The world of men’s shoes is a minefield. There are thousands of trainers and dress shoes out there, and sometimes, you’re just not sure where to start. With this definitive list of the best shoes in the world, we’ll look at different styles and brands, and give you a better idea of the best men’s shoes and brands available.
We all remember the first pair of shoes we bought on our own accord. The likelihood is that these were trainers, whether Nike, Vans, Converse or Adidas Originals. Be aware, however, that the shoe game has become a lot more complicated since then. More men’s shoe brands have come along, innovations in production have been introduced, and new brands pop up every month. You want to know the best shoes to buy. I unfortunately can’t answer that complex question, but I can give a little advice and inspiration to help you on your way. From the best basketball shoes to formal shoes, we’ve got you covered.
Shoe Brand Names
Famous Shoe Brands
What would you say if you were asked to name a famous shoe brand? Probably a sportswear or trainer company. Brands such as Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Puma, New Balance, Jordan, Converse, Asics, and Vans, continue to dominate the trainer and global footwear market. They are the most popular shoes brands and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Top Shoe Brands
In recent years, as the sports-luxe/athleisure trend has become a front-runner and minimalist design commonplace, many new innovative shoes brands have arisen to the mainstream. Common Projects, Filling Pieces, ETQ, Axel Arigato, Eytys, and Article Number have all taken luxe trainers to the next level.
High-End Men’s Shoes
Most major fashion companies produce quality men’s footwear. French houses Maison Margiela, Louis Vuitton, and Saint Laurent all have offerings of the highest level. The likes of Burberry, Paul Smith, Dolce and Gabbana, DSquared2, Georgio Armani, Balenciaga, Ami, Bally, Alexander McQueen and Visvim are also major players in the luxury shoes market.
Dress Shoe Brands
If you’re seeking an up-market formal shoe, you may want to consider Edward Green, Grenson, John Lobb or Loake (we’ll look at more later on). Want something a little cheaper? Think about Hudson, Kurt Geiger, Dune, Ted Baker, Base London and Aldo. Consider buying a couple of pairs and rotating, and make sure to clean and polish to increase shoe life.
Loafer and Boat Shoe Brands
Here at the Idle Man, we’re big fans of G.H. Bass & Co, founders of the original penny loafer. Since 1876, the Maine-based brand has been producing some of the finest loafers on the market. Other top brands include Church’s, Rubinacci and Gucci. If you’re more of a boat shoe man, Sperry, Sebago, Timberland and Quoddy will all do the job.
Top 10 Shoes
Also known as States, the Puma Suede was born in the late sixties as a basketball trainer. Available in a number of vibrant colours, the Suede epitomises casual street style.
Adidas Stan Smith
Since 1963, the Adidas Stan Smith has gone on to become the brand’s best selling sneaker. They’re a classic and look just as good in the gym as they do with jeans and a tee or as a modern twist to formal dressing. If you’re looking for a low-price, slick tennis shoe, this should be your choice.
Vans Authentic‘s are the perfect low-profile skate shoes. Once again, they’re a classic, with a canvas upper and rubber midsole. Whether you’re channeling your inner Stacey Peralta, or keeping it sleek on the street, up your style with a pair.
Nike Air Force 1
And finally, the best (selling sports shoe) saved until last. The Air Force 1, is an iconic, classic old-school basketball trainer. It’s made for the streets, with durability, comfort and support.
Converse Chuck Taylor
The Chuck Taylor is the original comfort basketball sneaker. Everyone will at least own one pair of Chuck’s in their lifetime. So why not keep it classic with black hi-tops.
As the original all-white leather retro runner, the Reebok Classic had to make the top 10. It’s comfortable, it’s durable and it’s lightweight. What more could you want in a trainer?
New Balance 574
Another classic runner, and the brand’s most sought-after trainer. The New Balance 574 brings running heritage to the forefront. Make sure to use suede protector to keep them looking fresh.
The Coolest Shoes in the World
We’ve had a look at the top ten shoes, all of which were originally designed at least two decades ago. While we’ll always love the classics, shoes have evolved. Brands are now using new materials and designers are taking inspiration from modern culture. Minimalist designs and modern runners have become commonplace, and are now seen by many as “the coolest” shoes out there. Let’s have a look at some of these and more of the “coolest” shoes in the world.
Saint Laurent SL10 Leather High Tops
Let’s start with the Saint Laurent SL10 Leather High Tops. They’re crafted in Italy with the finest quality of red and black leather. As a statement piece, they’re ideal. Wear with some raw denim, for an effortless look.
