The past few years have taken us on something of a white-sneaker odyssey, with the boom of Stan Smiths around 2017, the rise of the ugly dad sneaker in 2018, and Common Projects becoming the ubiquitous shoe of “creatives” somewhere along the way. In 2019, the dust of the white sneaker craze seems to have settled somewhat, but they’re still our go-to for work, errands, going out, and just about any other time we leave the house. Like a white button-down shirt, a just-right pair of jeans, or a perfectly broken in black T-shirt, white sneakers are timeless. To get some inspiration for our next pair, we reached out to sneakerheads and casual sneaker fans alike to hear about their favorites. They reported back with picks that are minimalist, sporty, and some that even look a little like a piece of sculpture. Read on for all of our cool people’s favorites (and don’t forget to brush up on our guide to cleaning sneakers if you want to keep those whites bright and shiny).
Best sporty white sneakers
Diane Abapo, director of content at authentic sneaker resale site GOAT, says she’s been wearing Nike’s Zoom Gravity sneakers “nonstop.” “They’re extremely lightweight — like a pile of feathers — athletic-looking and have a midsole that tapers to a pointed heel,” she says. Abapo calls the tapered heel on the Gravity a “less muted” version of the eye-catching tapered heel on the A-Cold-Wall* x Air Zoom Vomero 5s. And while Abapo’s sneaker selections usually revolve around Air Jordan 1s and Air Force 1s (which make appearances further down this list), she’s been into lighter-weight running-style sneakers from Nike lately. “Another perk of opting for lighter running-style sneakers is they’re lighter to pack in a suitcase,” she says. “I’ve been traveling a lot over the last few months and know firsthand that choosing what sneakers to pack is key.”
Another running-sneaker pick comes from Rilka Noel, e-commerce planner at Kith, who says that the Asics Gel-Kinsei OGs are her “current and probably forever” favorites. “I love how comfortable these are, and the classic Asics formstripe gives a nod to the original 2000s silhouette,” Noel says. “They’re designed for running, but I’ve been wearing them every day for all occasions.” She told us that she’s been into technical/performance sneakers with a retro nostalgia vibe — like that 2000s silhouette — for pairing with day-to-night looks, and wears these with ankle socks and dresses, as well as with oversized denim and a silky blouse. “They’re everything,” she says.
“I have the Nike Huarache sneakers in all-white and wear them all the time,” says Elizabeth Tamkin, market strategist at Man Repeller. “The sole has a bit of height, which I like because I’m on the shorter side.” Tamkin also likes that these are unisex, which allows her to “find sneaker-style inspiration from literally anybody in the world.” She pairs the Huaraches with girly dresses (once with a velvet Rhode Resort dress) and tracksuits alike.
“I grew up in a sports-fanatic family; always playing, watching, talking about sports and sports culture,” says Michelle Silva, co-founder of the Con.cept. When it comes to sneakers for Silva, she tells us, “Comfort is the way to go. You can’t move slow on these New York streets, or waste time in uncomfortable shoes.” And while she says she chooses her sneakers based on her mood and whatever is inspiring her that day, her go-to pair is a classic Air Force 1. “Their versatility makes it a staple piece in my closet,” Silva says. “Always keep a clean pair in your closet.”
For a new spin on the classic, Madison Hartman, social director at sneaker and streetwear retailer Stadium Goods, says her pick is the Nike Air Force 1 Jester XX. The pair was part of the brand’s “Reimagined” collection, which was designed by a team of fourteen women at Nike. The shoes are “tweaked just enough to stand out,” says Hartman, who points to the elevated heel, tag on the outside, and the askew Nike swoosh and back heel logo as the details that set the Jester XX apart from classic Air Force 1s. “I would pair them with either a dark-wash jean or a pair of plaid pants,” she says.
Best high-top white sneakers
Artist Shantell Martin told us that while she’s a bit biased after designing her own line of sneakers for Puma, she still turns to Converse for her “staple go-to sneaker”: A pair of canvas monochrome Chuck Taylor high-tops. “They’re easy to travel with, super comfy, and the perfect work sneakers for when I’m doing big jobs outside.” (Converse high tops are a favorite of many a Strategist editor and writer, as well.)
“These sneakers have been by my side since my freshman year of high school— I haven’t grown at all, ha,” artist Camille Lanham says of her Vans Sk8-Hi. “What I love most about them is they’ve never failed me with any outfit I’ve tried on.” Lanham also notes that no matter how dirty these get, there’s “nothing a little bleach can’t do.” And if you’re wondering what kind of bleach to try, we again direct you to our guide on how to clean sneakers, according to experts.
“I love a white sneaker for fall because they’re decadent and defiantly alive,” says Minya Oh a.k.a. radio personality Miss Info, who is also the style director for Stadium Goods. Speaking of lively sneakers, Oh’s pick offers a surprising take on the white-sneaker trend. “I love these stark white Chuck high tops that Converse made with one of my favorite indie streetwear lines, Chinatown Market,” she says. “They look clinical and basic at first, but the specially treated canvas actually reacts to UV light and turns different shades of pink and purple when you go outside,” adds Oh, who notes that they’re a great conversation starter, too.
