WORDS BY STEPHEN YU
Minimalism can be a word that sends shivers down every fashion fan’s spine. Culling your wardrobe to reduce the number of items you own? Nah mate… being materialistic is what we do best. Mark Zuckerburg can take his daily hoodie and jeans uniform and do one, we’re happy with decision fatigue and overflowing closets.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. Constructing a minimalist wardrobe can mean selecting pieces from minimalist designers or silhouettes, and we know just where to start. A minimalist shoe is the perfect antithesis to the oversized athletic sneakers that prevail today. Clean and minimally branded with subdued colourways rather than multi-panelled and overtly branded, the minimalist sneaker was designed to be worn everyday, not just with that one outfit you post on IG. Immune to trends, these timeless sneakers are made with quality materials so you can wheel them out at any and every occasion for years to come too. Keep reading to find out our pick of the best minimalist sneakers.
A minimal shoe with maximum clout, the Alexander McQueen oversized sneaker has been a street style favourite for almost half a decade now. Adored by Instagram influencers, fashion editors, footballers and rappers alike, this minimalist sneaker is the one for you if you’re all about the fit pics and likes on social media. This sneaker pairs the uppers of an Adidas Stan Smith with a chunky sole unit and fat laces.
Nobody does vintage quite like Gucci, so if it’s a retro-looking minimalist sneaker you’re after then the Gucci Ace is for you. Reminiscent of athletic shoes from the ‘70s, the Ace is a minimalist shoe with maximum versatility due to an array of different colourways and details. If the signature green and red Gucci webbing is too subtle for you, then swap it for loud animal embroidery, or pop culture branding spin-offs, and an array of different materials, fabrics and prints. Destined to become a cult classic, bag yours now to add a little old-school fun to your minimalist wardrobe.
On this minimalist sneaker from Golden Goose, a retro silhouette is combined with traditional Venetian craftsmanship techniques. With their typical sneaker being heavily distressed with a rock’n’roll edge, this offering is uncharacteristically demure in comparison, but we like it. The white leather uppers feature a stylish perforated detailing, and the sneaker takes on a deadstock look with a yellowing crepe sole, laces and combined tongue and toebox. Gold branding is contrasted with a metallic silver heel tab, and we love the fat welt of the sole. Another perennial favourite with the fashion crowd.
The minimalist sneaker that started it all. The Common Projects Achilles single handedly kickstarted the luxury sneaker segment way back in 2004, setting the template for minimal sneakers – hand-stitched uppers constructed from premium Italian leather with a hard wearing Margom sole. Now, even amongst a sea of imitators (you’ll see it’s gold-stamped branding replicated everywhere), it still stands out as one of the finest minimalist sneakers ever created. Own the original, and the best.
Even at it’s tamest, Prada’s mainline can be anything but minimal, but their sports diffusion line, Linea Rossa, presents a vision of minimalist fashion at it’s finest. With its origins lying in the Neil Barrett-designed Prada Sport that many would say was the starting point to ‘athleisure’, Linea Rossa sees a return to the luxury sports aesthetic that made its 90s counterpart so successful. While the Prada America’s Cup sneaker is a bit too futuristic and technical to ever be deemed minimalist, this sneaker is different. It blends the uppers of an all-white tennis sneaker silhouette with the classic iconic red Prada branding on the tongue. Both a look to the future, and nod to the past.
For minimalistic design with minimal impact on the environment look no further than Veja. Looking and feeling every bit like a normal all-white sneaker, there’s a whole load of social responsibility hidden within this minimalist shoe. The uppers are made from sustainably sourced leathers, and tanned using chemicals that are safe for the environment. The lining and laces are crafted from organic cotton – it’s better for the soil and bought at a fair price from producers. By using only wild Amazonian rubber in their soles and branding, Veja are helping to preserve the Amazon rainforest too. Adding to your sneaker collection has never felt so good.
Don’t think minimalism can’t borrow from other trends. These minimalist sneakers from Stella McCartney fuse chunky oversized proportions with a very in-vogue athletic aesthetic. The retro-style uppers are finished with a thick platform sole to create perhaps the world’s cleanest dad shoe. We like to think of these as the Balenciaga Triple S’s zenned out and classier little sister. Oh, and in true Stella McCartney style they’re made from faux leather construction, so they’re ethical too.
A minimalist sneaker doesn’t have to mean minimal colour. If their origins and name are anything to go by, then Axel Arigato borrows from two undeniable masters in the art of minimal – namely the Swedish and the Japanese – to create the Clean 90 Sneaker, and we can confirm it does exactly what it says on the tin. This nineties inspired silhouette blends simplistic low top design with tasteful colour highlights – a gum sole, contrasting grey heel tab and suede toe panel, blue tongue trim and gold lace tips. It’s colourful, but not in your face.
A minimalist sneaker with the same construction as the finest Northamptonshire-made Jermyn Street sold shoes? Yes please. Church’s have been making handmade shoes since the 1600’s and are one of England’s most prestigious footwear brands. With this plimsoll-style sneaker, expect the same quality leather and handcrafted construction as you’d find on Church’s brogues or derby shoes. Just as classy is it’s more formal counterparts, but much more comfy, these shoes blend the best of both worlds and feature minimal branding – just a branded tongue tab and mid-panel.
Looking for one of the best minimalist shoes for men? Grenson has got you covered. Designed to be your perfect minimalist everyday shoe, the Grenson Low Top comes in an all-white colourway that goes with everything in your wardrobe. It’s streamlined one-piece uppers are overlaid with a toecap, lacestays and heel tab for just the most minimalistic of details. All this with the craftsmanship of one of Britain’s greatest shoemakers.