18 Luxury Sneaker Brands That Will Take Your Sneaker Game To The Next Levelby | May 26, 2019
There’s never been a better time to invest in a pair of high-end luxury sneakers than right now. The last decade has witnessed a euphoric rise of sneaker culture, moving upward from the street to the runways when the biggest luxury fashion houses decided to embrace the sneaker and put their own spin on it. No longer limited to athletic and sport oriented activities or basketball or skateboarding, sneakers are now seen ubiquitously spotted across the world on celebrities, street style ruglars, fashion icons, and Instagram influencers. Call it the Kanye West effect with his Yeezys taking over the world, or Virgil Abloh fusing street with luxury, or just a cultural shift to a more casual way of life—the last few years have seen some of the best designs and coolest sneakers like they’ve never been done before. If you’re considering adding another hot pair to your sneaker collection, here’s a round-up of the best luxury sneaker brands that are worth your money.
Vetement founder Demna Gvasalia’s appointment as Creative Director has established Balenciaga as the fastest growing brand in Kering’s luxury portfolio. Shifting the focus from predecessor Alexander Wang’s athleisure-military aesthetic to normcore, Gvasalia brought back wardrobe staples with his disruptive approach. With the resurgence of ugly being the new pretty, Balenciaga’s minimal Sock Sneakers took the footwear market by storm, followed by the chunky Triple S sneakers. Aside from the fact that the Triple S are a rage with celebrities and influencers, they’re also the perfect embodiment of the ‘dad shoe’ trend.
Price Range: $700 - $1000
Most Popular: Speed Trainers; Triple S Trainers
Touted as the most valuable luxury brand in the world by Forbes, Louis Vuitton started off as a travel luggage label that ventured into the fashion market in 1997 under Marc Jacobs. Last year, amid retro-revival, Womenswear Creative Director Nicolas Ghesquière created the futuristic Arclight Trainer which quickly rose up the ranks and attained the status of the ‘It’ shoe for 2018. Although created for women, the off-kilter style found a fan in actor Jaden Smith. In early 2019, Virgil Abloh’s first ever sneaker collection as the menswear creative director hit stores after a seven month hiatus, establishing it as the most-anticipated sneaker drop of the year.
Price Range: $700 - $1600
Most Popular LV Arclight Sneakers; Offshore Sneakers; LV Trainer Sneaker Boot
Belgium-born acclaimed designer Raf Simons has served as creative director at iconic fashion houses that include Jil Sander, Dior, and Calvin Klein (remember the Kardashian-Jenner ad campaign?). In 2013, he collaborated with Adidas to revamp the Stan Smith sneakers with the perforated ‘R’ detail that immediately garnered a mass following. In the same year he began dabbling with the idea of a bulky high-fashion shoe much before anyone else, which took shape in the form of the Replicant Ozweego in poppy gradient colourways, finished with cut-out details that was released last month.
Price Range: $200 - $600
Most Popular: Stan Smith Sneakers; Ozweego Trainers; Replicant Ozweego Trainers
Gucci jumped onto the sneaker bandwagon with their iconic tennis shoe in 1984, marking itself as the first luxury brand to do so. Bearing the brand’s signature green and red stripes, it set the benchmark for sneaker designs to follow. Current creative director Alessandro Michele has masterminded several iterations of the classic Gucci Ace and chunky Rhyton Sneakers. With intended throwbacks to the major trends of the ’80s, from the brand’s kitschy iconography to neon colours, Gucci’s creations bring to life Michele’s surreal take on fashion. Add to the list the Flashtrek Sneakers that come decked with bejewelled straps and uber-bulky soles.
Price Range: $400 - $1800
Most Popular: Ace Sneakers; Rhyton Sneakers
Fear Of God
While working with Kanye West on Yeezy Season 1 and Justin Beiber for his Purpose World Tour merchandise, Jerry Lorenzo founded Fear of God in 2013. The brand’s aesthetic narrative seeks inspiration from cultural references including Lorenzo’s devout faith in Christianity, street culture, vintage design, and modernity, hailing it as a cult luxury streetwear brand. Whether it’s the retro-inspired Basketball Sneakers, the minimalist Tear Away Moc Sneakers, the Fear of God X Vans collection, or the highly-anticipated sneaker drops from the brand’s long-standing collaboration with Nike, Lorenzo’s designs often go out of stock as soon as they release.
