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.

How to style minimalist trainers

Wear them with denim:

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. 

Wear them with workwear:

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. 

Go for a tonal look:

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. 

Why minimalist sneakers?

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. 

The best minimalist sneaker brands 

JAK

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.


  1. JAK
    Dust Royal Sneakers
    £135
  2. JAK
    Mint Royal Lite Sneakers
    £135
  3. JAK
    Dust Royal Sneakers
    £135
  4. JAK
    Mutton Legacy Sneakers
    £135
  5. JAK
    Dust Royal HI Sneakers
    £144
  6. JAK
    WOB Royal Sneakers
    £135
  7. JAK
    White / Black Royal Sneakers
    £135
  8. JAK
    Light Grey Atom Sneakers
    £139
  9. JAK
    Black Royal Sneakers
    £135
  10. JAK
    Black Olympic Sneakers
    £126
  11. JAK
    Off-White Nova Sneakers
    £148
  12. JAK
    Desert Royal Lite Sneakers
    £135
  13. JAK
    Black Atom Sneakers
    £139
  14. JAK
    Grey Mercury Sneakers
    £148
  15. JAK
    Dust / Blue Atlas Sneakers
    £216

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. Triple White Leather Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  2. Double Caramel Leather Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  3. Triple Navy Leather Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  4. Putty Triple Suede Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  5. Army Tumbled Leather / Suede Series 3 Sneakers
    £140
  6. Navy Leather Series 8 Sneakers
    £140
  7. Double Black Leather Series 8 Sneakers
    £140
  8. Powder Suede Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  9. Olive Suede Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  10. White Gum Leather Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  11. White Leather Series 8 Sneakers
    £140
  12. Sky Suede Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  13. Navy Leather Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  14. Triple Ecru Leather Series 1 Sneakers
    £140
  15. Denim Suede 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. White Merton Sneakers
    £143
  2. White Low 1 Sneakers
    From £136
  3. Black Wilson Boots
    From £169
  4. Brown SB 1 Boots
    From £169
  5. Off White Low 1 Sneakers
    From £136
  6. Black GAT Sneakers
    From £143
  7. Lion Low 1 Sneakers
    From £136
  8. Truffle Chelsea Boots
    From £169
  9. Black Chelsea Boots
    From £169
  10. Green Ray Low 1 Sneakers
    From £125
  11. Black / White Low 1 Sneakers
    From £136
  12. Black Merton Sneakers
    £143
  13. Slate Low 1 Sneakers
    From £136

VOR

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. 


  1. VOR
    1A Light Blue Sneakers
    £305
  2. VOR
    2A Safari Sneakers
    £315
  3. VOR
    3B Tiefschwarz Sneakers
    £325
  4. VOR
    1B Truffle Sneakers
    £310
  5. VOR
    5a Champagneweiss Sneakers
    £297
  6. VOR
    5A Miamiweiss Sneakers
    £300
  7. VOR
    5A Champagnerweiss Sneakers
    £310
  8. VOR
    1B Antikweiss Sneakers
    £315
  9. VOR
    5A Kittweiss II Sneakers
    £310
  10. VOR
    1C Nebelweiss Sneakers
    £300
  11. VOR
    3A White / Rubber Sneakers
    £315
  12. VOR
    1A Waschblau Sneakers
    £305
  13. VOR
    1A Marineblau Perforiert Sneakers
    £305
  14. VOR
    5A Kittgrau Sneakers
    £300
  15. VOR
    3B Vintageweiss 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. Teal Blue LT 01 Sneakers
    £215
  2. Steel Grey LT 01 Sneakers
    £215
  3. Off-Court White / Clay LT 04 Sneakers
    £224 £112
  4. Anthracite LT 01 Sneakers
    £224
  5. Black Tencel LT 01 Sneakers
    £206
  6. Off-Court White LT 04 Sneakers
    £224 £112
  7. Violet LT 01 Sneakers
    £215
  8. Maroon LT 01 Sneakers
    £224
  9. Marine Blue LT 01 Sneakers
    £224

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 minimalist trainers with a point of difference. 


  1. Black Weatherproof No-1 Sneakers
    £198
  2. Sand Breathable No-2 Sneakers
    £166
  3. No-2 Plaster Breathable Sneakers
    £175
  4. All White No-2 Sneakers
    £175
  5. All White Breathable No-2 Sneakers
    £175
  6. Grey Breathable No-2 Sneakers
    £193
  7. Black Breathable No-2 Sneakers
    £175
  8. White Napa No-1 Sneakers
    £193
  9. Light No-1 Sneakers
    £193
  10. Black No-2 Sneakers
    £175

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. Garnet '89 Modelo Sneakers
    £125
  2. White '89 Modelo Sneakers
    £125
  3. Green Modelo '89 Sneakers
    £125
  4. Blue Modelo '89 Sneakers
    £125
  5. White Vegan Modelo '89 Sneakers
    £120
  6. Dark Modelo '89 Sneakers
    £120
  7. Beige '89 Modelo Sneakers
    £125
  8. Black Modelo '89 Sneakers
    £125
  9. Caramel Vegan Modelo '89 Sneakers
    £120

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