The sneaker now known as the Stan Smith dates back to the early 1960s, when Adidas designed a shoe for French tennis player Robert Haillet. It wasn't until Haillet's retirement in 1971 that the sneaker took on the name and likeness of then-number one ranked tennis star Stan Smith.
In its more than 55 years of production (48 years officially as the Stan Smith), the sneaker has become one of Adidas' bestselling and its single longest lasting styles — and that's not by accident.
Although the shoe is now outdated from a performance standpoint, its style remains the same. It doesn't matter what style of clothing you wear most — the Stan Smith will look good with anything in your closet. You can't go wrong with the original white and green pair, but Adidas has plenty of colorway options if you're putting together a specific outfit or just want to step outside of norm.
Pros: Full-grain leather upper, affordable price, many colors available
Cons: Not great for performance, lacks significant arch support
The Cortez sneaker has a deep history that actually pre-dates Nike as a company. The very first iterations of the shoe came about in the mid-1960s when famed track coach and Blue Ribbon Sports (the company that would later become Nike) co-founder Bill Bowerman teamed up with Japanese footwear brand Onitsuka Tiger to design track sneakers.
After several name changes, they landed on The Aztec, but that named turned out to be too similar to Adidas' Azteca Gold track shoe. It is rumored that the sneaker was then renamed for the final time after the Spanish conquistador who defeated the Aztec Empire, Hernán Cortés, to one-up the Three Stripes.
When Blue Ribbon Sports went on to design its own footwear and change its name to Nike, the Cortez sneaker went along with the brand and officially released as we know it in 1972.
Despite being decades removed from its former state-of-the-art status, the Nike Cortez's deep-rooted running history is most likely why the silhouette is featured in the cult-classic film "Forrest Gump" where the eponymous main character runs across the entire country.
While the design itself is sleek and stylish, the Nike Cortez's presence in pop culture has cemented it as a sneaker that will forever be cool. On top of that, it's also very affordable.
Pros: Great history behind the design, lots of cultural relevance, good traction, affordable
Cons: Material gets dirty easily, particularly for light colors (we recommend using this spray protectant), foam sole gives over time, meaning they won't last forever
When the original Adidas Nite Jogger released in 1979, it featured bright colors and reflective accents to help make runners more visible at night. Forty years later, the sneaker returned with a completely revamped looked and updated technology.
The new model features full-length Boost midsoles for high energy return while running, OrthoLite sock liners for extra comfort, and a slew of reflective accents for high visibility at night. It's clear that Adidas went into redesigning the shoe with modern performance in mind, but also that they intended for the sneaker to be equally stylish.
The new design uses a combination of mesh, ripstop nylon, and Nubuck in a retro-inspired cut-and-sewn upper. If you love some of Adidas' classic runners and soccer shoes, the Nite Jogger is the stylish sneaker you'll want for performance.
The Nite Jogger isn't Adidas most advance running sneaker, but unless you're a distance runner, it doesn't really need to be. I found it to be suitable for jogging and doing other workouts in the gym, but even if you don't have plans to use them for performance, they'll pair well with jeans, shorts, and joggers. You can read my full review on the Adidas Nite Joggers here.
Pros: Lightweight, very comfortable, versatile for lifestyle and athletics
Cons: Mostly flat design may not be ideal if you need significant arch support
When it comes to style, sometimes less is more — and that's where the minimalistic sneaker comes into play.
The Glider Sneaker is Wolf & Shepherd's first crack at a sneaker, but they surely went into the project knowing what it takes to make a good pair. The brand was founded by a former Adidas and New Balance designer, and makes dress shoes with sneaker-like comfort — so it was no surprise that they nailed this pair right on the head.
The shoe features a classic low-top, vintage basketball-inspired silhouette set on top of a rubber cup sole, but its insole is what makes it so special. It features three layers of memory foam with one layer extending to the arch of your foot. With added arch support — something most dress sneakers skip out on — the Glider Sneaker is more than adequate for meeting the needs of city-goers and commuters.
If the premium leather pairs (available in onyx, white, and midnight navy) are too casual for you, the brand also makes a black patent leather pair that looks great even with formal suits.
