Gone are the days when sneakers were worn solely for comfort while exercising, commuting, or running errands on the weekend—and our closets (and feet) are better for it. Much like designer heels, boots, and other footwear, investing in a pair of designer sneakers can upraise our wardrobe with unmatched style and quality.
“There is something about walking in designer shoes that can make any human smile,” says Jeni Elizabeth, a seasoned celebrity wardrobe stylist and fashion expert. “Much like wearing a designer gown or eating that amazing piece of cheesecake that is worth every bite, designer shoes are worth every step,” she adds. According to Elizabeth, life is too short to not buy designer shoes and they are a good investment for your wardrobe and your wallet since “you can always resell” designer sneakers once they’ve served their purpose in your closet. If you're wondering how to make sneakers look elegant, Elizabeth notes that you could wear anything—including leggings and a tee—and designer sneakers will “give you the wow factor and complete the look with a pop that makes any clothing choice amazing.”
Whether you’re looking to make your first investment in designer sneakers or are a seasoned collector, we put together a collection of our favorite styles to help you find your "solemate." We researched dozens of styles from a range of designer brands, evaluating each on material, fit, size range, and style. After consulting with a celebrity wardrobe stylist to narrow down our list, we landed on the following best in show.
Alexander McQueen Sneaker
Every shoe closet needs a pair of classic leather sneakers. Alexander McQueen's sneaker is our best overall pick because the elevated material can be paired with virtually any outfit from athleisure to business casual to your favorite sundress. In terms of comfort, the style also pulls through. Featuring a 2-inch heel and 1-inch platform with a removable padded insole for maximum cushion, these kicks feel a lot like walking on clouds—or a warm hug for your feet.
Price at time of publish: $590
Material: Calfskin and goatskin or textile upper, leather or faux fur lining, rubber sole (depends on color) | Size Range: 35-41 | Colors: White/Black, White/Pastel, White/Lust Red, White/Patchouli 161, Black/White +more | Fit: Narrow, size up a half size if between sizes | Style: Lace-up
Prada Cloudbust Thunder Lug Platform Sneaker
We can’t resist a good chunky platform sneaker. This one made our list because it’s chunky enough to make the statement we want without feeling too trendy or limiting in terms of what we can rock them with. The sawtooth rubber tread sole also adds a layer of subtle details to the soul and creates the illusion of walking on clouds (hence the name).
Price at time of publish: $1,170
Material: Textile and synthetic upper, textile and leather lining, rubber sole | Size Range: 34.5-41.5 | Colors: White, Argento (metallic) | Fit: True to size | Style: Lace-up
Prada Double Wheel Nylon Gabardine Sneakers
We prefer our platforms to make a statement and these Prada sneakers do not disappoint. We love the contrast between the desert beige gabardine material and stark white rubber platform sole—and the added rubber Prada logo on the side gives them a chic retro feel, too. These platform sneakers made our best list because their design is universal enough to wear every day, whether we’re dressed up or down.
Price at time of publish: $950
Material: Gabardine fabric upper, rubber sole | Size Range: 35-41.5 | Colors: Black, Desert Beige, Militare +more | Fit: True to size | Style: Lace-up
Comme des Garçons Play x Converse Chuck Taylor Hidden Heart High Top Sneaker
If you’re on a budget, the best way to snag a cool pair of designer sneakers without breaking the bank is to find a good collaboration between designer and streetwear brands. Our favorite is the Comme des Garçons Play x Converse partnership. These Chuck Taylor sneaks feature the signature Hidden Heart logo from Comme des Garçons for an elevated take on a classic design. And, because these designer sneakers boast an everyday style, you’ll get a lot of wear out of them, too.
Price at time of publish: $150
Material: Textile upper and lining, rubber sole | Size Range: 5-14 | Colors: White, Black, Blue, Grey | Fit: 'Women’s' run large, go down a half size | Style: Lace-up high tops
R13 Kurt High Top Sneaker
High-top sneakers are a fun way to add some spunk to your step. And, these high tops from R13 landed on the list of our top picks because they couple two trendy styles together: The '90s grunge high-top with the 2000s chunky platform sneaker. The design also boasts a zip-up closure on the back, making it easier to slip them on and off. The olive colorway is also to die for.
