WORDS BY STEPHEN YU
While nothing beats the feeling of breaking out a fresh pair of crisp white sneakers, it only takes a few scuff marks for that initial buzz to fizzle out. Enter the unsung hero of footwear: the triple black sneaker. Whatever the weather, whatever the occasion, all-black sneakers are hardwearing and always cool, making them a worthy investment for your wardrobe and a solid sub to have in your footwear first 11. If you’re yet to feel the unwavering loyalty that only the best all-black sneakers can provide, it’s never too late to take the plunge – take your pick from our selection of the best styles below.
A hoops legend turned street-style icon, the Air Force 1 has become part of the uniform in basketball courts, hipster hangouts and inner-city schools across the globe. The undisputed king of black-on-black sneakers, this timeless Swoosh design’s widespread adoption is due to the fact that they look equally good with skinny jeans, sweatpants, shorts, and tailored trousers. Air Force 1, we salute you for your service to the streets.
Asics is having a bit of a moment. Off the back of collaborations with fashion heavyweights like GmBH, Awake, and Kiko Kostadinov, their sneakers have become the de facto footwear of choice among Japanophiles, fashionistas and club-loving Berliners. As a major player in the sportswear scene, performance and technology are the driving forces behind each of the Japanese athletic brand’s offerings, meaning they make some of the most lightweight and comfortable sneakers out there. This retro silhouette is a technical runner from the Noughties but still feels like the epitome of 2020’s coolest black sneakers, and wouldn’t look out of place paired with either Acronym techwear or Yohji Yamamoto.
Having the latest Demna Gvasalia-designed Balenciaga sneakers on your feet is like a one-way ticket to the upper echelons of fashion. The most recent Track silhouette in all-black will have you forgetting all about the Triple S, and feel a little less daunting than going out in Balenciaga’s more ‘out there’ colorways. You’ll marvel at the intricate construction and reflective details hidden within these modern masterpieces; best of all, they can double up as weights for your next Barry’s Bootcamp at-home workout, too.
Though sneakers have infiltrated the approved dress codes of even the world’s most exclusive destinations, there are times when your beaten-up running sneakers just won’t do. Enter the Common Projects Achilles. Made in the style of a classic tennis shoe, these versatile styles work in every setting, whether that’s a country club or a nightclub. Crafted from luxurious Italian leather usually reserved for the finest dress shoes, they’re practically begging to be worn sockless with a suit, if their appearance on red carpets everywhere is anything to go by.
Lacing up a pair of Converse is more than just a style choice. When you wear Converse, you’re tapping into decades of sporting pedigree and counter-cultural affiliation – All-Stars make you cool by association. Pick any one of the world’s most exciting youth subcultures, whether that’s hardcore punk or New York skateboarding, and it’s likely you’ll find a pair of Converse in the foreground of its most iconic moments. Basically, there’s nothing cooler than the original black high-top sneakers.
Hoka One One is the name, cushioning is its game. The self-proclaimed maximalists of running shoe design, Virgil Abloh-approved Hoka have been churning out fat-soled sneakers since 2009, meaning they predate Balenciaga’s Triple S by almost a decade. But unlike their high-fashion rivals, these oversized sneakers are actually good for running in too – we’ve even seen Hokas crossing the finish lines of major marathons. This hybrid silhouette blends the all-conditions functionality of a hiking boot with the easy-wearing comfort of a sneaker. No wonder they’re one of the few brands that Kanye West will ditch his Yeezys for.
Famously ‘Worn by supermodels in London and dads in Ohio’, there’s a reason why off-duty models and your father-in-law choose New Balance 990’s – complete and utter comfort. Proudly made in America, they put all other sneakers to shame in the quality department and in a triple black colourway they’re practically indestructible. In other words, look out for ex-models still wearing their New Balance in retirement homes in the future.
Ever since the Neil Barrett-helmed ‘Sport’ line burst onto the scene in the Noughties, Prada has been at the forefront of high-fashion sportswear. Love them or hate them, the Cloudbust sneaker sees a return to the innovative and sporty footwear shapes that made Prada Sport such a success, but with contemporary design elements like a bubbly sole unit and oversized proportions. Crafted from the Italian fashion house’s trademark ballistic nylon technical fabric with 3D rubber detailing, these futuristic black high-top shoes look and feel like the sportswear of tomorrow. Like wearing your most comfy socks – but comfier.
Californian sidewalk surfer meets LA cool meets Parisian chic in these slip-on sneakers from Saint Laurent. A luxe spin on the ‘Lords of Dogtown’ wardrobe essential, the classic Vans-inspired shape is elevated through premium suede uppers and a leopard-print heel tab, adding a touch of the brand’s signature rock’n’roll edge. Swapping cheap white vulcanized rubber for something thicker and more durable means that although these black sole sneakers weren’t made for skating in, it’s nice to know you definitely could if you needed to.
Bolstered by a love for all things hikercore, Salomons finally broke into the mainstream through a collaboration with hip Parisian retailer The Broken Arm in 2018, and it looks like they’re here to stay. Mixing Everest-proof technical materials with idiot-proof lacing systems and a sporty-sleek aesthetic, these are one of the only sneakers you won’t flinch in when someone steps on your toes. If they can survive the slopes and most hardcore of trekking expeditions, we think they can manage the hordes of pointy loafers and bootcut denims down your local bar.