What are the best sneakers for men? Kind of a vague question, bud. That all depends on what you’re after. Today’s sneaker landscape is a bit like the MCU: vast, far-ranging, chock full of unexpected cameos, and prone to incite confounding levels of scrutiny from millions of adults who should probably know better. (The characters might vary, but for sneaker fans with firsthand experience working the internecine dynamics of the aftermarket, there’s no shortage of villains.)
And much like Marvel’s multibillion-dollar baby, the already-expansive sneaker galaxy is only getting bigger. Today the gamut includes everything from pony-hair printed low-tops to ol’ reliable canvas kicks—along with the requisite training shoes, running shoes, and basketball shoes. Figuring out where to start can be as exhausting as binging a quartet of Avengers movies in one bleary-eyed go. So we did it for you.
Below, you’ll find a mercifully succinct outline of ever single sneaker style worth your time right now, all culled from the digital pages of our extensive sneaker coverage. Because no matter what the critics (or, uh, trend forecasters) say, the best sneakers for men remain some of the best men’s shoes, period. Sneakerheads, assemble!
The Best Sneakers Shopping Guide
More than mere wardrobe staples, white sneakers are the base of the menswear food pyramid, the pair of shoes you’ll likely reach for more than any other in your closet. Which explains why there are a mind-boggling amount of ’em available, from all-time classics to wild-style flexes. Over the years, we’ve surveyed hundreds of options, testing out the cream of the crop each step of the way. (Looking for the best white sneakers you can buy with only a hundred bucks? We’ve got you covered too.)
Black sneakers make a convincing argument for the dark side, the footwear equivalent of Emperor Palpatine whispering sweet nothings in a young Padawan’s ear. (We’re listening, FYI.) Black shoes are the perfect low-maintenance alternative for any serial puddle-swervers, and engaging in illegal activity isn’t a prerequisite to wearing ’em. (Most of the time.)
Walking is good for you—like, really good for you—but walking shoes haven’t exactly always screamed “sex appeal”…until now. Given the explosion of interest in running’s less strenuous cousin over the past year, walking shoes have, ahem, stepped up their game. They’re still packed with all the cushion-heavy outsoles, breathable uppers, and vital arch support you need for a long day on your feet, but now they’ve got the style to match. Self-described dad shoes are cool and all, but the real deal dad shoes you’d find in an orthopedics store also look cooler than ever.
If you’re considering hitting the the track or the trails this year, investing in a reliable pair of running shoes is a must. The right pair should offer cushioning, durability, and energy return in spades—in other words, the opportunity to feel like Eliud Kipchoge, whether you’re an amateur enthusiast looking for a new daily trainer or a hardcore half-marathoner in the market for a racer that’ll help you smash your last PB. From trail-ready runners to everyday beaters you can wear to jog around the neighborhood, there’s no better shoes to start your journey to Olympic (or near-Olympic) glory.
Homing in on the best Nike shoes is worth the grunt work. Since setting up shop in the mid-’60s, the Portland-based juggernaut has churned out one hit sneaker after another, expanding into lifestyle footwear while upholding its commitment to athletic excellence each step of the way. Today, the Swoosh sells just about everything tangentially related to the sporting life, but its sneakers remain the crown jewel of the business. The best Nike shoes prove why the brand is still miles—and many, many dollars—ahead of the competition.
If you’re Team Stripes through and through, there’s plenty of options to choose from. Adidas remains a reliable source for classic sneakers (think Sambas, Superstars, and Stan Smiths), the type of perennial best-sellers that still inspire countless imitations today. More recently, the German sportswear giant has stepped on the gas, rolling out smash-hit collaborations with designer powerhouses like Prada, cult-loved labels like Wales Bonner, and globally-adored megastars like Bad Bunny. All of which means there’s no better time to take stock of the company’s roster of men’s sneakers.
The industry has changed a lot since Nike introduced the Air Jordan 1 in ’84, but the company hasn’t stopped coming with the heat since. Today, Jordan Brand counts a roster of sneakerhead-approved styles to its name, but the AJ1 remains the its hero product, a perennial favorite of the biggest names in the design world and the ideal canvas for their wildest interpretations. Jordan Brand effectively birthed modern sneaker culture, and there’s still few labels as influential—and none with the same cachet.
New Balance Sneakers
Over the years, New Balance has evolved from a geriatric standard to a purveyor of genuine cool-guy staples, cooking up new models (and roping in a who’s who of notable collaborators) for sneaker enthusiasts of every stripe to lust over. At first the brand’s popularity seemed rooted in irony, a nod to normcore stylings, but wear anything long enough and the appreciation starts to become sincere. And with Aimé Leon Dore honcho Teddy Santis in charge of the company’s premium Made in USA sub-line, the Boston-based brand continues to keep its pedal to the cushy, orthotic metal.
Asics is on an absolute tear right now. Under the direction of Kiko Kostadinov, the Gel-Kayano 14—a once-forgotten silhouette from the Japanese brand’s archives—has emerged as a sleeper contender for sneaker of the year, and its general release styles tend to sell out just as fast as its buzzy collaborations (a high bar to meet considering the brand has teamed up with everyone from Justin Saunders to Zack Bia). All of which means the brand is on the precipice of yanking a sizable chunk of sneakerhead attention away from the big cahunas at Adidas, Nike, and New Balance—not enough to eat into their market share, perhaps, but plenty to keep ’em on their toes.
Luxury sneakers used to be an oxymoron—no longer. Over the last decade, capital-D designer brands like Gucci and Prada capitalized on the sneaker craze with gusto, churning out hit after hit like Lil Baby halfway through a long night in the studio. Today, every fashion house worth its weight in gratis champagne offers an extensive sneaker selection—some of ’em very good. (Though be warned: they tend to come with a correspondingly sky-high price tag).
The Sneakers We Liked Most This Year
The last few years have been rocky, but the sneaker train never really stopped running. Loafers, mules, even—yes—dress shoes might be taking up more space in your closet these days, but there’s still a steady stream of briskly-selling kicks hitting the proverbial shelves every week, and more than a few of them are worth revisiting. From blockbuster collaborations courtesy of the biggest names in the business to classics-in-the-making via smaller footwear upstarts, there’s never been a better time to start building out your collection—or fill in the gaps with whatever you missed out on the first time around.