Trainers are big business. While there has been a huge burst in the fashionable sneaker market over the last few years – driven by international labels like Yeezy and Off-White capitalising on the “ugly dad” sneaker movement – I personally haven’t fallen for the chunky sneaker trend. There’s something about the maximalist, bulky silhouette that’s too loud for my own sense of style and certainly doesn’t mix with linen, which makes up 99 per cent of my wardrobe. In my mind, most people who buy into this clunky catastrophe will eventually have regrets. Overall, it’s unflattering and, if you’re adding any embellishments, pretty hideous.
I have put together my personal guide to the more honourable sneaker trends, while shedding some light on how to pull them off.
Minimalist, clean sneakers
I love the look of a clean, white minimalist sneaker. The less fuss, the better. American-Italian footwear designer Common Projects are definitely my top pick in this category. They really make the perfect sneaker. Their classic design can be both smart and casual, depending on how you wear them. I prefer to pair them with a classic silhouette – casual linen pants, for instance – and a plain crew-neck tee. I stick with one colour palette on top, whether a full navy look or rust, which is a new tone for us at Venroy.
But the one rule here: you have to keep your Common Projects clean at all times. There is nothing worse than seeing them left scratched and grimy. That means it’s time to get a new pair.
How to clean your sneakers
The key to cleaning your trainers is having a bucket of warm water with a small amount of Omo washing liquid on hand. Always be near a running tap so you can continually rinse the cloth with clean water.
Start from the upper part of the shoe, especially if you’re cleaning a few sneakers at a time. The bottom is usually the grubbiest so that should go last. It sounds obsessive, but this way you can preserve the cleanliness of the cloth and make sure you’re not just shifting dirt around the shoe.
Also, you must have clean shoelaces. Grimy laces can take down the entire look. I put mine through the washing machine regularly to make sure they’re stark white.
Another piece of essential advice from a sneaker freak is that you clean any markings and stains immediately. Otherwise, depending on the fabric, it can seep into the shoe and become permanent.
Comfort is key. Your look is only enhanced when you feel at ease in an outfit. Nike Flyknits are my wardrobe staple as they’re super lightweight and breathable. I classify them as an everyday shoe. I have them in every colour available. They fit like a glove and have the durability to wear both day and night. They’re an obvious choice for a more casual outfit. Lately I’ve been getting the most wear out of the React Vapor Street model.
Shoes that once belonged on the court are enjoying a renaissance on the street. Adidas’s Stan Smiths lead the pack, predictably. You can’t talk tennis sneakers without mentioning them. They’re an iconic, heritage shape and while they’re best known as a sports shoe (named after the American star of the same name), I love them for their cool, classic appeal. I prefer the Primeknit model as it’s the most comfortable (I don’t wear the leather option). I recently wore mine with a relaxed, bottle-green linen suit, and now I’m not sure I can ever wear loafers or a dress shoe again.
Although I wear these less often, luxury, designer sneakers – a trend led by labels including Balenciaga, Gucci and Versace – elegantly blur the line between a casual and evening shoe, and can easily be dressed up
I recently bought a pair of Prada sneakers, which are definitely one of the more expensive options, so I try not to trash them. The silhouette is streamlined and slick, with minimal branding. It’s almost a robotic look. I pair them with a casual shirt and shorts, as the contrast between a high-end, more formal shoe and casual wear works well.
When buying designer shoes, look for minimal branding. Personally, I avoid sneakers with bold logos. But if the shoe is simple, then a small logo doesn’t bother me too much.
This is definitely a more controversial trend but I have to say, I like it. I was initially hesitant to invest in what almost resembles a “space boot”, but Balenciaga and Maison Margiela’s versions got me over the line. Both labels use a rubber sole, giving the impression of an ankle boot.
I have to travel a lot for work and often see travellers wearing them. I think they’re super convenient in transit because they’re easy to take on and off. One piece of advice: they don’t look great with shorts. A full pant is essential to pull off this contemporary look.
Sandals are the new sneakers. This season, they’re definitely my choice of summer footwear. The ease of taking them on and off makes them an attractive choice, and despite what people think, they can also be dressed up. We’ve just released our own pair using nappa leather and a cow suede in sand, navy, sage and white, with linen and terry towel uppers. They’re unisex and super comfortable. As they’re leather I don’t wear mine to the beach, but I pair them with a relaxed trouser or a more formal pant and haven’t yet been barred from a pub for doing so.
Sean Venturi is the founding designer of Venroy, a Sydney-based label specialising in swimwear and linen-suit separates, with fans from New York to Tokyo.