The following is a list of the Top 10 High Fashion Sneakers (according to the esteemed staff at hommeschool). Because we are focusing solely on “high fashion” or “luxury” sneakers, we are excluding premium iterations of footwear from athletic or lifestyle brands, e.g. Diemme x Vans or Missoni x Converse. This list also does not take into consideration collaborative efforts between a luxury brand and a third party e.g. Louis Vuitton x Kanye West or Nike x Riccardo Tisci. Now that we are on the same page, let’s get to the list . . .
Dior Homme Laced High Top (Kris Van Assche)
Dior Homme has been under the creative direction of Kris Van Assche since Spring – Summer 2008. Before that, the brand had been directed by Hedi Slimane, who began in Fall – Winter 2001. Filling Hedi’s shoes was a daunting task, but Mr. Van Assche held his own. After only two years at the helm, in 2010, Kris Van Assche created what is arguably Dior Homme’s finest sneaker . . . the Spring – Summer 2010 Laced High Top Sneaker. Most of Dior Homme’s sneaker designs over the years have been forgettable – this is the nicest way for me to say it. When the uniquely designed Laced High Top Sneaker dropped, it was a must-have. The high-top sneaker had a perfect silhouette with a classic suede upper and an intricate lacing system around the ankle. Hedi who? The minimal design was perfect for sneaker purists and fancy boys alike. I distinctly remember stopping in my tracks more than a few times whenever I spotted anyone wearing them on the street. I had an opportunity to purchase them ON SALE (last pair in my size) at Barney’s in San Francisco, but I had other financial obligations at the time, so I let them go. GAH!!! That was perhaps the worst mistake of my life. I’m not kidding. I still have regular dreams about those sneakers. If you take anything from this blog post, make sure it is this important lesson. DO NOT CARRY ANY SNEAKER REGRETS. THEY WILL HAUNT YOU UNTIL YOU DIE.
What’s even more important to note is that this sneaker was released during a time period when the high-fashion sneaker craze was still in its infancy. Segregating athletic shoes and luxury shoes was quickly becoming a thing of the past and this sneaker, amongst others, propelled the whole movement forward. Other high-fashion brands took note and we would eventually witness an explosion in the luxury sneaker market. Sneakers have now entered the lexicon of high fashion.
Personal luxury goods have risen more than 10% for each of the last three years worldwide, and men’s shoes are outperforming that figure, according to Bain & Co., a leading advisor to the luxury sector. With that said, let’s continue our list . . .
Y-3 is a pioneer of the high-fashion sportswear movement, so their catalog of innovative sneakers over the years is vast. That being said, they finally released a low-top version of the ubiquitous Qasa, dubbed the Qasa Low II. It’s a slip on! Y-3 gets major convenience points for this one. It sold out quickly once people became hip to the game. The first (and best) Qasa Low II colorway has become harder to find than the original Qasa highs. It is a little more flattering on the foot because of a slimmed down physique and most notably a dip in the ankle between the tongue and the heel where the highs have a wrap around. Premium leather, neoprene, and canvas complete the upper portion of the sneaker. The jacquard material on the toe creates a nice contrast to the black neoprene. The Qasa really pushed the distended sole trend forward. Now, this hovercraft-style of sole can be found on so many popular sneakers in the market. What was once a bit extreme, has become almost common. AND, let me just say that these are one of the most comfortable pairs of sneakers that I own. This sneaker is one of my absolute favorites. Y-3 is the most influential collaboration in sport and fashion to date. Adidas and Yohji can do no wrong.
Visvim has been synonymous with quality since its first appearance on the Japanese street-wear scene in 2001. Meticulously designed and directed by Hiroki Nakamura, the brand creates footwear and garments that are constructed with a mix of traditional production techniques and modern technology. The most notable inspirations for Visvim products over the years include vintage Americana, Japanese Edo garments, French workwear, and Native American clothing. This last inspiration gave birth to one of the coolest sneakers to hit the market in years – the Visvim FBT. Visvim’s most iconic shoe is a modern interpretation of the classic Native American moccasin but with a sneaker (Vibram) outsole. This is a sneaker that captures the essence of the Visvim brand. High quality materials, traditional production, innovative design, and modern technology. When deciding upon which model to select, you MUST opt for the Visvim FBT Elk leather version. I don’t know if I have ever wrapped a softer pair of leather around my feet. TREAT YO SELF! Once you hold a pair of FBT’s in your hand, the price point will make so much more sense. This is an amazing piece of footwear that looks great and feels even better. You cannot lay claim to being a male fashionista without owning a good pair of Visvim’s.
We all know Rick Owens and we know that his Geobasket high-top sneaker is legendary. I am placing the Geobasket on this list because of not only its design, but because of its relevance. Rick Owens has other sneakers in his portfolio that I actually prefer over the Geobaskets, but are not quite as popular. Rick has so many stellar designs and could take at least 2 of the spots on this Top 10 list in my opinion (not including the adidas collabo). The dude is that good. I really admire some of his other models such as the classic Ramone Sneaker, or the latest Sphinx Sock Sneaker, but the Geobasket seems almost ubiquitous. The reason for this is because Owens struck the perfect balance of street, athletic, and luxury in this design. In discussing his approach to design Rick Owens once said, “It’s like the world around us, it’s a mix of high and low. If you have too much of one or the other it can be nauseous, but to appreciate one you need the other. It’s all about balance.” The Geobasket is widely recognized and worn by men, women, goth ninjas, rockers, hip-hoppers, and countless other walks of life. It’s rugged, comfortable, elegant . . . perfect.
