WORDS BY STEPHEN YU
Nike. Adidas. Yeezy. Everybody is a sneakerhead these days. Every Tom, Dick & Harry is a self-styled sole collector. Off-White x Nike. Tick. Balenciaga Triple S. Tick. Gucci Rhyton. Tick. Everywhere you turn there's a sea of beaten-up Vans, a wave of grubby Converse. Everyone is at it.
Don't get us wrong, we're not complaining. We're happy it's acceptable to wear sneakers to go 'out-out' in (just don't step on them). We're stoked that bae doesn't have to smush her toes into heels anymore too. It's just, that OG sneakerheads and ahead-of-the-curve fashionistas need someway to flex their superiority right?
So how best to smarmily showcase your superior sneaker knowledge? How to finally get one up over that Scandinavian blogger in her New Balance 990's? Whether you're an OG sneakerhead who knows that the Atmos Viotech Air Max 1 was the last of its kind to have that perfect pointy toebox, or perhaps a fashionista who wore Stan Smith's before Phoebe Philo made them cool again, or just a stylish individual who wants to wear different crepes than the rest, take a bold leap and shop from an alternative sneaker brand.
Yes, Farfetch has boldly gone where no eCommerce platform has gone before, we've put together a list of the most slept on sneaker brands. That's right, no swoosh, no stripes, no triple letters. It's hard to stunt without the big hitters of the sportswear world on your feet, but we promise it'll be okay. This is what it feels like to be a trendsetter, my friend. Read on.
If you can't resist a collaboration:
Asics broke their collab virginity and created genuine sneaker gold with one of London's most exciting designers - Kiko Kostandinov. Having worked with the likes of Stussy and Mackintosh with basically one foot still in CSM, Kiko has quickly risen to the top of the menswear world with an undefinable vision that spans deconstruction, workwear and sportswear. For his sneakers, the London-based Bulgarian designer meticulously studied the Asics archives to create new silhouettes that are both dazzling and cohesive with his runway shows. Also, Kiko is one of the few people who can design for two footwear brands at once - he also has his own line with Camper Lab.
If you're doing an Ironman in the morning, but front row at fashion week in the evening:
Worn by vegan endurance athletes, Palace skaters, DJ's and fashion editors alike, Salomon is a French footwear brand with some serious outdoor pedigree. With over 70 years experience in creating a world beating ski, hiking and trail running sneakers, a pair of Salomons has everything you need to navigate the wilderness, or just survive the dance floor and bleary-eyed walks home. The newly created S/Lab line sees Salomon's standard colourways replaced with sleek matte blacks or lairy vibrant hues. Oh, and even Ralph Lauren is a fan.
If your monthly foot massage bill is astronomical:
There's orthopaedic, then there's these. As the running world seemed to be veering towards knitted uppers and ever-slimmer sole units, this French sneaker company went the opposite way. Hoka One One is the name, cushioning is the game. The chunky midsole makes running rocky mountains feel like stomping molehills. Act fast though, the black colourways sell out quick and Hoka is already popular with the Japanese and just about everyone attending fashion week. Having collaborated with Engineered Garments recently, Hoka is only bouncing up too.
If you want the original and the best:
It's likely your favourite designer completely jacked their chunky dad sneaker silhouette from Our Legacy. The Swedish jawn gods were the first to put the ph fat Vibram sole unit on a sneaker. Paired with the brand's exceptional eye for unique proprietary fabrics, you're in for a minimalist yet exceptionally luxurious sneaker.
If you want to capitalise on the hiking trend:
Italian hiking brand Roa are dedicated to producing quality mountaineering footwear whilst never sacrificing on aesthetics. Hot off the back of collaborations with Alyx and Brain Dead, their rugged and weatherproof trek-ready are the perfect boot sneaker hybrid for those unexpected wet days.
If you need some pieces that fill the gap between streetwear and high-fashion:
Up there with high-grade flowers and one-eared artists, Filling Pieces is one of the Netherland's best homegrown exports. Whether you're looking for something classic, or something super functional and innovative, these premium sneakers effortlessly toe the line between streetwear and high-fashion, making for one seriously versatile piece of footwear. Handcrafted from the finest European leathers and technical fabrics, the quality of their footwear rivals that of the finest fashion houses.
If you want to wear the Hermès of footwear:
With a CV that includes co-founding footwear brand Gourmet, you can trust Jon Buscemi's eponymous footwear label to be the creme de la creme of the luxury sneaker world. Lovingly handcrafted by Italian artisans with jewellery like metal hardware, Buscemi takes classic athletic silhouettes and elevates them to the level of the world's finest leather houses. Cool fact: the first Buscemi shoe paid homage to the Hermès Birkin bag, see if you can spot how.
If you want to save the planet through footwear:
If you're a failed eco-warrior who just can't cut out single-use plastics, red meat or air travel, Veja is the shoe of choice for you. No hemp or dreadlocks required, just clean silhouettes constructed from fair trade sourced organic materials or vegan-friendly leathers. Who knew that fashion with a conscience could look this good?
If you like big (pro)portions:
Hailing from Stockholm, Eytys is famous for two things - it's subversive and tongue-in-cheek advertising and it's chunky soled shoes with oh so right oversized proportions. Their obsession with 90's computing, advertising, art and celebrity culture makes for extremely meme-worthy and uber cool branding, that spills over to the shoe design. Even their chunkiest of silhouettes is somehow proportional with a timeless aesthetic that works across many different looks.