more rumpled than creased, but it’s a matter of taste. 

For something a slightly more than your basics, check out Our Legacy. They have a slightly worn looking striped linen shirt that has a bit of old world Western European feel to it. Boden also has some interesting plaids and stripes, as well a linen “grandad” shirt, which is basically a kind of linen henley. It’s a bit more unique looking, but I think would still make for a great casual piece this summer. 

Lastly, a word about marketing. As you shop for linen shirts, you may notice some brands, such as J Crew, heavily market theirs as being “Irish linen.” Now, linen is to Ireland what cashmere is to Scotland, but this doesn’t mean that linens from other countries aren’t as good. Plus, being labeled Irish linen just means the fabric was woven in Ireland; the material doesn’t necessarily have to be milled there. The term is mostly a marketing ploy, so you should be wary. In the end, the most important thing is for you to see how the linen wrinkles, and whether you’re comfortable with the fabric.

If you’re on the fence about wearing a “wrinkled shirt,” I recommend just going into a store and trying one on. You may find you actually like it, and after getting used it all summer, you’ll lament the coming of the fall season, when you have to go back to your poplins and oxfords.