Price at time of publish: $495
Material: Textile upper and lining, synthetic sole | Size Range: 5-12 (whole sizes) | Colors: Olive, Black, White +more | Fit: For half sizes, size up | Style: Lace-up high tops with a zip-up closure on the back
Vince Warren Suede Slip On Platform Sneakers
Every wardrobe needs a pair of slip-ons and these from Vince offer an elevated take with their suede material, a 1.57-inch platform sole, and rich olive green hue. Also available in pearl, the slip-on design includes elastic on the sides for an easy, comfortable fit that feels secure without being too tight.
Price at time of publish: $230
Material: Suede upper, leather lining, rubber sole | Size Range: 5-12 | Colors: Pearl, Tan +more | Fit: True to size | Style: Slip-on
Off-White Off Court 3.0 High Top Sneakers
Virgil Abloh's Off-White sneakers have amassed a cult following, to be sure. This high-top 3.0 Court style is no exception, much thanks to its numerous striking details, like the tagged tongues, suede trims and the label's sought-after zip ties. (No, you should never cut those.)
Price at time of publish: $705
Material: Leather upper, synthetic lining, rubber sole | Size Range: 35-46 | Colors: Multi | Fit: True to size | Style: Lace-up, high-top
Best Sock Sneakers
Balenciaga Speed LT Clear Sole Sock Sneaker
Sock sneakers offer a level of comfort and durability that is both flattering and trendy. If you’re on the hunt for the best sock sneakers, these from Balenciaga are our pick. We love the all-black look with a contrasting white chunky sole. And, the added clear rubber heel gives them a touch of uniqueness without taking things too over the top. On top of that, they are ultra-comfortable with an ergonomic sole designed with “No Memory” technology.
Price at time of publish: $865
Material: Textile upper and lining, rubber sole | Size Range: 34-42 (whole sizes) | Colors: Black/White, Beige/White, Black/Black | Fit: For half sizes, order next size up | Style: Pull-on
Rag & Bone Retro Runner Sneaker
Retro sneakers add a vintage feel to any outfit. These Rag & Bone sneakers take it to the next level with a designer take on the throwback runner-style sneaker. But, that’s not the only reason it made our list. On top of being très chic and making us want to go for a jog (no easy feat!), they are made from suede and 100% post-consumer plastic bottles, giving them (at least, in our eyes) a gold medal in eco-friendly fashion.
Price at time of publish: $245
Material: Suede and recycled-polyester uppers, textile and leather lining, rubber sole | Size Range: 5-12 | Colors: Paloma, Yellow, Silver +more | Fit: True to size | Style: Lace-up
Burberry Regis Vintage Check Lace-Up Sneaker
With the early 2000s back on trend, logo print sneakers are making a comeback. We love these Burberry chunky sneakers for a modern take on the logo print. With the plaid textile upper and logo-embossed hook and loop strap on top, these designer sneakers boast a retro yet timeless appeal.
Price at time of publish: $770
Material: Textile upper, textile and leather lining, rubber sole | Size Range: 35-41 | Colors: Archive Beige | Fit: Runs small, size up a half size | Style: Lace-up
Pyer Moss The Sculpt
Streamlining a traditional sneaker style is simply the Pyer Moss way. The Sculpt style brings a futuristic approach to design through its exaggerated, bright green sole and drawstring uppers, so you're sure to make a statement while wearing these with any chosen ensemble.
Material: Suede and mesh upper, rubber sole | Size Range: 5-12 | Colors: Ivory/Green | Fit: True to size | Style: Laceless
Veja Venturi Sneaker
When shopping for a good black sneaker, we look for something we can wear when dressed down in a T-shirt and bike shorts or when dressed up tailored jeans or power suit—and this pair from Veja does the trick. And, sustainable shoppers will like to know that they're made from fabric derived from recycled plastic bottles and rubber sourced from the Amazonian forest.
Price at time of publish: $195
Materials: Leather, suede, and rubber | Size Range: 36-41 | Style: Lace-up, low-top
Off-White Out Of Office Sneaker
If you’re on the hunt for a designer sneaker that combines comfort with an off-beat design, look no further. This cult-favorite design from Off-White is a great investment piece for any designer shoe wardrobe for its vintage appeal. (According to the label's website, Abloh wanted to create a tennis shoe with a late 1980s and early '90s aesthetic that was versatile enough to wear all of the time. The result: A hybridized low-top silhouette with the sensibilities of classic streetwear, basketball shoes, and running shoes.)
