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The Most Iconic Designer Sneakers of 2020

16th April 2020

WORDS BY FLORENCE TROTT | Photography by SANDRA HAGELSTAM

Are you comfortable? Kick the new season into touch with springtime soles and chunky silhouettes. 

In recent decades, sneakers have evolved from athletic essentials into high fashion status symbols. Combining comfort with endless styling possibilities, the rise of luxury streetwear and the adoption of casual dress codes by the world’s most feted fashion houses has placed sneakers firmly at the forefront of our style conscious.

We’re big on switching out your Louboutins for a pair of low-tops whenever the mood takes you, and there’s never been a better time than now to forgo the pain of a stiletto in favour of a sneaker. They’re like a comfort blanket for your feet – a little shoe-shaped hug that will take you from A to B (even if it’s just down your stairs) with ease. Sneakers might be a slightly superficial substitute for socialising, but they do provide a much-needed lift with an air-cushioned sole. 

From a pair of Balenciaga Track 2’s to contrast with a silky slip dress, to an exclusive Adidas collab worn with your favourite jeans, this season’s sneaker offering is bigger and more hype-worthy than ever. Whether you buy in to the hype is up to you, but even if you don’t plan to join the cult of the limited edition resale sneaker any time soon, there’s no denying their appeal. 

By and large, (large being the operative word), the fashion world’s most coveted sneakers right now are big, chunky, orthopaedic-soled shoes that have us pounding pavements (/our own homes and supermarkets) with purpose. Balenciaga’s Triple S, Gucci’s Rhyton and Alexander McQueen’s Oversized sneaker all get a mention for their role in paving the way for fabulously swollen footwear. The ‘dad sneaker’s’ ubiquity at fashion week confirms their iconic status – from fashion editor favourites, Balenciaga’s new Track 2, and the Gucci Flashtreck, to the futuristic, raised-sole Louis Vuitton Archlight.

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But big dimensions aren’t having the final word in 2020. Some have moved past ‘ugly sneaker’ territory, opting instead for a more elegant silhouette, or a sportier pedigree. For SS, tried-and-tested sports classics have had a modern update in pastel shades and performance fabrications. From a New Balance launching on Matchesfashion.com to Adidas Originals partnering with Wardrobe NYC and Prada, the aesthetic is sweetly retro and has us feeling all nostalgic for the early ‘90s. Perfectly paired with sporty socks and an oversized jersey tracksuit to fit our current climate.

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Likewise, minimalist trainers and maximalist silhouettes in understated shades of white, cream and beige are having a moment, or should we say, never go out of fashion. After a few years of chunky trainer hype, we’re seeing a rise in the popularity of minimal white leather sneakers, like classic Common Projects and Prada canvas high tops. They give a casual look polish, and can be dressed up or down depending on your mood. Whatever your preference, settle in for some downtime, and ‘get dressed’ in the morning without compromising on cosy-factor, in our favourite sneakers of the season.

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