What are the best sneakers for men? Well, that depends on the kind of sneakers you’re looking for. 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 it encompasses everything from suede designer high-tops to trusty canvas lace-ups—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!
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. Turns out, 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.
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.
During the last few years, the artist formerly known as Kanye West transformed Yeezy into a multibillion dollar brand and a sizable portion of Adidas’ larger sneaker business. To say Ye manifested the brand’s success through sheer force of will is only half-right—sure, the man talks a big game, but under his direction Yeezy developed a reputation for innovative designs that push the industry in exciting new directions. And as he’ll be the first to tell you, that’s worth recognizing.
Luxury sneakers used to be an oxymoron. No longer. Over the last decade, capital-D designer brands like Gucci and Balenciaga 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 in 2021
In 2021, plenty of the elements that once defined the routine of normal life slowed to a halt, but the sneaker release cycle wasn’t one of them. Since the start of least year, there’s been 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.