Best low-top white sneakers
“There’s something inherently cool, nostalgic, and rebellious about Converse,” Jenny Walton, illustrator and fashion director for the Sartorialist told us. Walton says she started wearing black low-top Chuck Taylors in middle school: “I thought I was cool, and that they made me seem a little punk-rockish. Me and my friends would write notes on them when we were bored in school.” She switched to white Converse in the past few years — “still low-tops; I think I’m too short to pull off high-tops” — but says that it’s not a bad idea to also pick up a pair of black Converse to help get you through the worst of New York’s weather.
Michelle Li, fashion and beauty editor at Teen Vogue, chose Veja Low-Tops as her favorite (they happen to be a favorite in the New York magazine offices, as well). “I really love the brand behind these sneakers — they’re transparent and ethical with their sourcing, and their shoes are still affordable,” says Li. “This shoe feels special to me because the design feels streamlined, but still classic.” Li praises the shoes’ balance between a “chunky feel” and something more “modern,” and their detailing, like the mesh toes. “I also love gum soles on white shoes, so this is my supernova white shoe,” she says.
“Unless I’m getting dolled up, I always opt for simple sneakers,” says model and photographer Louise Parker. “My favorite sneakers are white Converse High Tops and white Supergas. When I know I’m going to be walking a lot, I’ll wear my Supergas because they have a bit more support.” Parker told us that she also likes these because they look like “cute tennis shoes.” Superga Cotus are also a favorite of former Strategist writer and current Self magazine editor Lori Keong.
“These are OG Feiyue sneakers from China — have to represent my culture!” says Joanna Fu, associate editor at Hypebeast. “They’re the most comfortable shoes I own and genuinely stay true to the original 1920s retro look and branding — white canvas upper, yellow gum outsole, and a really nice vintage red-and-blue logo.” The shoes have a cult following and Fu says they’re the flagship shoes for monks and martial artists. “The original versions cost around $100 HKD, about $13 USD, which is what you’d expect to pay for one drink in Manhattan,” she tells us. Fu prefers her white sneakers broken-in: “I really can’t stand brand-new, crisp white sneakers. To me, beaten-up white sneakers are the best because they show some personality and stay true to the idea that sneakers are casual shoes that should be worn.”
Best platform white sneakers
Photographer and actress Sasha Frolova often wears Adidas, but says her true sneakers of choice are Skechers Shape Ups. “ I didn’t purchase them for their toning qualities, but they are truly a gift that keeps on giving,” Frolova tells us. “My chiropractor said my core was unusually strong.” The sneakers have a round bottom that gives an extra spring to your step, which, according to Frolova “really makes you want to hop around like a jelly bean.”
Best minimalist white sneakers
For a minimalist take on the trend (and a pair that might be confused with much more expensive Common Projects) Frye’s Ivy Sneakers are a good option. Blogger Soraya, of Soul of Soraya, says that she loves her Frye Ivy sneakers because of their “versatility and perfect fit.” She also praises the quality leather, and calls them a “classic essential” in her wardrobe. “I like that they are so comfortable and go with everything, from a good denim look and cute outerwear in winter to a full summer look, and even with a dress,” she says.
“As a stylist, I am on my feet most of the day, so wearing sneakers is usually a must for me,” says stylist and fashion consultant Lara Backmender, who identifies as “a bit of a sporty tomboy.” She rotates between a few pairs, but called out Feit as a favorite. “I love that they are a comfortable, chicer version of a sneaker, so I feel a bit more dressed up,” Backmender says. As for the high price, she tells us the shoes are completely handmade with beautiful leather. “Not only are they very special but I feel special in them.”
Best fashion white sneakers
“My holy grail all-white sneaker right now is the John Elliott x Nike Air Force 1, which is a superclean, God-is-in-the-details take on the Nike Air Force 1,” says Clara Jeon, co-founder of Chapter 2 Agency (who also happens to have great skin, according to The Cut). “It’s a triple-white shoe, but the layers of design details create illusions of color and texture when you get up close,” she says of the quick-to-sell out sneakers.
Jeon also told us about these Reebok by Pyer Moss sneakers, which she says are her other favorite all-white pair at the moment. “This sneaker is like sculpture,” she says. “The design is like a complete reconceptualization of what we think of as a classic basketball sneaker, and there are little details in the most unexpected places on the shoe that make it feel really personal.” They’re a guaranteed head-turner, too. “Without fail, I get compliments every single time I wear this shoe,” Jeon says.
“Yeezy is basically the Farrow and Ball of sneakers,” says Oh. “ The Kanye x Adidas line brings nuances to the color white that you never even knew you needed. But you kinda do.” Oh sometimes opts for the sleek original Yeezy Boost 350s, but if she wants a chunky dad-style shoe she’ll go for the Yeezy Boost 500s — and the white colorways get pretty granular, “from purist ‘Triple White,’ icy ‘Cloud White,’ vintage ‘Bone White,’ or even tahini-colored ‘Desert Rat,’” she says. “Literally, a white sneaker for every mood.“
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