Making the case for colourful sneakers

— by Alyson Walsh


Summer dress and sneakers. Photo: Neil Mackenzie Matthews


Though box-fresh, white trainers are always a safe bet, colour has been sneaking into my wardrobe by way of snazzy sports shoes. Recently, I’ve switched out of Veja’s and into retro-chic trainers in punchy brights. What I’ve found is: vibrant sneakers are a quick and easy way to add outfit-boosting colour; they give a casual, playful appeal to tailoring, midi dresses, boiler suits or separates and allow you to play around with shades that you might not choose to wear as clothing.

I’ve always been more of a sportswear label purist when it comes to sneaker shopping and much prefer proper sports shoes designed for running around in (if not properly running). Labels like Adidas, Nike, New Balance and Puma have lots of brilliant styles that look just as good today as the first time I begged my mum to buy me a pair of trainers that weren’t from Woolworth’s.

New Balance has gone to town on high-impact hues. One of the most comfy designs is the 57/ 40 (the shoe I’m wearing below). I recommend going up a half size, as I find New Balance come up slightly small. I would also be wary of some of the newer, wider sneakers with a very flat footbed, I had a pair of 327’s and they gave very little support. So I gave then away to a friend. Also, as a longtime fan of Adidas, I currently have my eye on this gorgeous pink and burgundy pair of Gazelles, and the retro-tastic Mexicana. If you’re looking for comfort, the Nike Air Max is hard to beat. Offering a range of colour options, US label Saucony’s The Jazz 81 comes in 21 different shades, from sunny yellow to hot pink. I bought a red, Jazz-y pair, years ago in New York and might have to revisit, the city and the shoe, very soon.


Sneaker chic. Photo: Claire Pepper


Dial things up a notch by seeking out offbeat colour pairings, bright soles or contrast laces. One of my friends introduced me to Hoff the Brand trainers; a Spanish label which creates each of its styles as an homage to an individual destination. Current favourites are the vibrantly-coloured Las Vegas style and the more muted, earthy tones in the Charleston. Camper is another Spanish brand also known for its highly-saturated footwear, like this autumn’s bottle green sneaker with a bright red sole.

On the high street, Marks and Spencer is betting on chunky leather sneakers for autumn, in three joyful colour-ways. The ever-bright Boden collection has channeled retro-appeal with a cool tennis trainer in leopard, orange or red, Jigsaw‘s orange leather Riva is on my radar and another friend recently sported this eye-catching, hot pink pair from White Stuff.


My Good News shoes ( they’re a few years old). Photo: Claire Pepper


If you prefer your kicks to tread lightly, there are a growing number of sustainable trainer brands worth a try. London sneaker specialist Good News, fuses sustainability with a social conscience by donating residual stock and samples to people in need. Its chunky, retro-style tennis shoes feature recycled tyre rubber soles and organic cotton canvas. I love the vintage feel of their eye-popping Mack trainers. If you prefer a high-top try Juice, the supercool colour-blocked design. Then there’s All Birds, whose sneakers come with uppers of super-fine merino wool (one of the co-founders is a New Zealander) or eucalyptus tree fibre, insoles made from castor bean oil and laces from recycled plastic bottles. Their new colour-ways include the Trail Runners SWT in vibrant orange and the Tree Dasher 2 in teal. New brand on the block, Lerins, uses recycled sea plastic and cork in their eco-friendly trainers. What about kicking around in this pink and green pair? On a monochrome note, agnès b has just launched trainers made from plastic bottles recovered along the Marseille coastline. Cool, non?


More snazzy sneakers:

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Photo 1: the yellow dress was a  thank you gift from Justine Tabak. My trainers are New Balance 574 and the leather bag was from the TNMA collaboration with Mimi Berry.

Photo 2: the jumpsuit is Spry Workwear (no longer available), khaki green jacket was a gift from Toast (last year). Orange jumper from Me+Em  (last year) and socks are from Community Clothing.

Photo 3:  my chinos are very old Margaret Howell sample sale and sneakers are from Good News (a couple of years ago).




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