In case you didn’t know . . . Maison Margiela, formerly Maison Martin Margiela, is a French fashion house founded in 1988 by Belgian designer Martin Margiela. The brand is known for its avant-garde and deconstructed clothing and accessories. Now that we have stated the facts, let’s jump into the sneakers. Maison Margiela has built some unique interpretations really off of one sneaker silhouette – the German Army Trainer, or to some, the adidas Samba. Honestly, it looks like it could be a lot of different things. Regardless, the sneaker has become a huge success. I am referring to the Maison Margiela Future. This is basically the Replica with a more visually interesting structure by way of extra material that hides the laces and also a healthy ankle strap (for the high tops). The sneaker looks as if it came from a sophisticated world in the not so distant future where aliens who earned advanced degrees in product design churn out products that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Its shape is sleek and not over-designed. Because of its popularity, many iterations have been released. One of the craziest was the “Yeezus Tour” Beast Hair Future High Tops that were designed to honor Kanye West’s Yeezus Tour. Mr. West wore Margiela everything during the tour, including numerous Maison Margiela Future sneakers.
Common Projects has established itself as the quintessential minimalist luxury footwear brand for cool guys. In fact, they helped build the luxury sneaker category. They have completely nailed it with both their branding and their designs. For Common Projects the Achilles is their Chuck Taylor. It is a classic design and an anchor for the brand. From the pages of GQ to the streets of any major city, you will find distinguished gentlemen rocking the Achilles. The Achilles is hand-stitched in Italy and is made of Italian Nappa leather. It is sleek, versatile, and comes in a low, mid, and high. You can literally wear this shoe with anything. I really don’t know what else to say. If you don’t own a pair, your wardrobe is lacking juuuuuust a little bit.
This sneaker brand out of Venice does not receive as much buzz as some of the other brands on this distinguished list, but they certainly bring some great design to the category. The company, which began in 2010, designs footwear that is elegant yet tough, playing with different structures and shape. One particular model has always been a favorite of mine. It is simply dubbed the Side Zip Sneaker. It is the epitome of urban elegance; reminiscent of a Rick Owens sneaker, but toned down a bit, thus a little more wearable. The upper is so versatile with the soft leather and single button closure. There are so many different silhouettes you can create, thus, they are great with shorts or pants.
The Alexander McQueen Oversized Sneaker is a simple but amazing piece of footwear that is best seen on the foot. The perfectly oversized proportions of this sneaker make it appear almost geriatric on the shelf, but shoots you into high fashion rock star status when actually worn. This sneaker got a co-sign from ASAP Rocky, Future, and countless other celebrities when it originally dropped. Stylists flocked to their local Barney’s and Neiman Marcus stores to grab a pair for their discerning clients. The upper consists of 100% calf-skin leather. It is truly soft – dare I say, buttery. Perforated air hole detail, kid leather lining, 7 hole metal eyelets with an Alexander McQueen logo stamp both the on tongue and back counter. Is there anything else I should add? Yes. The absolute illest fat laces you have seen on a sneaker since the Adidas Superstar “Shell Toe” B-Boy Era. Finally, the most unique aspect of this sneaker is the oversized rubber sole. I think McQueen would be proud.
The Valentino Rockrunner is a relatively newer model, but certainly worthy of praise. It’s been executed in everything from leopard-printed pony hair to fluorescent camo over the years, somehow managing to become one of the most ostentatious sneakers in the industry. That being said, this sneaker effortlessly captures the feeling of a vintage runner (a’ la Nike or New Balance) with premium materials and inspiring visuals that take shape in the form of unique, but aesthetically pleasing patterns and colors. Some iterations of this beautiful runner contain wool camo patterns, rich leathers, neon suedes, vintage mid-soles, and even studs . . . but just the right amount of studs.
Jon Buscemi launched his eponymous label in 2013 after leaving Gourmet, a footwear company he co-founded in 2006. By leveraging celebrity influencers and social media, and practicing a model of exclusivity, Buscemi became one of the most highly sought-after sneaker brands almost overnight. In their first year of availability, they were out of stock far more often than they were actually on shelves. Many people in the industry today see Jon Buscemi as a sneaker kingpin. Plus, he actually sort of resembles the Marvel Comics supervillain, Kingpin, who appeared in a ton of Daredevil issues. Jon sounds like a nice guy, though, and his sneakers are nice indeed. The Buscemi design looks like the footwear manifestation of an Hermes Birkin bag . . . very luxurious. Each one is gold stamped on the tongue with “Made in Italy”. . . because dope shoes come from Italy!!! What’s uuuuuup!? 18K golden padlocks dangle from the ankle strap of each shoe – tiny keys are included. The inaugural model, the Buscemi 100MM, is made entirely out of full grain Italian calf leather. The design overall is gorgeous. Since its launch in 2013, the brand has grown tremendously and the sneakers are now a little easier to come by. My problem is – which Buscemi sneaker is my favorite? While many would argue that the original 100MM is the greatest, I am partial to the 125MM. Some say shampoo is better than conditioner. Who am I to judge? I like the tongue on the 125MM and believe it has a slightly cleaner look. It is just so simple and beautiful and can easily be worn with almost any outfit. Good design is good design. Profound. I know.