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. Ghost Suede Triple Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  2. Grey Suede Series 6 Sneakers
    £150
  3. Denim Suede Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  4. Navy Leather Series 8 Sneakers
    £140
  5. Navy Suede Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  6. Double Stone Suede Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  7. Tan Suede Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  8. Grey Suede Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  9. Ink Suede Series 2 Slip-On Sneakers
    £140
  10. Triple Black Leather 8 Series Sneakers
    £140
  11. White Leather Series 8 Sneakers
    £140
  12. Double Black Leather Series 8 Sneakers
    £140
  13. Stone Suede & Nubuck Series 3 Sneakers
    £140
  14. White Leather Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  15. Double Caramel Leather Series 1 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. Black Chelsea Boots
    £177
  2. Essential Kit
    £19
  3. White GAT Sneakers
    £150
  4. Navy Low 1 Sneakers
    £142
  5. White Court Sneakers
    £183
  6. Black / White Low 1 Sneakers
    £142
  7. Parrot Low 1 Sneakers
    £135
  8. Brown SB 1 Boots
    £177
  9. Brown Roughout SB 1 Boots
    £177
  10. Leather Conditioner
    £11
  11. Jet Black Low 1 Sneakers
    £142
  12. Black Court Sneakers
    £183
  13. Black Phoenix Sneakers
    £79

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
    2A Zementweiss Sneakers
    £315
  2. VOR
    5A Kontrastweiss Sneakers
    £325
  3. VOR
    5A Miamiweiss Sneakers
    £300
  4. VOR
    2A Safari Sneakers
    £315
  5. VOR
    3A White / Rubber Sneakers
    £315
  6. VOR
    Night Blue 1A Sneakers
    £305
  7. VOR
    1A Cremeweiss Perforiert Sneakers
    £305
  8. VOR
    1A Marineblau Perforiert Sneakers
    £305
  9. VOR
    3B Tiefschwarz Sneakers
    £325
  10. VOR
    1B Antikweiss Sneakers
    £315
  11. VOR
    1A Light Blue Sneakers
    £305
  12. VOR
    1A White / Rubber Sneakers
    £305
  13. VOR
    1B Truffle Sneakers
    £310
  14. VOR
    1B White / Rubber Sneakers
    £315
  15. VOR
    5a Champagneweiss Sneakers
    £297

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. Alloy LT 03 Sneakers
    £224
  2. Black LT 03 Sneakers
    £224
  3. Walnut LT 01 Sneakers
    £234
  4. White LT 03 Sneakers
    £224
  5. Steel Grey LT 01 Sneakers
    £215
  6. Sunflower LT 01 Sneakers
    £215
  7. White Sand LT 01 Sneakers
    £215
  8. Violet LT 01 Sneakers
    £215
  9. Grape Wine LT 01 Sneakers
    £234
  10. Ocean Green LT 01 Sneakers
    £234
  11. Off-Court White / True Blue LT 04 Sneakers
    £224 £157
  12. Alloy MT 02 Sneakers
    £234
  13. Black DS 01 Shoes
    £224
  14. Red Ochre LT 01 Sneakers
    £215
  15. Microchip Knitted Tencel LT 01 Sneakers
    £206 £145

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

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. Green Modelo '89 Sneakers
    £124
  2. Blue Modelo '89 Sneakers
    £124
  3. White '89 Modelo Sneakers
    £124
  4. Garnet '89 Modelo Sneakers
    £124
  5. Black Modelo '89 Sneakers
    £124
  6. Beige '89 Modelo Sneakers
    £124

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