Explore the fine craftsmanship and innovative designs from the best designer sneakers available online from luxury brands.
In Search of the Best Designer Sneakers for Men
In 2020, the global market for sneakers was worth roughly $79 billion, and it’s expected to grow to $120 billion by 2026. How did sneakers become so popular and profitable? And when did this casual shoe become luxury apparel?
During the 19 century, the first sneakers appeared as rubber-soled shoes for sports and leisure. But it was only in the first decades of the 20 century that they became widely used across different social classes and designed for various sports.
During the First World War, Keds took off as a mass-marketed canvas sneaker. In 1918, Converse released a basketball shoe, the All-Star, which was further improved on and endorsed by Chuck Taylor. Adidas made its name with running shoes, famously worn by Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics.
For decades, sneakers continued to serve a primary purpose of enhancing comfort and performance during physical activities. However, with the rise of Nike in the 1970s, they also became a fashion statement, a regular part of stylish outfits. And it was in the 1980s that Gucci became the first brand to realize the potential of turning an ordinary sneaker into luxury apparel.
With the rise of sneaker fashion and a growing number of celebrity endorsements, it became apparent that sneakers could be associated with exclusivity. A tennis shoe, like the one Gucci first released in 1984, could have an aura of wealth and high status.
Luxury sneakers can still be used for physical activity, but their main goal is a display of personal style and expensive tastes. Some are more minimalistic in appearance, while others use dramatic and extravagant designs. The following are currently the best designer sneakers for men.
The Best Luxury Sneakers for Men
The high-end brands on this list sell some of the most exclusive and expensive luxury sneakers for men. (See this separate post for a look at some of the most expensive shoes on the internet, from $2,000 Embellished Patent-Leather Loafers from Tom Ford to $10,000 Alligator Leather Oxfords from Berluti.)
From its founding in the 19th century, Berluti has shown a mastery of shoemaking and leather craft. Some of Berluti’s most beautiful sneakers are made of the brand’s signature Venezia leather, which has a deep and rich coloring. No sneaker from this brand costs less than $1,000, and the models made of alligator leather come close to $9,000.
The brilliant shoe designs of Christian Louboutin go beyond the iconic red-soled stilettos and extend to men’s sneakers. Some of the designs are monochromatic and more minimalist in style, while others feature spikes, bold patterns, glossy colors, and thick soles with red highlights. This luxury footwear costs at least several hundred dollars, and some models are priced at over $3,000.
In the last several years, Visvim has appeared in the news as a desirable choice for Kanye West and other celebrities. Sneakers from the Japanese brand look soft and earthy, and they may have leather lining and hand-sewn components. Ranging from $480 to a little over $1,500, the well-constructed footwear includes fringed moccasin-sneaker hybrids and canvas shoes with a vintage vibe.
Costing up to several hundred dollars, sneakers from Off-White have been shaped by the creative vision of the brand’s late founder, Virgil Abloh. Dynamic design elements, like scrawled text and the brand’s arrow logo, make the sneakers look bold and full of energy. One of the most sought-after models is the vividly green Air Force 1, a collaboration with Nike.
Golden Goose specializes in luxury sneakers and has them crafted by hand in Italy. These sneakers have a distressed style and a variety of decorative features, including leather stars, silver mesh, and multicolored lettering. Prices start at $350 and climb to over $2,000.
The minimalist sneakers from Common Projects have won an enthusiastic following. They’re available at a variety of high-end retailers, including Mr. Porter, and they’re generally priced between $400 and $700. Although the brand is based in New York, the shoes are produced in Italy using fine leather and suede.
Founded by identical twin brothers, DSquared2 has a youthful and playful vibe. The sneakers often have dynamic patterns and bold lettering, and many of them display a Canadian maple leaf as a tribute to the brothers’ birthplace. The shoes typically cost several hundred dollars, though some are under $500.
Founded in the French Alps, Moncler made its mark on the fashion world with winter apparel, particularly its iconic puffy jacket. The brand also produces comfortable luxury sneakers, which are priced between $500 and $960.
Some are slender slip-on sneakers, while others look more robust and have thicker soles, like the Silencio model. The classic red, white, and blue of the Moncler logo are dominant colors in the collection.
