In a world of superfluous soles, obligatory celebrity cosigns, and four-digit thirst traps, the need for understated sneakers is more pressing than ever. No online raffles or eye-watering price tags, these five sneakers have been low-key killing it for decades.
It may have recently received a retro-futurist rework from Jun Takahashi’s UNDERCOVER back in June, but the OG Nike Daybreak from 1979 is anything but gratuitous. Famously laced by Joan Benoit during the first ever women’s Olympics marathon in 1984, the Daybreak has been on sabbatical for three decades, Nike finally shedding daylight on the long-forgotten pioneer in 2019.
The Daybreak is beautifully constructed with nylon and suede uppers, while simple foam midsoles and Waffle-bottom outsoles round out the design.
New Balance 574
A proud stalwart of the New Balance canon, the 574 first came to prominence in the late 1980s, the aesthetically clean, performance-oriented blueprints lovingly adopted by athletes and musicians alike (the 574 was prominent in America’s hardcore scene for its no-fuss attitude).
Constructed with a breathable mesh base, suede overlays and ENCAP midsoles, the stripped-down 574 carries with it the interminable spirit of the New Balance devotee – staunch, stubborn, and constantly revelling in the shadows of more hyped, superficial silhouettes.
No megaphone, no worries. The New Balance 574 is an understated, undisputed classic that never needed social media influencers to generate buzz.,
adidas Stan Smith
Specifically designed for the tennis legend Stan Smith, this minimalist icon first rose to prominence during the early 1970s. A low-profile killer, the adidas Stan Smith never needed any trophies to flex its credentials, the perforated Three Stripes and clean trim cranking back into production in 2014.
A key component in Nike’s perpetual success, the Cortez has appeared on everyone from Forrest Gump to LA gang members, the understated design principles continuing to outpace the more elaborate silhouettes in 2019.
Vans Old Skool
Dial it back to 1977 with the Vans Old Skool, a skate hall-of-famer that’s stacked with minimalist attitude. Built with lightweight, durable suede uppers, the Vans Old Skool was the first shoe to don the ‘Jazz stripe’, the stripped-back silhouette picking up real speed in California’s skate scene during the 1980s.
Yes, folks like Tyler, The Creator and Virgil Abloh have recently dialled it up for the more colourful kids in high fashion, but you honestly can’t beat a triple black ‘Style 36’ – keeping it real in an increasingly artificial world.