It’s not an exaggeration to say no man’s wardrobe is complete without some cool sneakers from some of the best sneaker brands.
Great sneakers are utilitarian, versatile for personal style and sometimes artful, statement pieces in their own right. Plus, they can just be damn cool and add some swag to any casual outfit.
If you’re a sneakerhead, then you’ve probably got pretty firm ideas about which sneaker brands are best. We bet we agree with you on most of the best sneaker brands, but we hope we can open your mind to some other great ones.
For the most part, our list favors primarily shoe-focused, big sneaker brands that make a wide variety of casual and athletic sneakers. While luxury brands can make high-quality, stylish, “premium” sneakers, sneaker brands Nike and Adidas make very high-quality sneakers too. But we did include two pricier brands for you to check out. One makes just absolutely beautiful basic sneakers and the other has prints and designs like no other.
With that being said, check out our round-up of the best sneaker brands and some of their coolest, most classic sneakers below.
We kick off our round-up with the undisputed champion of sneaker brands, Nike. What can we say about it that you don’t already know? Nike’s timeless body of sneakers, not to mention sales, so many sales, speaks for itself. Its brand is so strong that the brands within its brands have developed cult followings of their own. For example, yours truly specifically loves Nike Air Force sneakers.
But in general, Nike’s not only made some of the most innovative, both design- and style-wise, sneakers of all time, but the brand’s never been content to rest on its laurels. Even though Nike misses the mark sometimes, it always tries to push the boundaries of athletic footwear whether through shoe technology and design innovations, brand collaborations, marketing or otherwise.
We’ve worn tons of Nikes over the years, as we’re certain you have too, and they never fail to impress because Nike is consistently great and definitely one of the best sneaker brands. We could walk you through every awesome thing about Nike, but we’d be here all day.
Though we could recommend almost any kind of sneaker from Nike, we prefer to give you a classic, the Nike Air Force 1. The full-grain leather looks sleek and feels good, the soles have great cushion and the cut is timeless. The white version can easily pair almost any outfit.
2. Air Jordan
We’re talking about the best sneaker brands and Air Jordan 100% qualifies as its own brand even though they are Nike Air Jordans.
The sneakers became world-famous overnight after being worn by their namesake, Michael Jordan, and they’ve been sought after sneakers ever since for their straight-up cool style and piece-of-history status.
It’s easy to recommend the Air Jordan 1s, but we’re doing it anyway. Whether you’re getting your first or fifth pair of Jordans, there’s always room in the conversation for the Air Jordan 1s. They started it all and they’re as cool today as they were when His Airness first wore them.
The Air Jordan 1 Mids are more or less the same as they were in the ‘80s, just with a lower ankle.
Yup, if Nike was here then Adidas had to be here too, the swoosh and the three stripes. Adidas is the second-largest sportswear manufacturer in the world, after Nike of course, but, like Nike, Adidas has made some of the all-time greatest and coolest sneakers of all time.
In recent years, they’ve also had significant success making sneakers with Kanye West through his Yeezy brand, which uses Adidas’s trademarked Boost material.
So whether you’re looking through their original styles or some of their newest, you’ll be able to find some fire sneakers at Adidas.
Two of our all-time personal favorite sneakers come from Adidas, and they’re both classics: the Stan Smith and the Samba. If you don’t know the names, just check them out below and you’ll recognize them because they are among the most worn styles of shoes in the U.S.
4. New Balance
New Balance may be caricatured as the footwear of Dads, power walkers and Steve Jobs, but in recent years New Balance has greatly expanded its product lines and style offerings to great success. Not only do they make some of the most comfortable running shoes of all time, but they’re increasingly cutting edge and stylish, too.
The New Balance Fresh Foam Roav sneakers are as stylish as they are comfortable. The Tee Shirt colorway, natural indigo and aluminum, is casual and will go with so many jeans and khakis.
You 100% knew someone in high school who wore Vans. A staple of skateboarding shoes, Vans have always been popular for their high quality, simple styles and affordable price point. The brand has remained relevant not only for its cool sneakers but for its sponsorship in sports like skateboarding, BMX, snowboarding and motocross as well as its longtime festival series, the Vans Warped Tour.
When it comes to Vans, you can’t go wrong with the Vans Old Skool, which debuted in 1977. It still radiates skateboarding sneaker cool to this day. The black and white colorway is the original, but we’re fans of the military greenish canteen colorway with the gum sole.
Converse sneakers, especially the classic Converse Chuck Taylor All Star High Top Sneaker, are the definition of timeless style. The fact that they’re cool enough for Marty McFly to wear in Back to the Future — a movie over 30 years old — and cool enough to still be popular today really speaks for itself.
It’s crazy to think about, but on the strength of Converse’s original basketball sneaker alone, the Chuck Taylors, it’s one of the best sneaker brands. That’s why we have no choice but to recommend it because it’s a piece of basketball history on your feet.
You can go for whichever colorway you like, but we love the black monochrome. Trust us, people will still know you’re wearing Converse Chuck Taylors.
7. ASICS and Onitsuka Tiger
For one of our first dark horse picks, we love ASICS. Yes, the company mostly makes great running and high-performance sneakers, but we also love their lifestyle sneakers for their Japanese-style flair. In particular, the Onitsuka Tiger brand of ASICS sneakers are the absolute coolest.
Though ASICS has expanded the Onitsuka Tiger brand to include all kinds of boots and shoes and wild prints, designs and materials (some of which are honestly a little too crazy for our taste), nothing beats the original Tigers. In particular, the Onitsuka Tiger Serrano sneakers are just damn hard to top.
Say what you will about Allbirds, but everyone we know who gets them loves them. We also have them and love them, and what’s not to love? Allbirds makes extremely comfortable sneakers from eco-friendly and sustainable materials like wool and trees — yes, trees. Plus the wool sneakers are machine washable so you never have to stop wearing them due to perma-stank.
The Allbirds Men’s Wool Runners were one of the brand’s first pairs of sneakers and they’re still one of Allbird’s best offerings. You can pick them up in a few classic colors or a rotating cast of limited colors. The natural grey with a light sole is classic as is the natural black with a black sole.
9. Common Projects
Alright, now here’s either where you say“Ah, SPY gets it” or you exit out of the article. But we’re definitely on the side of the stupid expensive Common Projects sneakers in this debate. Sure, you can buy sneakers that look almost identical to those produced by Common Projects for well under half the sticker price, but at the end of the day, you won’t be wearing Common Projects and maybe, just maybe, your shoe’s silhouette won’t look as sharp or its materials and stitching won’t hold up as well over time. In a way few other brands can claim, Common Projects sneakers just look so good that you can easily wear them formally or casually.
Also, a ton of sneaker brands these days now boast about featuring Italian construction, but they have Common Projects to thank for that because it was really the sneaker brand at the forefront of that development.
If you’ve got the money to spend, go for anything that catches your eye. But a good place to start is the Original Achilles Sneaker in black or white leather. When people see the subtle gold numbers on the heel, they’ll know you’re legit.
For a definite dark horse pick, we want to point you toward Taft. Taft is one of the younger brands on this list and is much better known for its boots and fine shoes than its sneakers. But the young company has invested a ton in sneakers in the last couple of years and now produces a ton of incredibly unique styles that you just won’t find anywhere else.
Just check out the Sneaker in Rose for one example. Unfortunately, Taft doesn’t keep one style forever, so it’ll eventually retire this one for good. But even though one style or design might be gone, Taft ensures something equally fly or eye-popping takes its place.