Luxury shoe brand Magnanni dates back to 1954, when Antonio Magnanni founded the label in Almansa, Spain. The company, which is known for high-quality, handcrafted shoes made using traditional techniques, has a strong omnichannel presence in brick-and-mortar stores worldwide and online via luxury retailers including Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. Look to Magnanni for an exquisite selection of dressy luxury leather sneakers and cross-over hybrid dress shoes. I adore the look of Magnanni’s high-end, dressed-up Arco leather sneakers.
For over a century, Balenciaga has been known for bold and innovative fashion, and the men’s sneakers come in a range of eye-catching designs. Costing at least several hundred dollars, they include slender high-top sneakers with the Balenciaga monogram and the powerful Defender sneakers, which have remarkably thick tire-tread soles. Other standouts come from the Speed 2.0 line, a flexible and lightweight variety that resembles socks.
The glamorous and sensational Versace keeps expanding its array of sneakers for men. The latest addition is the Odissea, which is made of calf leather and displays the brand’s Medusa logo in a three-dimensional patch on the tongue. Versace sneakers, which have a price range of roughly $600 to $1,100, include shoes with gorgeous geometric patterns and a few golden Fendace models, part of a capsule collection with Fendi.
Amiri streetwear ranges from iconic skinny jeans to strikingly designed sneakers. These include the popular Skel Top sneaker line, with its decoration of leather bones, and the Court Hi models, which are made of nappa leather and canvas and feature different motifs, such as dark stars or a checkerboard pattern. Prices fall between $550 and $750.
Priced between $650 and $1,450, men’s sneakers from Gucci include collaborations with Adidas and The North Face, along with the Italian brand’s own variety of designs. Among your choices are multicolored basket sneakers and monochromatic leather sneakers embossed with the world-famous double “G.” The thick-soled sneakers from the Rhyton line have a vintage feel, and some are decorated with vivid prints.
Giuseppe Zanotti is famous for extravagant footwear, each pair expertly crafted in Italy. Among the men’s sneakers, you’ll find models with reflective gold fabric, side zippers, crocodile-print leather, or a rubber sole shaped like a neon-colored cobra. Prices may climb above $1,200, but most models cost less than $1,000.
Dolce & Gabbana
Some of the sneakers from Dolce & Gabbana reflect the brand’s showiness, like the calfskin models decked with studs and the slip-on variety sparkling with crystals. But others, like the monochromatic sneakers in black or white, are much simpler in design and can go well with many outfits. The highly varied footwear from this Italian fashion house has a price range of $500 to over $4,000.
At Prada, many of the designer sneakers for men reflect the brand’s origins as a shop specializing in fine leather goods. The sneakers, which cost between $700 and $1,900, often make use of leather in their sleek designs. Some sneakers blend patent leather with technical fabric, and you can also find leather sneakers with the Italian brand’s enameled triangle logo.
Lanvin, a French fashion house founded in the 19th century, continues to produce beautiful apparel that generates a lot of hype, such as the chunky and colorful Curb sneakers. Other sneaker varieties, like the sturdy Flash-X, also come in vivid colors, though if you want shoes with a more low-key appearance, check out the slim leather sneakers from the DBB1 line. Prices range from $600 to $2,500.
Committed to sustainability, Veja uses recycled and ethically sourced materials for its stylish sneakers, which display the brand’s bold “V” logo. Some of the sneakers are also free from animal products. Prices are generally less than $200, making Veja one of the most affordable luxury brands on this list.
Once a supplier of leather goods to Spanish royalty, Loewe continues to excel in the craftsmanship of luxury apparel, including high-end running shoes for men. The soft color palette and the scrolling “L” logo make these shoes look light, as if they could tread on air. Made with calfskin, denim, nylon, and other expertly used materials, the shoes cost between $400 and $800.
Soft and classy leather sneakers are available from Santoni, an Italian brand that relies on traditional shoemaking techniques. Priced between $600 and $800, the sneakers are made in Italy. Regardless of whether they look more dressy or more casual and sporty, they all have an understated elegance.
