Perhaps the most versatile and easiest to wear of all trainer styles, minimalist sneakers boast simple, fuss-free 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, minimalist sneakers should be high on your wishlist. Whilst their style is characterised by understated design and refined features, minimalist sneakers can take many forms. Choose low-top or high-top; canvas or leather; slip on or laced.
For a versatile weekend look, you can’t go wrong with minimalist trainers worn with indigo denim jeans, a plain white tee and retro sunglasses. Make sure to roll the hem of your jeans a couple of times to show off the sneakers.
A workwear-inspired look will never fail when finished off with some minimalist 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.
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.
The first wave 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 proven 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. Many brands are 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 minimalist 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.
Founded in Lisbon in 2014, JAK has quickly made a name for itself as a key player in the world of minimalist footwear. The label strictly adheres to principles of high quality craftsmanship and slow fashion: Its refined and understated sneakers are made from locally sourced full-grain leather and sold direct to the consumer, cutting out middle men and unnecessary costs.
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.
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.
VOR, which was founded in Germany in 2010, strives for perfection with its minimalist 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 new 5a Kautschuk model, which puts a minimalist spin on a classic low-top basketball shoe silhouette.
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.
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 minimalist trainers with a point of difference.
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.
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