WE ALL NEED at least one good pair of sneakers. Some of us need more. More than just a trend, for many, sneakers are an identity; you might feel naked without your trusted pair of Nike Air Force 1’s or Adidas Sambas.
But whether you’re a serial sneaker collector, a sneakerhead or purely satisfied with whatever sneaker is comfortable and looks good, choosing the right sneaker for whatever the occasion may be — daily wear, weekend wear, special events and more — can be an overwhelming task. It takes time, commitment and a little know-how to nail your sneaker of choice.
Teamed with the tricky task of outing this year’s best sneakers for everyday wear, Esquire takes you through below the six best sneakers to consider if you’re in the market for a fresh pair of wheels.
THE LUXE PICK
Golden Goose Super-Star
First designed in 2007, the Super-Star sneaker is arguably the most iconic and recognisable of the Golden Goose catalogue. Stylish, rugged, versatile and comfortable, the Super-Star ticks all the right boxes when it comes to sneaker rep. Available in an evergreen combination of colours and finishes, you can also expect to find the the classic vintage treatment Golden Goose is renowned for. But there’s more: in select Golden Goose stores, you can even customise your own pair of Super-Stars (and pretty much every other sneaker collection) thanks to ‘Co-Creation’. Just pick your favourite and work alongside a dedicated Golden Goose Sneaker Maker artist to create your ultimate personalised sneaker.
THE TRENDING PICK
If you hadn’t noticed by now, the Adidas Samba — albeit a shoe first designed in 1949 — has to be the hottest sneaker of 2023. A street style mainstay, the Samba seems to be the preferred sneaker of everyone, actors to influencers, models and athletes. Beyond their apparent vintage appeal, the samba is a versatile and comfortable sneaker that can easily be dressed up and down. But get in quick; when re-stocked, they don’t last long.
THE STREET PICK
Nike Air Force 1 ’07
What’s not to love about the Nike Air Force 1? Making its debut in 1982, the AF1 became a part of the basketball zeitgeist, and a must-have sneaker for any child of the 1990s. Today, it’s as important amongst sneaker culture as ever. Wear the AF1 ’07 edition with anything from denim jeans and chinos to workout gear and sweats.
THE MINIMALIST PICK
Common Projects Original Achilles
Is there a plain white sneaker more sleek than Common Projects’ Original Achilles? Perhaps the sneaker that started the trend in the minimalist design approach to sneaker-wear, the Original Achilles is a cult classic and has been at the forefront of sneaker conversation since its debut in 2004. The all-white version really is your perfect white sneaker that will team with anything from smart casual to formalwear. Yes, they look very cool with a suit.
THE STYLISH PICK
adidas x Gucci Gazelle
Made famous by the likes of Harry Style (albeit a Gucci ambassador, Harry is never seen wearing another sneaker), the adidas x Gucci Gazelle, which is now in its second iteration, has quickly become an ‘it’ sneaker. Sure, its price is a tad steep, but we can assure you that when wearing a pair of these Gucci-fied Gazelles, you’ll be the coolest cat in the room. We’re partial to this honey bee-inspired iteration that definitely adds a pop of colour to your sneaker game.
THE DAD PICK
New Balance 990v6
Likely your Dad’s pick of the bunch, but one that definitely should have a place on every sneaker collector’s shelf. An absolute classic, as the story goes, the footwear designers at New Balance were tasked with creating the single best running shoe to rival the likes of Nike and adidas; the 990 was their answer. A running shoe, a fashion shoe, an everyday shoe — there’s really nothing the 990 can’t do.
THE CLASSIC PICK
Converse All Star Chuck ’70
We’re calling this classic pair of sneakers a “safe” pick, meaning, you literally know what you’re going to get each and every time you lace up a pair of Chuck Taylors. Arguably one of the most iconic shoes of all time, Converse established a subcultural icon with its Chuck Taylor All Star, a shoe worn by basketball great, music legends, film icons and everyone and anyone in between.
THE GRAIL PICK
Off-White x Air Jordan 1 ‘UNC’
We had to add at least one sneaker to aspire to. And what better sneaker than Virgil Abloh’s iconic Nike collaboration, featuring this Off-White x Air Jordan 1. Titled the “UNC” edition, this classic silhouette clearly pays tribute to the University of North Carolina, Michael Jordan’s old high school (where his greatness was first established, mind you).
THE UNDERDOG PICK
Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66
While we’re prepared to die on the Adidas Samba hill, there are punters out there who argue the sneaker is reaching peak saturation. And in its wake, a new icon is emerging: the humble Onitsuka Tiger ‘Mexico 66’ sneaker, which has crept into the street style subconscious of late. Channel Uma Thurman circa Kill Bill in a pair of bright yellow 66’s, or opt for this brown, off-white and navy blue pair for something a little more classic.