The Peak (Hong Kong) - - Fashion • Behind The Seams -

ome time ago, sneaker fans who paired said ca­sual shoes with non-ca­sual out­fits typ­i­cally fell into one of three categories: se­nior ci­ti­zens with ap­pro­pri­ately wizened feet re­quir­ing abun­dant cush­ion­ing; those with a wil­ful dis­re­gard for, or woe­ful ig­no­rance of, a ba­sic tenet of style; and Steve Jobs. Today, how­ever, the man who com­pletes his dressy gear with a pair of sneaks has a dif­fer­ent clas­si­fi­ca­tion: stylish.

But it’s not just any old pair of run­ning shoes that can rise up to the (for­mal) oc­ca­sion. While re­cent years have seen a resur­gence of clas­sic mod­els by Con­verse and Adi­das, pulling off smart sneak­er­ac­cented style is gen­er­ally eas­ier with the pre­mium ver­sions that have been emerg­ing in greater num­bers of late. These high-end sneak­ers are typ­i­cally made from luxe ma­te­ri­als like leather, which makes them look less in­con­gru­ous with tai­lored looks.

Con­sider, for in­stance, Ber­luti’s Play­time sneak­ers (left). Crafted from a sin­gle piece of leather, and fea­tur­ing the brand’s sig­na­ture pati­nated fin­ish, we reckon they look smarter than many dress shoes out there.

In­deed, the luxe sneaker has come a long way since Gucci launched its first ten­nis whites in 1984. Today, there are a grow­ing num­ber of spe­cial­ist sneaker brands, such as New York-based Com­mon Projects, while just about ev­ery de­signer fash­ion brand out there has come up with its own rub­ber-soled shoes. What sep­a­rates this cat­e­gory from mass-mar­ket brands: pre­mium ma­te­ri­als and con­struc­tion (Com­mon Projects shoes, for in­stance, are hand­made in Italy).

Ac­cord­ing to Daniel Todd, buyer for pop­u­lar men’s on­line re­tailer Mr Porter, the site’s sneaker sales have in­creased by more than 200 per cent from 2013 to 2015. With more than 15,000 pairs sold and count­ing, Com­mon Projects is Mr Porter’s top-per­form­ing brand, al­though Todd adds that “other lux­ury brands’ sneak­ers are per­form­ing well these days”, sin­gling out la­bels like Lan­vin, Ba­len­ci­aga, Valentino and Saint Lau­rent. The rise of the high-end sneaker is hardly sur­pris­ing. Af­ter all, if there’s one thing that is as timeless as style, it’s com­fort.


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