The ubiquity of white sneakers in popular culture made me wonder if black ones are also universally beloved. Often they are relegated to being worn as part of a uniform – see waiters and retailers – but in my opinion they are not bad at all. Internet search queries, however, confirm that they cause problems for men. “What to wear with black sneakers?” and “How to wear black sneakers?” are two of the most frequently asked questions to Google’s crystal ball.
How to Wear Black Sneakers
My advice? Don’t overdo it. All-black sneakers are fine if you dress monochromatic or are drawn to all-black outfits, but few, if any, of us continue that way. Look for black sneakers that incorporate other colors, even if they’re just white, off-white, or gray.
It is also important to play with the form. There are really three ways to do it: with a well-known silhouette, something super chunky and/or something streamlined. Each offers something completely different, and what suits you best depends on how you dress. If you are conservative, choose something streamlined. If you’re super athletic or really into fashion, go big. And if you’re a black sneaker expert, try something well-known; you’ll look like an aesthetic veteran.
black sneakers for men
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Best Black Sneaker Overall
Nike Waffle Trainer 2
Nike’s Waffle Trainer 2 was truly born in a waffle iron, when co-founder Bill Bowerman put a tread in one to see what it would look like. It worked well and formed the basis of the brand’s original Waffle Trainer. The Waffle Trainer 2 is an obvious upgrade, but it’s still decidedly retro. Hints of white and pearlescent off-white make this a non-monochrome sneaker, but it’s pretty close to all-black.
Best Upgraded Black Basketball
Hand sewn low latex feit
A master craftsman is responsible for assembling each of Feit’s shoes, which vary in style from gardening boots to latex runners. An upper made from a single piece of breathable, biodegradable shag suede is stitched to a midsole, then the two are bonded to the latex bottom. If they wear out, they can also be resoled.
Best Affordable Black Sneaker
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star
No sneaker looks better beaten than Converse’s Chuck Taylor All-Star. Seriously. Look around and you will rarely find a pair in perfect condition. It’s because people wear them, and wear them hard. They’ll stand up to everyday wear and age gracefully, even when completely black.
Everlane The eternal espadrille
If you need an inexpensive sneaker, The Forever Sneaker from Everlane is a solid choice. It’s inspired by Vans’ Authentic sneaker and Seavees’ classic lace-up low top shoe, but it’s unique at the same time. The sole is thick, the tongue is buckled and the upper is made of 50% recycled cotton canvas.
The Gazelle is an iconic sneaker from Adidas. It came out in a million different colorways, but sometimes the simplest is the best. Case in point? This black and white pair with gold foil Gazelle on the side.
Koio recently launched its classic Capri sneaker in a rejuvenating new leather. What does that mean? Well, regular leather is not durable. The cattle are penned in a small space and kept until slaughter. Regenerative agriculture, on the other hand, encourages a natural grazing pattern, which increases the amount of carbon the soil sequesters, creates healthier and more diverse ecosystems and better leather.
Nike Blazer Mid ’77 Vintage
Another retro Nike sneaker, the Blazer Mid ’77 Vintage does a really good job of retaining its history while becoming a sneaker people want to wear. today. It’s comfortable, cut to the right height and easy to wear whether you’re wearing pants or shorts.
Most likely definitely the most comfortable sneaker on this list. Hoka specializes in performance running sneakers, and the Bondi 7 is no exception. It does here, because, well, it works in everyday environments too – and it’s all black, of course.
New Balance sneakers are everywhere and that means you can get away with sporting a more widely available pair – no one will be able to tell the difference between your general release and the latest ultra-rare collab.
Lined and accented with white leather, the Vans UA OG SK8-Hi LX trainers were the first to feature the brand’s signature side stripe, originally a design by the late founder Paul Van Doren.
Independent shoemaker Oliver Cabell’s Low 1 trainers are all black with two exceptions: gold text logos on the heel and tongue. Otherwise, they’re simply full-grain calfskin on an Italian Margom outsole.
Stepney Worker’s Club Dellow Leather Trainers
The leather sneakers from Stepney Workers Club look a bit like bowling shoes, but without the clown look. They are made of semi-shiny black leather and contrasted with ecru details (laces, logo and vulcanized rubber outsole).
Veja’s V-1o is the brand’s most popular canvas. Like Nike’s Air Force 1, it has multiple parts that can be made in almost any color, creating a wide array of colorways to choose from. But this pair, with a basic black base and white accents, is an easy-to-wear alternative to the colorful iterations.
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