Price Range: $200 - $1100
Most Popular: Nike Air Fear of God 1 Hi-Top Sneakers; 1987 Basketball Sneakers
From Jackie Onasis and Diana Vreeland to Jennifer Aniston and Lady Gaga, there probably isn’t a prominent figure that Valentino Garavani has not extended sartorial expertise to since the brands inception in 1960. Currently under the creative direction of Pierpaolo Piccioli the luxury fashion house has continued to reinvent itself by embracing inclusivity and continually referencing their archives for inspiration. With the iconic Rockstud Sneaker and the reimagined Open Sneaker splashed with the resurrected VLTN logo, Valentino has cemented its foothold as a brand that appeals to generations.
Price Range: $500 - $1200
Most Popular: VLTN Sock Sneakers; Open Sneakers; Rockstud Sneakers
British designer Alexander McQueen’s legacy continues to live through his eponymous luxury fashion house under Sarah Burton’s unparalleled creative direction. McQueens’ meticulous construction and theatrical designs are eminent in the collection of sneakers as well. The Oversized Sneaker, which is the most popular shoe from the luxury brand bears the signature chunky, bold soles that are balanced with clean silhouettes in solid hues, punctuated with minimal detailing, and injected with occasional pops of colour. While the shoe has been recreated in several unique variants, the shape and style has remained true to the original design.
Price Range: $400 - $1000
Most Popular: Oversized Sneakers; Hi-Top Oversized Sneakers
One of the biggest names in high-end luxury, Maison Margiela has been the indisputable king of ‘anti-fashion’ fashion, deconstructed silhouettes, and futuristic design since 1990. Many of his iconic footwear creations have found their way into the sneaker hall of fame. Whether it’s the Replica Sneakers, which were a high-end iteration of the training shoe created for aspirants of the German army, the iridescent leather Retro Fit Sneakers, the Fusion Sneakers that look like the result of a science lab accident, or the laceless Margiela Future Sneakers—Maison Margiela’s legacy is nearly untouchable.
Price Range: $400 - $1700
Most Popular: Replica Sneakers; Retro Fit Sneakers; Margiela Future Sneakers
Japanese brand Visvim is a perfect embodiment of founder Hiroki Nakamura’s two great loves—vintage design and tech innovation—which explains why he often dubs it as ‘Future Vintage’. Starting out as a footwear label in 2001, Visvim, as we know it today, is a lifestyle brand that has garnered a devoted cult following for its unique approach to streetwear and urban-utilitarian clothing. The FBT shoe which is a functional and innovative spin on Native American moccasins, is the most iconic creation from the brand, thus far. Fun Fact: the name FBT was inspired by the English new wave pop band Fun Boy Three, from when Nakamura was shown one of their album covers where lead singer Terry Hall was wearing moccasins.
Price Range: $600 - $1200
Most Popular: FBT Prime Runner, Maliseet Shaman
The Italian shoemaker burst into the footwear scene in 1994 with his fun, bejewelled statement heels for women, and went on to become a celebrity favourite, from Beyoncé to Lady Gaga. After being coerced by rapper Kanye West to design sneakers for him, he decided to lend his rock and roll aesthetic to sneakers and venture into mens shoes in 2011. Since then Giuseppe Zanotti’s sneakers have been synonymous with ‘street couture’, often adorned with quirky elements and artsy details, in unconventional colourways and surface treatments.
Price Range: $600 - $1200
Most Popular: Gail Sneakers; Frankie Sneakers; Kriss Sneakers
Conceived in New York in 2004 as a shared passion between founders Flavio Girolami and Peter Poopat, Common Projects is the OG vanguard of the luxury, minimalist, high-quality sneaker. Even at a time when everybody seems to be in tune with the ‘more-is-more’ philosophy and other brands are reviving chunky vintage designs, the luxury footwear label has remained true to its original simplistic design. Decorated with the tiniest detail, which is the shoes’ serial number in gold foil, the Achilles Sneaker has survived a decade of changing trends and found its way to the feet of A-list celebrities like Victoria Beckham, John Legend, Giselle Bundchen and Drake, amongst many many more.
Price Range: $400 - $700
Most Popular: The Original Achilles Sneakers; Achilles Retro Sneakers; Bball Sneakers
Y-3 Kaiwa Sneakers
Unhappy with the direction the fashion industry was headed in, legendary Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto approached Adidas in 2002 and Y-3 was born. The collaboration channeled Yamamoto’s avant garde aesthetic in to Adidas’ athletic flair at a time when athleisure was unheard of. The luxe sportswear collection encapsulates pieces where sci-fi meets goth ninja meets utilitarian, and has continued to rework the same aesthetic given its roaring success. It was in 2013 that the Qasa shoe was created, the now iconic sock like sneaker with an unconventionally bulbous sole, that further inspired the designs of many Adidas bestsellers including the Tubular Runner and Tubular X.
