smart sneakers

The sneaker brands to know about now

A go-to for work and play, meet the brands making the best trainers on the market

Trainers. Sneakers. Kicks. No matter what you call them it’s likely you own more pairs than you care to admit. And that’s just fine because, for the modern man, a good pair of trainers are the cornerstone for a stylish wardrobe. The perfect match for jeans, chinos, shorts and even suits, a versatile and wide ranging collection of trainers is a more than worthy investment.

But since you’ll be wearing them time and time again, it pays to invest in quality pairs that will last more than one season. Here is our pick of the best sneaker brands to know about now (and the shoes you should be buying from them)…

Oliver Cabell

oliver cabell

Founded in 2016, Oliver Cabell is a relative newcomer to the high-end sneaker market – but a much welcome addition. Beginning life as a buzzy direct-to-consumer brand, it is now part of the GJ Shop family, bringing its British sensibility and commitment to craftsmanship, high-tech production methods and traditional artistry with it. Handmade in the Marche region of Italy using butter soft leather, the Low 1 in navy or off-white is a brilliant choice for your first pair of Oliver Cabell sneakers – but we’re also rather partial to the sportier GAT too.

oliver cabell low 1

Oliver Cabell Low 1 sneakers

£241

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oliver cabell low 1

Oliver Cabell Low 1 sneakers

£241

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oliver cabell gat

Oliver Cabell GAT sneakers

£244

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North 89

north 89

“You don’t have to compromise style over functionality,” says Gustaf Secher, founder of Scandi sneaker brand North 89. This seamless marriage of beautiful design and utilitarian practicality is exactly what North 89 delivers in every single pair of its refined sneakers. Crafted from fine Italian leather and suede and handmade in Portugal, its classic No-1 and No-2 designs are available in a huge range of colours so, whether its the beach, the boardroom or the bar, there’s a pair perfect for every occasion.

north 89

North 89 No-2 Breathable sneakers

£162

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Uniform Standard

uniform standard

Founded in 2018 by a collaboration of designers with more than 15 years experience creating sneakers for high profile brands, Uniform Standard offers design expertise coupled with a strong ethical and sustainable approach. Every pair of Uniform Standard trainers is created using leather from tanneries with gold-level Leather Working Group certification while the outsoles, footbeds and insole boards and made using a minimum of 70% recycled materials. The brand also offers plastic-free packaging and carbon neutral shipping so you can feel as good as your new trainers look.

uniform standard

Uniform Standard Series 1 sneakers

£140

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uniform standard

Uniform Standard Series 3 sneakers

£140

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uniform standard

Uniform Standard Series 6 sneakers

£150

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C.QP

cqp trainers

Founded in Stockholm in 2014, C.QP is one of the most exciting mono-brand (read: it focuses specifically on great footwear) out there. With just eight designs in its collection, and five of these being sneakers, C.QP boasts laser focus and incredible attention to detail without sacrificing on choice. The tennis shoe-inspired Racquet is the classic here but, for something a little different, we’d recommend the Otium and Atrium sneakers.

Unseen Footwear

unseen footwear

London-based Unseen Footwear does what it says on the tin – creates sneakers for those who recognise true style lies not in bold colours and brash logos but in understated luxury. Unbranded save for a subtle tonal embossment on the tongue, Unseen Footwear’s minimalist sneakers are designed with British sensibility and handcrafted in Italy to offer one of the finest finished products on the sneaker market. We’re particularly fond of the chunky-soled Trinity, skate-inspired Saviour and low profile Helier.

unseen footwear

Unseen Footwear Trinity sneakers

£205

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unseen footwear

Unseen Footwear Saviour sneakers

£205

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unseen footwear

Unseen Footwear Helier sneakers

£195

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Rubirosa

rubirosa

Rubirosa’s namesake style icon, Porfirio Rubirosa, may have been better known for his sharp suits and crisp shirts than his sneakers but the Swiss brand has taken all the elegance and style of its muse and poured it into a range of smart sneakers with classic menswear elements. Crafted with breathable leather inners for durability and comfort, the Odile, with its brogue-style perforations, is perfect for dressing up chinos while the high top Ariza will be your new go-to come autumn.

rubirosa

Rubirosa Odile Low sneakers

£295

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rubirosa

Rubirosa Odile Low sneakers

£295

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rubirosa

Rubirosa Ariza sneakers

£300

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Scarosso

scarosso

While perhaps better known for its luxurious driving shoes and elegant loafers, Italian brand Scarosso also offers an excellent line in smart sneakers. Founded in 2009, each of Scarosso’s designs blends traditional techniques with a modern design sensibility, resulting in high quality trainers that feel as luxurious as they look. Invest in the classic Cosmo and Ugo styles for everyday versatility while the Ryan sneaker will add a sporty edge to your wardrobe.

scarosso

Scarosso Cosmo sneakers

£185

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Koio

koio

Founded by self-confessed sneaker heads Cris Wichert and Johannes Quodt in 2015, Koio promises to add ‘European sensibility and quality to American ambition and attitude’ with all its products. There result is a line of sneakers crafted in Italy with the express purpose of making the wearer feel comfortable and well put-together wherever they happen to be – from a big meeting to a first date. Now numbering seven different ranges, we’re particular fans of the Capri, Primo and Metro models.

Looking for something to wear with your new sneakers? Short sleeve shirts are stylish again…

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