At $225, the Glider isn't the cheapest or the most expensive minimal sneaker you can buy, but it's definitely the best value. The small amount of money you could save by shopping at a brand like Greats isn't worth the lack of comfort — and if you're willing to spend more, you still won't find a more comfortable minimal sneaker. Learn more about the Wolf & Shepherd Glider in my full review.
Pros: Minimal aesthetic, premium materials
Cons: Not many color options, expensive
As the name suggests, the GrandPrø Tennis draws much inspiration from tennis shoes. The design closely resembles the Adidas Stan Smith, a shoe that's arguably the most popular sneaker to ever been worn on a court.
You'll see similarities in the shape of the upper — from the rounded toe cap, metal ring eyelets, and heel tab. Even the midsole favors the Stan Smith.
In addition to an undeniably iconic design, Cole Haan also achieves a high level of comfort with its Grand.Øs technology. As the brand's proprietary cushioning system, Grand.Øs is a proprietary foam that absorbs impact, making the shoes more supportive and comfortable.
Its ability to check off boxes in design, comfort, and affordability are what put this shoe at the top of the list for business-casual styles.
Cole Haan sneakers fit true to size, so I recommend going with your normal shoe size.
Pros: Wide options available, premium leather upper, waxed laces, comfort technology, available in wide sizes
Cons: In a rare feat, there are none that I can find
As cool and stylish as sneakers can be, they're unfortunately also very wasteful to produce. If you're a consumer that's conscious of the environment and would rather not contribute to its degradation, Nothing New is a brand you should check out for your next sneaker purchase.
Coming in low-top ($95) and high-top ($110) styles, Nothing New sneakers feature a 100% post-consumer recycled plastic upper, and all its other components are made from some combination of recycled cotton, fishing nets, rubber, and cork.
To further its sustainability efforts, Nothing New offers $20 discounts on new pairs to those who send back their used sneakers. Depending on the condition of the sneakers, Nothing New will clean and donate them or break them down and put the materials back into its supply chain.
In terms of style, the overall design of the sneakers is very similar to the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars, which isn't a bad thing. Literally anyone can pull these off. Learn more about Nothing New sneakers in my full review.
Pros: Classic styling, plenty of colors available, sustainably made, discount offered when you recycle them
Cons: Pricey for the style considering how many alternatives there are for cheaper (though the cheaper ones are generally not sustainably produced)
The Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star has truly stood the test of time, going from a premier basketball sneaker in the early 1900s to arguably the most recognizable sneaker ever. No matter your age or income, if you have two feet, you've probably worn a pair of Chuck Taylor All-Stars at some point or another.
The iconic silhouette is without a doubt a staple in fashionable footwear, but if you're looking for something that's slightly more supportive and sturdy, the Converse Chuck 70 is the way to go.
Introduced in 2013, the Converse Chuck 70, which comes in high- and low-top styles, features a thicker upper, a higher rubber outsole and foxing, smaller rubber toe caps, and extra cushioning on the insoles. Other small but notable changes include additional stitching on the lateral and medial sides of the shoe, a black and white All-Star logo, and a black heel logo.
Collectively, those changes make the iconic Chuck Taylor design a little classier and a lot more comfortable. Converse Chuck 70s and All-Stars tend to run extremely big, so you should order a full size smaller than your true size for a good fit.
Pros: Plenty of colors and designs available, more comfortable than the originals
Cons: Sizing can be difficult to get right
The Air Jordan 1 is largely responsible for modern-day sneaker enthusiasm. In 1985, at a time when most sneakers were white, a rookie player named Michael Jordan changed the game with a pair of black and red sneakers that he wore against NBA rules. Nike happily paid the fine he received after each game he wore the "banned" sneakers.
At that time, Michael Jordan was the pinnacle of style in sports and his sneakers had the ability to connect to consumers in a way no other athlete had done before.
Today, the Air Jordan 1 catalog is extremely vast. There are quite a few pairs available on Nike, but you'll find everything from remakes of the original 1985 releases and new colorways telling the story of pivotal points in Jordan's career to highly collectible artist collaborations on Stock X. Even if you can't dribble or shoot a basketball to save your life, the Air Jordan 1 is a guaranteed way to elevate your style.
Pros: Highly collectible, won't fall apart like other Air Jordan models, most pairs retain or appreciate in value, lots of colorways and styles available
Cons: demand often exceeds supply, which makes certain pairs hard to get