Growing up, my dad used to refer to white sneakers as “nurse’s shoes.” Oh, how the times have changed. White sneakers are now the shoe, the singular sneaker that I can honestly say everyman needs. Regardless of your respective style, no wardrobe is complete without a pair of blanked out sneakers. From Italian leather lace-ups, to dirt cheap plimsolls, the sneaker marketplace is inundated with white sneakers of all material, shape, and price. To help you chart your own course through this sea of white, we’ve rounded up our favorite colorless lace-up sneakers. Wear ‘em till they’re no longer white, and then start all over again.
Great design is an intersection, lying at the point where all these different features, details, and ideas converge. The crucial component to this meeting is balance – if one point outweighs the others than the center shifts and the perfect X collapses. From the light blue JP stitching on the tongue down to the molded cork footbed, the sneakers of the Converse Jack Purcell Cross Stitch sneaker collection are perfect X’s all the way through.
Leather shoes are all about potential. The real appeal of a pair of leather soles lies not in how they look today, but how they’ll look tomorrow. “Character,” is that intangible factor that compels us to purchase a pair of shoes based at least partially on its ability to age along with us. Japanese footwear label Hender Scheme is driven by this notion, as their collection of raw leather shoes are distinguished by their promise of an incomparable patina. Unlike most leather sole labels though, Hender Scheme isn’t best known for dress shoes (although they have recently begun to enter into this market), instead they focus primarily on sneaker silhouettes. These shoes, much like paying a visit to your hometown as an adult, are at once both familiar and unknown.
“Man, I need Vans.”
From an Anaheim, California warehouse in 1966 Paul Van Doren churned out the first pair of Vans. They were basic canvas creations, outfitted with a diamond patterned sole and compact rows of laces, but before long those rubber sneakers would send southern California, and eventually the rest of the world into a frenzy.
Today, you can still walk into really any shoe store in the world and pick up a pair of Vans that looks almost identical to the pair that Van Doren produced back in the late sixties. While their contemporary models are now made abroad (come on guys, where’s the Made in the USA Vans collection we’ve all been waiting for) they do still retain that laid-back, easy wearing vibe that made them so damn popular nearly a half century ago. What’s best about Vans is that their irresistible simplicity has made them an ideal platform for countless obscure patterns, collaborations, and revamps. We’ve rounded out ten of our favorite Vans from the past year or so to add some rubber to your summertime shoe rotation.
White bucks are the blank canvas of menswear. Each year, as the temperature rises, they reemerge like red soled birds flying south for the season, primed in a flat white coat that will be marked up, dinged out, and just plain dirty come Fall. There’s something unnatural about a pristine white buck – it’s too clean, too pristine, not worn in enough. On the other hand a beat-up buck proves that you’ve been living, and living well. Each pockmark and spot on a pair of bucks is earned and from that first time you nick up a fresh pair of bucks, you’ll be recording a seasons worth of wear and tear. As designer, and legendary buck wearer (seriously he’s been wearing them for over forty years straight) JP Williams puts it “they take on your personality.” So, here’s to a season of worth of grass stains and spilled cocktails, because a beat up buck is just a better buck.
At 130 years old, Alden might just be America’s coolest centenarian. As they cross into their 13th decade this year, Alden’s shoes has never been more in demand, with the reported wait list for a pair of custom shoes from their Middleborough, Massachusetts’ factory stretching back well over a year.
Alden was a marque name of the early aughts heritage revival, and even as the spotlight on Americana has begun to fade once again, Alden’s renaissance is as strong as ever. While the shoemaker continues to crank out a wide assortment of stock designs for their diehard customers, it’s the considerable crop of “special makeups” that Alden has produced in partnership with stores across the world that present some of the venerable shoemakers most interesting creations.
For many designers, somewhere along the way between concept and execution their vision gets lost in the shuffle, but not so for Jun Takahashi of Japanese label, Undercover. Takahashi is now approaching the fourth year of his Gyakusou collection, a collaborative effort with Nike that exists at the intersection between high fashion and performance running gear.
As anyone that has ever laced up a pair of sneaker can attest, running is as much an emotional pursuit as it is an athletic one. Takahashi has never been one to shy away from emotion in his work. His Undercover collections are often rife with quotes from shoegaze songs, dark tones, and lush textures. As for Gyakusou, which roughly translates into “running in reverse,” as a reference to the fact that Takahashi and his friends run the “wrong way” through Tokyo, the collection has always been a meditation on how runners interact with their environment.