Alexander McQueen, who got his start in fashion as a tailor, made his brand known for pushing boundaries. You can see this rule-breaking attitude in the oversized sneakers, some of them embellished with punk studs or graffiti print. The British brand’s entire sneaker collection for men has a price range of $540 to roughly $2,000.
Confidence and sophistication are defining qualities of the Tom Ford brand, which was launched by a highly celebrated American designer. Many of the sneakers have a retro style that makes them feel timeless, and the Leather Cambridge is one of the excellent options for a minimalist white sneaker. Prices start at a little under $900.
Sneakers from Zespa typically have a slim profile and a clean design without flashy colors. Founded in Aix-en-Provence, which is in the southern part of France, the brand uses a variety of high-quality materials, including Italian calf leather. The cost of these shoes hovers around $200.
Loro Piana is famous for finding the best sources of cashmere and other raw materials, and many of the brand’s beautifully crafted sneakers contain wool, silk, or goatskin. Others use technical fabric and the brand’s proprietary waterproof technology. All the shoes are made in Italy, and their prices range from $800 to $2,400.
When shopping at Burberry, look beyond the coats and scarves, and check out the sneakers for men. Some have futuristic designs that use quilted leather or mesh and nylon, while others sport the British brand’s timeless check pattern. Prices generally fall between $500 and $900.
Rick Owens is known for an aesthetic of glamorous grunge, and the brand’s sneakers often have dark colors, thick soles, a distressed style, or a boot-like appearance. The DRKSHDW streetwear line features the brand’s most popular casual shoes. You’ll find some models for under $200, while others, like the Strobe Runway Geobasket, cost more than $1,200.
Brunello Cucinelli, an Italian brand that became a Silicon Valley favorite, is best known for high-end casual clothes. The men’s sneakers are a great example of the brand’s understated elegance. Priced between $800 and $1,200, these beautifully crafted sneakers have an earth-tone palette and are made from a variety of high-quality materials, including calfskin and suede.
Loafers are the most highly recommended shoe from J.M. Weston, but the French brand also excels at men’s sneakers, which range from canvas tennis shoes to monochromatic sneakers made with soft calfskin. All of the models have simple, tasteful designs and can be seamlessly incorporated into a variety of outfits. Prices fall between $400 and $600.
Known best for fur outerwear and leather handbags, Fendi also offers men’s sneakers that display the Italian brand’s distinctive double “F.” Ranging from $700 to $2,500, these bold shoes are mostly low-top varieties, and the materials include nuback leather, nylon, and suede.
Maison Margiela is known for quirky design choices, like the espadrille style introduced to the Replica sneakers or the split-toe construction of the Tabi model. Most notably, the French brand’s collaboration with Reebok has yielded a slip-on sneaker with thick rubber soles and a cut-out construction for its uppers. Some Maison Margiela sneakers cost a little under $500, but others are nearly $1,000.
The edgy streetwear of Vetements includes sneakers with striking and playful design elements, such as chunky soles and emoji embellishments. Among the notable models are collaborations with Reebok Classics and with New Rock. Prices may exceed $1,500.
Kiton is renowned for its mastery of traditional tailoring, and the brand’s sneakers are handmade in Italy. The materials include calfskin and knit cashmere, and the prices range from several hundred dollars to almost $2,000. With minimal use of loud colors, the footwear has a classic elegance.
When you buy shoes from Philipp Plein, the King of Bling, you can expect flashy designs, such as high-top sneakers covered in rhinestones and sporting a skull-and-bones decoration. Even the monochromatic shoes catch the eye, because they use materials like python leather and display the brand’s logo prominently. Most of the models cost more than $1,000, and some are over $7,000.
Comme des Garcons
Comme des Garcons is best known for wild creativity and playfulness, qualities that stand out in the Japanese brand’s collaboration with Converse. The Comme des Garcons Play logo, a heart with eyes, pops up whimsically on Converse Chuck Taylors, fun shoes that can be yours for $150. You can also find sneakers that look more powerful and masculine, like the most recent collaborations between Comme des Garcons Homme Plus and Nike: the Air Max 97 and the Terminator.
Which Luxury Sneakers Do You Love?
Drop a comment with any brands that you think should be added to the list, and share your opinions about the best sneaker designs.
About JakeJake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age. Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and/or fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.
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