When it comes to modern trainers, it’s time we put our foot down. Because, since these sporty shoes found popularity in the mid 20th century — bigged up by brands including Converse and Nike — sneakers have seriously strayed; fallen from laced-up grace and transformed into ugly shadows of their former fashionable selves.
These days, trainers are chunky, lurid and stand on garish contrast-coloured soles. They’re highly reflective, completely ineffective and seem more interested in turning heads than protecting feet. And that’s why we’re stripping things back; choosing five functional, practical pairs to bring subtle style back to every modern man’s wardrobe. Take a look…
For a sporty sort, MULO Perforated Off-White Sneakers
To kick things off, a subdued shoe. From innovative British footwear brand MULO, these unassuming sneakers are cut from creamy nubuck — perforated for a sporty quality and to boost breathability. Lined with high-quality Italian leather, hand-stitched and featuring a cushioned footbed with arch support, they’ll slot seamlessly into almost any outfit.
MULO Perforated Off-White Sneakers
For a smarter style, Uniform Standard ‘Series 8’ Sneakers
This edgy East London shoemaker has long been one of our favourites. And the ‘Series 8’ sneaker could be Uniform Standard’s modern, minimal masterpiece. Handcrafted from premium Italian leather, this navy trainer has been designed on a recycled rubber wedge outsole and recycled moulded footbed. That gives it optimal support and comfort — without sacrificing any of the smarter style the high-shine leather laces up.
Uniform Standard ‘Series 8’ Sneakers
For classic kicks, Aurélien ‘Cambridge’ Sneakers
Because who doesn’t need a reliable white sneaker? A true mainstay of the modern man’s wardrobe, Aurélien’s ‘Cambridge’ design is as dependable a shoe as you’ll ever slip on. Cut from smooth Italian leather, it’s got all the charm of ubiquitous bright white kicks — but stitches a little sophistication into the sporty-soled, low-top luxury proceedings.
Aurélien ‘Cambridge’ Sneakers
For sheer versatility, Uniform Standard ‘Series 1’ Suede Sneakers
We told you we were fans of Uniform Standard — ever since the launch of the brand’s ‘Series 1’. And this original design remains unrivalled in terms of versatility. Suede they may be, but these sneakers are as tough as old boots — and the ‘Jet Black’ colourway you see here (the darkest of the brand’s four black shades) offers a level of adaptable, all-around function that even the plainest pair of Oxfords would struggle to match.
Uniform Standard ‘Series 1’ Suede Sneakers
For a do-all design, Unseen Footwear ‘Helier 2’ Sneakers
For our final pick, we’re sticking with suede — and staying in London. Unseen Footwear takes timeless designs and twists them; adding Italian influences and minimalist, Scandi-slanted style. These ‘Helier 2’ sneakers speak to that effective ethos, with clean lines, locally sourced leathers and a modest off-white shade delivering a pair of smart-casual sneakers that work in the boardroom, at the bar — and beyond…
Unseen Footwear ‘Helier 2’ Sneakers
Want more timeless style tips? Here’s why Kit Blake’s smart, stride-making trousers are an everyday essential…
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