Perhaps the easiest to wear of all trainer styles, minimal sneakers boast simple, plain designs that wear well with everything from workwear to tailoring.

If you’re after a new pair of trainers that are both comfortable and effortlessly cool, minimal sneakers should be high on your wishlist.  

What makes minimal sneakers so great?

The first weave of minimalist sneakers came around with Common Projects, when the brand launched back in 2004. The proposition was simple: take a tennis-inspired silhouette, stripped back all the extraneous detailing, and craft them out of beautiful Italian leather. 

That formula has proved especially popular over the last decade and a half, with numerous brands cropping up offering similar styles. Emphasis has been placed on construction methods too, with many brands upping their quality with hand-stitched soles and metal shanks the likes of which you’d usually find in Goodyear-welted leather dress shoes

A good pair of minimal sneakers won’t only last though. They’re arguably the smartest way into the sneaker game, and with their slim designs and premium leather they work especially well as a smart casual crossover shoe. Wear them with denim jeans or sharp office attire, and you can’t go wrong. 

How to wear minimal trainers

With denim

For a versatile weekend look, you can’t go wrong with minimal trainers worn with indigo denim jeans, a knitted polo shirt and retro sunglasses. Make sure to roll the hem of your jeans a couple of times to show off the sneakers. 

With workwear

A workwear-inspired look will never fail when finished off with some minimal sneakers. A pair of wider leg trousers and an overshirt will tone down the smart casual elements of the shoes, as will some sports-inspired striped socks. 

Go tonal

To play along with the trainer’s smart potential though, go for a tonal navy look, which is ideal for the office or the weekend. The dark navy colours will ensure the bright white of the sneakers really pops, too. 

Best minimal sneaker brands 

Uniform Standard

Known as much for its sustainability as it is producing expertly designed minimal sneakers, Uniform Standard is a great place to start. From its East London studio, Uniform Standard makes use of the best quality Italian leathers and suedes, while remaining conscious about its affects on the environment. 


  1. Taupe Suede Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  2. Ghost Suede Triple Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  3. White Gum Leather Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  4. Olive Suede Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  5. Double Blush Suede Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  6. Double Black Leather Series 8 Sneakers
    £140
  7. Triple Grey Suede Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  8. White Tumbled Leather & Suede Series 3 Sneakers
    £140
  9. White Leather Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  10. Denim Suede Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  11. Double Black Leather Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  12. White Suede Series 2 Slip-On Sneakers
    £140
  13. Stone Suede & Nubuck Series 3 Sneakers
    £140
  14. Grey Suede Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  15. Ink Suede Series 2 Slip-On Sneakers
    £140

Oliver Cabell

Oliver Cabell is innovative in the way it approaches its business. In offering its minimal sneakers direct to the consumer, skipping out the middle man and all the costs associated with that, its shoes come in at a far lower price point than some of its other competitors. Its trainers are handmade in Italy using Italian leather, soles and even laces - so you know the quality is there. 


  1. Navy GAT Sneakers
    £150
  2. Ash Chelsea Boots
    £177
  3. Navy Nubuck GAT Sneakers
    £150
  4. Ocean Low 1 Sneakers
    £142
  5. Truffle Chelsea Boots
    £177
  6. Parrot Low 1 Sneakers
    £135
  7. Natural SB 1 Boots
    £177
  8. Essential Kit
    £19
  9. Shoe Whitener
    £14
  10. Slate Low 1 Sneakers
    £142
  11. Brown Roughout SB 1 Boots
    £177
  12. Brown Wilson Boots
    £177
  13. Leather Conditioner
    £11
  14. Brown SB 1 Boots
    £177

VOR

VOR, which was founded in Germany in 2010, strives for perfection with its minimal designs. Known for its opulent materials and simple, pared-back detailing, its shoes are among the best quality you’ll find anywhere. Look out for its 5a Champagneweiss model, which puts a minimal spin on a classic low-top basketball shoe silhouette. 