Adidas Yeezy 350 Boost
Next up, we have the Adidas Yeezy 350 Boost. They sold out incredibly quickly for a reason. Utilising a Primeknit upper and Boost sole unit, the Yeezy’s were met last year with acclaim from Sneakerheads.
Converse All Star Modern Hi-tops
As perhaps one of the less interesting inclusions, but still a must, we have the Converse All Star Modern Hi-tops. An update from the originals, the moderns benefit from new materials and construction techniques.
The Rockrunner is Valentino’s take on the classic runner. It uses three of the brands signatures: stars, camo and rockstuds to create this best-seller. Combining canvas, leather and suede. The Rockrunner, should be your first choice if you’re looking for a high-end runner.
Nike Roshe Run Flyknit
Before the Adidas Yeezy, there was the Nike Roshe Run. Their latest edition, the Nike Roshe Run Flyknit, is innovative simplicity. It’s lightweight, comfortable, flexible, and extremely well designed.
Air Jordan 1 Low “No Swoosh”
The Air Jordan 1 Low “No Swoosh” looks almost like a luxe brand (e.g. common projects), or in fact brandless trainer. Regardless, it’s the perfect lifestyle shoe for someone looking to get into the Jordan brand. The focal point is the shoe’s silhouette. The leather is tumbled, the midsole is a contrasting white, and the shoe generally has an air of luxury about it.
Best Shoes in the World
In the category of modern runners, the Adidas Consortium Ultra Boost KVA, Adidas Ultra Boost Uncaged, Y-3 Retro Boost, and Adidas NMD Japan Black Boost all offer striking designs.
Modern Tennis Shoes
From modern runners to classic tennis shoe derivatives, things begin to go luxe. Common Projects offer perhaps the best tennis shoe on the market with the Achilles Low (which practically built their brand). Other great styles include the Adidas X Raf Simons Stan Smith, the Reebok Club c 85, and Lanvin Suede and Patent Leather Sneakers, if you’re looking for something more luxurious.
A number of high-tops have taken inspiration from basketball. Air Jordan have released a retro version of the shoe Michael Jordan wore on Game 5 of the 1997 NBA finals, when he allegedly had the flu, naming it the Air Jordan XII Flu Game. The Adidas Yeezy Boost 750 of course, once again, sold out almost instantly. The high-top version uses suede rather than primeknit, and features a strap across the laces. Other offerings by Nike include the Lab Air Force 1 Mid “Vanchetta Tan” and the retro Air More Uptempo.
Best of the Rest
And finally, we have a mix of a few styles. In the vintage runner category, there’s the Concepts X New Balance 988 and the NikeLab Air Max 1 Royal. Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy’s collaboration with Reebok (Gosha Rubchinskiy X Reebok Phase 1 Pro) also deserves a mention. This design features his orange Cyrillic lettering on the heel of the premium leather shoe. The Adidas x Rick Owens Tech Runner is perhaps the most recognisable trainer on the market. Even if you wouldn’t wear it personally, I’m sure you can admire its space-age design.
Best Shoes Ever
From the original Converse to the Nike Air Max 1, we’ve drawn up a timeline of the best shoes ever, all of which are groundbreaking in some way or another.
Converse All Star (1917)
The Converse All Star is more or less unchanged from when it was born. The phrase, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, comes to mind. A classic and casual shoe for any outfit.
Converse Jack Purcell (1935)
The Jack Purcell was designed by a world champion badminton player to give more support and protection on the court. Nicknamed ‘smilies’ for its iconic toe cap smile.
Adidas Samba (1950)
The Adidas Samba is the most popular indoor football shoe ever made. It was originally made to help players train on hard or icy ground.
Adidas Superstar (1969)
Influencing sneaker culture since its creation, the Adidas Superstar is definitely iconic. Nicknamed ‘shell toes’ down to its trademark toe cap.
Vans Era (1975)
The Vans Era are one of the original skater shoes. Today they are worn by everyone in endless colour style combinations.
Nike Air Force 1 (1982)
The Nike Air Force 1’s were the first basketball shoe to use Nike Air technology. They were originally completely white and come in a high, mid, or low-top style.
Nike Air Max 1 (1987)
The Nike Air Max 1 is synonymous with famous rap artists such as Eminem and Tupac Shakur. You can see the use of Nike Air technology in the sole of the shoe.
