We love the classically casual Converse sneakers just as much as the next cool kid on the block. But high-end sneakers have become the new standard among sneaker heads, and designers have more than delivered on the luxurious hype with a range of fancy footwork.
The options are truly endless. But when you’re investing in a kicked-up pair of sneaks, quality is of premier importance. You may also want to consider the versatility and timelessness of the design, but that shouldn’t preclude you from stepping outside the lines with a more directional, urban shoe.
From high-performance technology to unconventional materials and other exclusive details, take a peek at these luxe options that may cost a pretty penny but will have you upping your shoe game in no time flat. You may never want to take these pairs off.
1. Lanvin Nubuck and Velour Calfskin Low-Top Sneaker
Known for its sharp, trend-forward men’s and women’s wear, the house of Lanvin also has a way with sneakers, as can be seen in these crocodile embossed nubuck calfskin low-top models with rubber-effect calfskin edging ($580). The sleek, dark-gray color only elevates the sophistication level of these pairs, so much so that you can get away with wearing these with a suit. Should you want something a bit more whimsical, the “Flowers” sneakers feature an abstracted grey, black, and white floral print and a thick contrasting leather sole for a statement-making finish to an off-duty ensemble such as denim and a leather jacket.
2. Hender Scheme Manual Industrial Project 12
Hender Scheme’s “Homage” or “Manual Industrial Project” collection literally pays homage to some of the most iconic silhouettes of the sneaker world including the Vans Era, Nike Air Force 1, Air Jordan IV, and Adidas Superstar. Stripping the shoe of its logos and colors, Japanese designer Ryo Kashiwazaki meticulously recreates the sneaks by hand using natural, undyed leather for a sense of raw artfulness and artisan craftsmanship. They’re meant to age with the wearer and will develop a beautiful patina. You will likely recognize the ubiquitous Nike Presto in the Manual Industrial Project 12 trainer ($1,035) here.
3. Balenciaga Rubberized Calfskin High Sneakers
These pretty little kicks hail from Balenciaga’s holiday collection, and the rouge high-top sneakers ($635) deliver plenty of festive spirit for your next holiday party. The rubber-effect calfskin sneakers are pumped up with sleek gray contrast laces, D-ring metal tabs, and rubber soles for a striking effect. But, if you prefer to not wear holly-berry-red on your feet, white and black are available, too.
4. Dior Homme Hi-Top Sneakers
In a lineup of luxe sneakers, at least one pair of the patent variety is mandatory. The house of Christian Dior delivers with these Dior Homme classic hi-top sneakers ($821) that are sleek, shiny, and tailor-made for a slick outing such as one of the black jeans and bomber jacket variety.
5. Article No. Style ID: 0714-0435
Article No., the newly founded, Los Angeles-based sneaker company, is already making a name for itself with mod, sculpted designs and futuristic influences. This gray suede and leather shoe, Style ID: 0714-0435 ($220), is one of the brand’s more pared-down models, but the cool color alone and the wide, wraparound laces are reason enough to add this one to the collection.
6. Rick Owens Sphinx Sneaker Boot
Unorthodox and packed with plenty of rebel flair is the M.O. for menswear designer Rick Owens. His gothic, bad-boy mood is written all over this aggressively impactful Sphinx shoe boot ($1,784) with a side zipper and 14-eyelet lacing. While there are plenty of hoof-inspired sneakers in his collection, this one takes the cake with its outside-the-shoebox styling. Yes, you’re asking for attention when you wear these with your joggers. But, that’s the point.
7. Y-3 Vern EQT
High tech meets high fashion in Yohji Yamamoto’s collaborative line with Adidas. The Y-3 Vern EQT ($445) has an athletic edge with stretch neoprene styling, suede accents, and a performance cushion sock liner. It’s inspired by the adidas ZX 8000 runner, but it’s reimagined with a more luxurious spin. This sneaker fits right in at the gym, but it’s equally at home with street-style fashion.
8. Adidas Xeno Superstar Shoes
The Superstar name says it all: These adidas Originals shoes ($110) have plenty of star power courtesy of light reflective technology that was inspired by the iridescent scales of the Xenopeltis snake. While the sneaker’s material has a subtle shimmer in the daylight, the full kaleidoscope effect of the 3D reflective surface appears in bright direct light — and in photos, too. This skin is most definitely in. Someone call the paparazzi.
9. Common Projects Low-Top Trainers
Minimalism at its finest, Common Projects’ low-top trainers ($410) have monochromatic appeal with matching leather, rubber soles, and shoelaces. The brand is a collaboration between designers Flavio Girolami and Prathan Poopat who are inspired by the lines and shapes of everyday objects, crafting their pieces with a tailored, simple approach that’s high on quality. While you can stick with the classic white or black trainers, this military green option sidesteps tradition while still functioning as a neutral hue. Bright navy blue and fire-engine red are also available should you so dare to cap off your ensemble with decidedly bold footing.
10. Buttero Tanino Low Sneakers
Smooth as butter, and pretty darn delicious too, Tuscany-based brand Buttero’s black leather Tanino low sneakers with contrasting rubber sole ($390) reflects the best traditions of Italian shoemaking. Contemporary rawness and old-school elegance come together in these kicks that feature leather laces, metal eyelets, and leather lining for layer upon layer of luxe appeal. Natural brown, dark brown, and white leather varieties ensure there is the right color for every occasion. And the shoes age like fine wine, which is to say they keep getting better and better. So don’t be afraid to truly wear in these soles.