  1. VOR
    1B Nebelweiss Sneakers
    £315
  2. VOR
    2B Safari Sneakers
    £325
  3. VOR
    1A White / Rubber Sneakers
    £305
  4. VOR
    2A Zementweiss Sneakers
    £315
  5. VOR
    2A Safari Sneakers
    £315
  6. VOR
    5A Kontrastweiss Sneakers
    £325
  7. VOR
    3B Tiefschwarz Sneakers
    £325
  8. VOR
    1B Truffle Sneakers
    £310
  9. VOR
    5A Miamiweiss Sneakers
    £300
  10. VOR
    1C Nebelweiss Sneakers
    £300
  11. VOR
    1A Cremeweiss Perforiert Sneakers
    £305
  12. VOR
    5A Kittgrau Sneakers
    £300
  13. VOR
    3B Vintageweiss Sneakers
    £325
  14. VOR
    3A White / Rubber Sneakers
    £315
  15. VOR
    2B Reinweiss Sneakers
    £325

ETQ

ETQ has recently ventured into proper leather shoes the likes of Chelsea boots and Derbies, but it’s best known for its laid-back sneakers. Working with a range of leather and colourful suedes, the brand’s LT 04 model is highly rated, with its slightly chunkier sole and impressive build quality. 


  1. Ocean Green LT 01 Sneakers
    £234
  2. Off White Kurashiki LT 01 Sneakers
    £197 £138
  3. Anthracite LT 01 Sneakers
    £225
  4. Maroon LT 01 Sneakers
    £225
  5. Off-Court White / Clay LT 04 Sneakers
    £225 £157
  6. Ash Kurashiki LT 01 Sneakers
    £197 £138
  7. Money Green LT 01 Sneakers
    £225
  8. Sunflower LT 01 Sneakers
    £216
  9. Black LT 01 Sneakers
    £216
  10. White Sand LT 01 Sneakers
    £216
  11. Blueberry LT 03 Sneakers
    £225
  12. Nougat LT 01 Sneakers
    £234
  13. Charcoal LT 01 Sneakers
    £234
  14. Sand LT 01 Sneakers
    £216
  15. White LT 01 Sneakers
    £216

North-89

While North-89 has made a name for itself producing simply designed, well-made minimal sneakers, it’s also innovated by updating the classic silhouette with breathable mesh uppers and gum soles. Sitting at a price point more accessible than others, the brand is a great option if you’re after minimal trainers with a point of difference. 


  1. Black No-2 Sneakers
    £176
  2. Aster No-1 Sneakers
    £194 £140
  3. Caramel Weatherproof Sneakers
    £180 £135
  4. All White No-2 Sneakers
    £176
  5. Grey Breathable No-2 Sneakers
    £194
  6. Light No-1 Sneakers
    £194
  7. Deep Blue No-2 Sneakers
    £167 £122
  8. Cement No-1 Sneakers
    £194 £140
  9. No-2 Plaster Breathable Sneakers
    £176
  10. Navy Vegan No-1 Sneakers
    £176
  11. Black Breathable No-2 Sneakers
    £176
  12. White Napa No-1 Sneakers
    £194
  13. Papyrus No-1 Sneakers
    £194 £140
  14. Black Weatherproof No-1 Sneakers
    £198
  15. Sand Breathable No-2 Sneakers
    £167

SAYE

When SAYE was founded in 2017 it set out with the plan to plant two trees for every sale of its well-made, beautifully styled sneakers. 50,000 trees later, SAYE is still going strong, and is well known for its pared back take on retro styled sneakers of the ‘80s. 


  1. Beige '89 Modelo Sneakers
    £125
  2. Garnet '89 Modelo Sneakers
    £125
  3. Black Modelo '89 Sneakers
    £125
  4. White '89 Modelo Sneakers
    £125
  5. Green Modelo '89 Sneakers
    £125
  6. Blue Modelo '89 Sneakers
    £125

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