Most Comfortable Shoes
Most Comfortable Running Shoes
What makes a comfortable running shoe you ask? The simple answer, cushioning. Over the past few years, the market for maximally cushioned running shoes has exploded. This began with brand Hoka One One, and their Conquest 2 continuing to provide a striking design and cushioned running experience. The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 offers a more neutral cushioning with mesh upper, while the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 33 opts for a more lightweight design for a faster run. If you’re into aesthetics, no running shoe looks better than the Adidas Ultra Boost, and if you need a little more support, check out the Asics Kayano 23 and the Saucony Hurricane ISO 2.
Most Comfortable Athletic Shoes
Reebok, Adidas and Nike all offer general fitness athletic shoes with plenty of cushioning. The Reebok Crossfit Nano 5.0 is the perfect workout shoe – they’re light and durable with maximum protection. The Adidas Los Angeles look just as good in the gym as they do outside it, while the Nike Air Max 2016 take performance to the next level.
Best Comfort Shoes for Walking and Most Durable Shoes
Comfort and durability in a day-to-day walking shoe is most easily achieved by opting for a retro-runner style. Most brands offer similar levels of cushioning, so it’s primarily about finding something which fits well and which you like the look of. New Balance offer the 574 and 1500, Saucony, the Shadow 6000 and Grid 9000 Premium, while the Nike Internationalist and Asics Gel Lyte III are also sought after shoes for a long day on your feet.
Best Dress Shoes
Best Dress Shoe Brands
Dress shoe construction is a British speciality. Since the early 19th Century, British brands, particularly from the Northampton area, have thrived, maintaining tradition but adjusting to the times with new designs. The Italian’s have a couple of brands which are alright as well. So whether you’re looking for brogues, oxfords, derbies, monks, or loafers, here’s a list of the best dress shoe brands:
- Barker – founded by Arthur Barker (Northamptonshire. 1880)
- Berluti – founded by Alessandro Berluti (Paris, 1895)
- Cheaney – founded by Joseph Cheaney (Northamptonshire, 1896)
- Church’s – founded by Thomas Church and his three sons (Northamptonshire, 1873)
- Crockett & Jones – founded by Sir James Crockett and Charles Jones (Northamptonshire, 1879)
- Edward Green – founded by Edward Green (Northamptonshire, 1890)
- George Cleverley – founded by George Cleverley (London, 1958)
- Grenson – founded by William Green (Northamptonshire, 1866)
- John Lobb – founded by John Lobb (London, 1866)
- Loake – founded by Thomas, John and William Loake (Northamptonshire. 1880)
- Oliver Sweeney – founded by Oliver Sweeney (London, 1989)
- Russell & Bromley – founded by Albion Russell and George Bromley (East Sussex, 1873)
- Santoni – founded by Andrea and Rosa Santoni (Macerata, Italy, 1975)
- Tricker’s – founded by Joseph Tricker (Northamptonshire, 1829)
Best Oxford Shoes
Originating from Scotland, Oxford shoes feature a low heel, closed laces and a cap toe. Whether you’re looking for black or brown, or clean toe-cap or a semi-brogue, here are four of the best.
Brioni Black Leather Oxford Shoes
With an ageless classic design and Goodyear welted soles, this quality offering from Brioni will keep you looking on top of your game (that is if you’re willing to meet it’s large price tag).
John Lobb City II Leather Oxford Shoes
As the ideal complement to a well-tailored suit, these double-stitched toe-cap John Lobbs will complete any formal look. Keep polished at all times, and get your cobbler to replace their leather soles as they start to wear away.
Crockett and Jones Classic Oxford Shoes
Made in the UK and the brand choice of Bond are two things you look for in a dress shoe, and Crockett and Jones offer both. Their oxford is a traditional take on a timeless design.
The Best Shoes in the World – A Definitive List
- Decide what type of shoe – tennis shoes, a modern or retro runners, basketball shoes, or dress shoes.
- Play it safe with an iconic brand such as Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Converse, Puma, Reebok or Asics.
- Iconic trainers include Adidas Stan Smiths and Superstars and Nike Air Max 1’s and Air Force 1’s.
- Think about a modern runner such as Adidas NMD and Ultra Boost, Nike Roshe and Hypervenom.
- Reebok, New Balance, Adidas and Nike are constantly collaborating with designers, so keep an eye out.
- Top dress shoe brands include Berluti, Church’s, Grenson and Loake.
- Think about investing in a pair of British-made oxford shoes – an investment you won’t regret.
On That Note
Whether you’re looking for a trainer, a sneaker, a formal sneaker or a dress shoe, there will be a brand and model out there for you. This guide is a starting point. Know your brands and know your styles. Most importantly once you find a pair you love, look after them to ensure longevity.