According to a recent poll, 31 percent of ELLE.com readers wear sneakers with damn near anything. But that number is set to rise: The sneaker industry is predicted to make $95.14 billion dollars by 2025, outranking every other division in fashion. And business is so good that StockX, one of the top resale sites for rare kicks, was recently valued as Detroit’s first billion-dollar unicorn.
As more women trade their pumps for plimsolls, luxury sneakers in particular are poised to overtake heels as the investment accessory of the 2020s. (They’re already a major status symbol in Silicon Valley). The uptick in their popularity can perhaps be attributed to offices becoming increasingly more casual. Also, they just look cool.
But what makes designer sneakers worth it? For one thing, you can wear them year-round. For another, they make a statement. Ahead, some of the top must-have styles pulled straight from the runway.
Nike x Sacai LDWaffle
Nike’s sneaker collaboration with Sacai first debuted during men’s fashion week last spring and its double tongues, shoelaces, and swooshes made it an instant hit among hypebeasts. It’s actually a mash up of two Nike silhouettes: the Waffle Daybreak and the LDV. A fresh round of color ways just dropped for fall, meaning you now have five different options to choose from—with an optional faux fur tongue to boot. If you’re lucky enough to land a pair of these highly-coveted sneakers, consider yourself blessed.
If there’s one logo that consistently turns heads, it’s the double C and the Parisian house’s newest sneaker is already a street style favorite. Much like a 2.0 flap bag, this investment footwear will retain its value over time. The brand, led by artistic director Virginie Viard, released this style in multiple colors and fabrications for fall, including a few pairs in Chanel’s signature tweed. We’re particularly fond of this feminine, pink and purple combo—perfect for those who want a less sporty vibe.
Stuart Weitzman Deryl
Stuart Weitzman is famous for its perfect OTK boots, but the newly launched Deryl is the footwear legend’s next big thing. The comfortable trainers come in a whopping thirteen styles, so chances are you’ll want more than one pair. The side W-panel is a subtle nod to their logo, and the rich leather will wear beautifully over time. Plus, Stuart Weitzman collaborated with Aglit on scarf-print shoelaces so you can customize this new classic according to your look.
Prada Cloudbust Thunder
Prada’s Cloudbust Thunders are dad sneakers on rocket fuel. The rubber-soled shoes premiered on the fall 2019 runway (alongside the brand’s equally buzzy combat boot), and piqued the interest of both fashion editors and sneakerheads alike. With its chunky silhouette, flashy colors, and the Prada logo emblazoned on the back, these shoes are a total status accessory. Even Quavo is a fan (a true fashion icon, tbh).
Rose gold isn’t just for Etsy engagement rings. Valentino chose the metallic for its brand new Bounce sneaker. In a streetwear spin to the one of the house’s logo, ‘VLTN’ drips from the body of the sneaker down to its rubber sole. Constructed from calfskin leather, this is a sneaker you’ll never want to scuff. It also doubles as a great display piece—just put it on a pedestal between wearings.
R13 is a go-to for looks that nod to ’90s grunge. Their Insta-loved platform “Docs” harken back to Angela Chase in My So-Called Life, and their latest fall drop —a platform Converse-style sneaker—is already selling out everywhere. The style is pre-distressed, so you don’t have to worry about ruining them. They’ll just look better over time.
Chief creative officer Riccardo Tisci debuted his first sneaker for Burberry this season and waitlists are already forming to cop the new style. True to the brand’s London heritage, the Arthur is inspired by rain boots with a rubber base that’s ideal for inclement weather. Its upper is a mix of technical fabric and leather and calls to mind old school basketball shoes. Some styles rework Burberry’s iconic plaid into the mix, but this metallic mash up is surprisingly versatile.
Under the creative direction of Alessandro Michele, Gucci has taken an elevated approach to kitsch. Last year the house bedazzled a sneaker in gems. By contrast, the new Ultrapace sneaker is fairly toned-down (as far as Gucci goes). With its combination of faux reptile, sporty mesh, neon yellow trim, and a trifecta of Gucci logos, this sneaker will make the most basic outfit interesting. And with its boat-like shape and wide tongue, it resuscitates the ’90s skater shoe (which we haven’t seen in a minute). Complete the look with Gucci kneepads, because why the hell not?
Balenciaga Track 2
Balenciaga’s Triple S style basically kickstarted the dad sneaker trend in 2017. This year the Parisian house introduced the Track 2, and it’s somehow even more dad-like than its predecessor. At first glance, the sneakers’ technical construction and cutout panels would lead you to believe they’re made for the treadmill or track—and you can run in them if you’re so inclined. But these are so much more than Equinox-only shoes. Hailey Bieber (queen of Scumbro Fashion) is already fan.