Price at time of publish: $570
Material: Leather and polyester upper, rubber sole | Size Range: 35-42 | Colors: Ivory | Fit: True to size | Style: Lace-up
adidas x Gucci Wedge Gazelle Sneaker
These eye-catching sneaker wedges are where streetwear meets high-end style. The adidas x Gucci Wedge Gazelle Sneaker takes the retro sporty adidas Gazelle style of the '80s and elevates it with a platform wedge and metallic leather detailing. These are crafted with vegan leather, and the Gucci trefoil detail is an extra special touch. Before you add to cart, keep in mind Gucci recommends ordering a half size smaller than your usual sneaker size.
Price at time of publish: $920
Material: Animal-free leather, rubber sole | Size Range: 34-42 | Colors: Metallic gold | Fit: Runs large | Style: Lace-up
Loewe Anagram Flap Sneaker
One thing you can expect from designer styles is that they're never ordinary or uninspired. The unique details on this canvas slip-on make for a fun twist on a classic style. From the embroidered logo design on the flap to the ribbed toe, these sneaks are sure to garner plenty of compliments. And with a removable insole and 2" cushiony heel, they're comfy, too.
Price at time of publish: $490
Material: Canvas, leather lining, vulcanized rubber sole | Size Range: 35-41 | Colors: Black, soft white | Fit: True to size | Style: Slip-on
What to Look for in a Designer Sneaker
Because designer sneakers come with a steeper price tag, you’ll want to consider style before purchasing. If you have the means and can splurge on a trendier item, great. If not, consider investing in a design that is a little more timeless, like a classic lace-up white sneaker.
Similar to style, color is also something you’ll want to consider. If you’re shopping for an everyday pair of designer sneakers, choosing a color that is more versatile and will go well with multiple looks is always a good idea. And, if you want something bold, makes a statement, and is saved for special occasions, have fun with the hues available and indulge in something eye-catching, like the adidas x Gucci Wedge Gazelle Sneaker. Designer shoes are like a work of art, after all.
Before investing in a pair of designer sneakers, think about the environment you’ll wear them in. If it rains a lot where you live, purchasing a pair of leather or suede sneakers is probably not the best choice since they aren’t waterproof (more on that below!). Also, consider what is important to you as a consumer. For example, if you don’t consume animal products, choosing a vegan leather sneaker is a great option. Or, if you have the environment in mind, a design made with recycled materials might be a better choice.
Are designer sneakers worth it?
Without hesitation, celebrity stylist Jeni Elizabeth says yes, buy the designer sneakers. “I believe very strongly in two things: If you have the ability, shoes, and sheets are always critical,” she explains. “Shoes can live for a lifetime and not only have the ability to give you the self-confidence you need in every aspect of life, but they also finish an outfit with one easy tie,” she adds, noting that you could wear anything—including leggings and a tee—and designer sneakers will “give you the wow factor and complete the look with a pop that makes any clothing choice amazing.”
Do designer sneakers run small?
Yes. Because many designer shoes come from Europe and their sizes are different from the United States, designer shoes “tend to run small,” Elizabeth says. In addition to small sizing, she notes that many designer brands are slim in width as well.
Can you put sneakers in the dryer?
“Absolutely not,” says Elizabeth, adding that it is best to air dry sneakers. “Designer or not, shoes will shrink, fabrics will stretch, and the stitching will come apart." To clean sneakers, she recommends using a toothbrush and some water with light dish soap and, if the shoe is white, she uses a small drop of Soft Scrub as well. Then, she lets them air dry.
How do you clean leather sneakers?
Use a brush, but be gentle and careful in your technique. You can clean leather sneakers, but Elizabeth warns it is a tad tricky. “A dry horse brush always works well on leather,” says Elizabeth. “After brushing, use a soft damp cloth to wipe gently—do not spray or soak as you risk leaving watermarks,” she adds. When it comes to keeping leather sneakers clean, prevention is always the best game plan. Elizabeth recommends leaving leather sneakers at home on rainy days and investing in a good leather spray “to protect from damage.” She also advises wearers to stay away from drugstore leather spray and, instead, to invest in a high-quality brand, just like your sneakers.
Are leather sneakers waterproof?
Unfortunately, leather sneakers are not waterproof. “Leather sneakers should never be worn on a wet day,” explains Elizabeth. “There are sprays that can help with being water-resistant, but never waterproof,” she adds. “Even with darker leather, you always run the risk of watermarks and damage.”
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie Contributing writer Jessie Quinn has a bachelor's degree in fashion journalism and bylines in NYLON and Forbes. Her love of designer sneakers started with a pair of classic logo print low-tops from Coach when she was 14 years old.