Price Range: $600 - $1200
Most Popular: Qasa Sneakers; Runner 4D Sneakers, Kaiwa Sneakers
Golden Goose Deluxe Brand
What do Kanye West, Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Hemsworth, Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, and Virgil Abloh have in common apart from their superstar status? They’re big fans of Golden Goose’s iteration of the ugly sneaker. And no this is not your run-of-the-mill chunky dad shoe meets sci-fi, but more along the lines of scruffed, scraped, taped, and distressed sneakers that embrace a ‘worn-in’ aesthetic. A passion project between husband and wife Gallo and Francesca Rinaldo who sought out to reimagine an unconventional approach to everyday luxury objects, Golden Goose’s ‘California-cool’ approach to design, coupled with unparalleled Italian craftsmanship, has been resonating with its legions of fans since early 2000.
Price Range: $400 - $1700
Most Popular: Superstar Sneakers; Hi-Star Sneakers; Ball-Star Sneakers
After founding Off-White in 2012, Virgil Abloh has earned an invincible status as the ultimate authority on luxe streetwear by moulding a unique MO that collaborates avant-garde fashion with street culture. The brand’s design ideology embraces a somewhat satirical approach that can often be seen in the form of iconography typical to American cities such as monochrome diagonal stripes, arrows, labels, industrial fabrics and detailing, and zip-tie tags. And then there is the signature labeling of obvious design elements in quotes—”shoelaces” on shoelaces, “foam” on foam, “air” on the Off-White X Nike Air Force 1.
Price Range: $200 - $700
Most Popular: Off-Court Sneakers; Runner Sneakers; Off-White X Nike Air Force 1
The first sneaker ever created by Miuccia Prada was a yachting shoe called PS0906, which was specifically designed for the elite Luna Rossa sailing team for the America’s Cup. The sneakers that followed took inspiration from the original, keeping the structure and style of the shoe clean and minimal, often characterized with an orthopedically designed sole, while exploring the technical prowess of hi-performance fabrics. Prada’s Punta Ala Sneaker found its way to the upper echelons of the ugly sneaker race, ironically becoming one of the most sought after luxury sneakers in the market.
Price Range: $500 - $1000
Most Popular: Punta Ala Sneaker; 4E2649 Leather Sneaker; Knit Fabric High-Top Sneakers
The fashion house that gave us the stellar ‘Le Smoking Tuxedo’, has had a colourful history since being founded in 1961. After being helmed by some of the greatest names in fashion including Alber Elbaz, Tom Ford, Stefano Pilati, and Hedi Slimane, Saint Laurent under Anthony Vaccarello’s creative vision is only soaring higher, in sales and its legendary status. In true luxury fashion sense, the brand referred the archives of the 80’s and 90’s, and created high-end versions of vastly popular footwear. The Bedford seeks inspiration from Converse All Stars, while the Lenny Hi-Top is redolent of the Nike Air Force 1, and the distressed SL24 sneaker might bring to mind Golden Goose’s signature style—the only thing setting them apart being Saint Laurent’s unique luxury adaptation and immaculate craftsmanship.
Price Range: $500 - $1600
Most Popular: Court Classic SL/06 Sneakers; Lenny Hi-Top Sneakers; Bedford Sneakers
Recently crowned as Europe’s most-searched luxury brand, when you speak of Tom Ford, you’re immediately transported to a fantastical world of fashion that is equal parts sensual and opulent, as it is understated and elegant. His collection of sneakers, which is currently limited to men’s styles only, are a perfect extension of his signature design sensibility that is evident in his menswear line. Sophisticated, crisp, clean, and very very dapper, they’re the kind of sneakers that you can wear with suits. The Warwick Burnished Leather Sneaker is the most stylish offering from the luxury label.
Price Range: $700 - $1400
Most Popular: Warwick Sneakers; Oxford Sneakers
Scandinavia is having a major moment in the fashion world right now, and if you’ve found yourself admiring the superbly dressed attendees at Oslo, Copenhagen, and Stockholm Fashion Weeks, then you may want to get familiar with Acne Studios. Originally conceived in Sweden as part of a creative collective called ACNE, founder Jonny Johansson’s disruptive and fashion-forward approach catapulted Acne Studios into the spotlight, and into the closets of fashion-savvy men and women. The Manhattan Sneaker is one of the purveyors of the dad shoe movement, and has cemented its foothold right on top of the ‘most coveted sneaker’s list’ for the current year.
Price Range: $200 - $600
Most Popular: Manhattan Sneakers; Technical Sneakers