2015 is a good time to like sneakers. Whether you’re into retro styles, designer takes on classic sports shoes, or the cutting-edge sure-to-make-you-run-faster technologies, you have your pick. No major player’s archives have been immune to reissuing, and Nike and Adidas continue to push the envelope in design and technology for lighter, better performing shoes. Interesting sneakers are also more broadly available than ever. Not a great thing for your classic sneakerhead, who today must compete with a global market, but great for the average guy who wants some new kicks.
In this case “distinctive” is totally subjective—it’s what I find interesting right now, and in general something that hasn’t been beaten into the ground by blogs and menswear periodicals, like Vans Authentics and Adidas Stan Smiths. And by non-fashion I mean not of a type with Martin Margiela’s German Army Trainers or Common Projects’ Achilles, two of the best-known luxury takes on classic designs (which you’re not going to find for $100, anyway). I’m talking shoes you can go buy right now and not bust your clothing budget for the next few months.
- Nike Lunar Internationalist ($59.99 on sale from $100 at Villa): A 1980s running shape updated with Nike’s Lunar sole, which is comfort tech but also adds a little modern design to potentially tired retro running shoes.
- Converse/Polar CTS Pro ($64.99 at Active): A suede version of Converse’s skate performance chuck low. Uses Nike’s Lunar insole, so allegedly more comfortable and padded than standard chucks.
- Vans Sk8-Hi ($89 at End): 80s skate shoes in clean monochrome white. A lot of these models are monochromatic, which I think is the looping back of the luxury brands making sport shoe silhouettes in toned down colors.
- Adidas SL Loop runner ($75 at Urban Outfitters): Part of Adidas’ attempt to steal back some of Nike’s streetwear market share. Not quite backwards looking, but some echoes of Adidas’ 1990s Equipment line. The mocc version has gotten a lot of press but I like the runner.
- Nike Blazer Hi ($90 at J. Crew): Straight retro of one of Nike’s earliest basketball shoes. I’ve always liked the blazer’s slightly goofy swoosh.