The sneaker trend isn’t going anywhere any time soon. That said, there’s a market chock full of options, priced all over the place. ‘Luxury’ sneakers may call to mind a certain idea, one that suggests exclusivity or unattainability. However, this isn’t really the case.
Some high-quality sneaker brands are fairly priced. So, the answer to the aforementioned question is no, luxury sneakers are not necessarily reserved for the rich and famous. But it’s important to remember that true luxury is identified by quality, not a brand name. So, below, I’ve outlined some brands that prioritize luxury while maintaining approachable pricing, under $500.
Originals is the heritage line from sportswear brand adidas, made up of everything from sweatpants to sneakers (namely, the ever-popular Stan Smith style). Originals toes the line of extremely wearable luxury and thus has approachable pricing, with most styles falling between a range of $90 to $200, so you won’t deem them too precious.
Axel ArigatoⓇ entered the fashion industry in 2014 as a fashion-forward sneaker brand and has since expanded into sustainable streetwear. From the beginning and in all of its endeavors since then, it has maintained a mission to create luxury products that are accessible and wearable. You can recognize the brand’s sneakers for the chunky rubber soles and creative mixes of mesh, suede, buffed leather and patent leather, all priced between $150 and $350.
Common ProjectsⓇ has been captivating minimalists for nearly two decades. Its Achilles Low is a go-to style for white leather sneakers presumably because of its relaxed-yet-sumptuous look and feel. For shoes so simple, they carry a heavy price tag, around $400 depending on the retailer, which fans can justify based on their versatility (they go with practically any dressy or casual outfit).
Golden GooseⓇ offers low- and high-top sneakers that are subversively designed to look worn. Each pair is complete with scuff marks and stains made from exclusive treatments. Plus, customers can “write a story,” or customize their sneakers, using a selected combination of charms, crystals, studs and handwritten messages. While you’ve likely seen Golden Goose sneakers on A-listers like Jude Law and Reese Witherspoon, the style is uber-popular worldwide, across many demographics. Price-wise, much of the brand’s ‘Superstar’ line sits around $500—the lower end of the luxury sneaker price range.
SWith designs comparable to fellow sneaker designer Common Projects, KOIOⓇ offers great options for those channeling luxurious minimalism for roughly $150 to $200 less. According to the brand’s website, KOIO manufactures in similar high-end factories and uses premium Italian leather for its styles; it also offers more support (e.g., extra heel padding) in its shoes than its main competitor. We’d say that’s quite the bargain.
Maison Margiela™ makes a classic sneaker with a certain je ne sais quoi. The brand produces its shoes with supreme-quality linens, cottons, suedes and bovine leathers, and with both creativity and craftsmanship in mind. Its iconic low- and high-top Replica sneakers, based on 20th-century German army trainers, come in a wide variety of colorways and effects to appeal to minimalists, maximalists and everyone in between. For a heritage brand, these sneakers are pretty well-priced at $495—at least in comparison to its main competitors (like GucciⓇ and Brunello CucinelliⓇ), which will run you several hundreds of dollars more.
From classic white low-tops to chunky sneakers in vibrant hues, Nike has an array of sneaker offerings, and customization services, that can compete with the crème de la crème of luxury. Like many luxury brands, Nike asserts that craftsmanship is paramount to the company, and it’s widely understood that all of this comes from the brand’s value for versatility and meeting the needs of as many consumers as possible.
Over time, certain shoe designs have been adopted by crops of consumers both for sport and not. The brand’s Air Force 1 style (generally priced under $150 for both men and women), became more than just a basketball shoe when consumers began to style them for everyday wear.
For those looking to get behind a brand with extremely fair pricing and earnest sustainability goals, there’s French sneaker company VejaⓇ. The brand presents some enticing luxe sneaker options for under $200 and full transparency regarding how its shoes are made. You can find a full report on Veja’s sustainability efforts by visiting the brand’s website, but in short, part of what makes Veja a luxury sneaker brand is its extensive efforts to create a “green” pair of shoes, like its use of fair trade, organic materials and its endeavors to remove hazardous chemicals from the production process.
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It’s important to note that these are just guidelines for purchasing the best dress sneakers. With over 20 years in the fashion industry, Esquivel Shoes takes pride in being a high-quality resource for shoppers. To learn more about our men’s sneaker collection or any other products we offer, send us a message through this link. We’re here to give you peace of mind and help you make the best sneakers for you.
George is a Southern California-based designer and craftsman who designed his first pair of shoes in 1994 and began honing his craft thereafter. For over 20 years, he’s operated his namesake brand, Esquivel, which specializes in handmade shoes and accessories. In the last decade, George served as Creative Director of renowned luxury bag and luggage brand Tumi Inc. and as Creative Consultant for Italian heritage brand Fratelli Rossetti, and has collaborated with many others for his own brand. George was a 2009 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist, and has been a CFDA member since 2010. When he’s not working alongside his team of artisans at his atelier, Esquivel House, in Downtown Los Angeles, George is enjoying time with his wife and high school sweetheart, Shelley, and their three grown children. He also loves mountain biking and hosting good friends for dinners and fêtes.