Sneakers: they’re so multi-purpose. Perhaps that’s how they’ve managed to become a mainstay of luxury footwear, with crops of brands having gotten behind the burgeoning market in recent years. Today, there’s a footwear market abundant with sneaker options for some of the most ceremonious of occasions.
If you’re on a mission to find a pair of sneakers to complete an effortlessly dapper, smart-casual or semi-formal look, you must learn who makes the best dress sneaker for men. Read on for a list of brands who are on top of their dress sneaker game.
For a minimalist-inspired look
Both in terms of aesthetic and versatility, Common ProjectsⓇ sneakers are a minimalist’s dream. That’s because the designs are simple enough to wear with a range of both casual and semi-formal attire, or to more easily transition a look from day to night. The brand’s Achilles Low sneaker in white is a favorite among celebrities and technology CEOs alike, assumedly because of its versatile nature and its relaxed-yet-sumptuous look and feel. For shoes so simple, they carry a heavy price tag, but many fans can justify them based on their wearability.
New York City-based FEITⓇ offers handmade sneakers with unique details (e.g., an upper made from a single piece of rare, Cordovan leather and suedes that have been vegetable-tanned) for understated sophistication. Its Hand Sewn Low and High Rubber models are great dress sneaker options; a departure from the thick gum sole look, FEIT makes them with high-quality leather that is hand-stitched to a thin rubber sole for a seamless leather look.
With a nearly identical design to Common Projects, KOIOⓇ sneakers are a great option for people channeling luxurious minimalism for a lesser price (roughly $150 to $200 less). According to its website, KOIO manufactures in similar high-end factories and uses premium Italian leather for its styles. From a comfort perspective, the brand offers more support (e.g., extra heel padding) in its shoes than its main competitor.
KOIO has received Hollywood’s stamp of approval, with actors like Seth Rogan and Jordan Fisher sporting its styles for public appearances and photoshoots. In 2019, Rogan sported a pair of the brand’s Capri Triple White style for a red carpet premiere in London, while fellow actor Jordan Fisher wore its Avalanche Creme sneakers for a New York Magazine photoshoot just last year.
A nod to classic European sophistication
If you’re searching for bespoke quality (and you’re content with paying comparable prices), BerlutiⓇ could very well be where you’ll find your perfect pair of dress sneakers. The century-old Parisian shoe company uses calf and alligator leather to elevate the look of some sneaker styles and help its customers achieve the buttoned-up look on which it’s built its reputation.
Similar to its apparel and homeware, Brunello CucinelliⓇ sneakers epitomize understated elegance, a tailored look and an ultra-luxurious feel, with the brand’s “wow factor” coming from an ability to create timeless styles from some of the best quality suede and leather and attention to craftsmanship. Its leather, calfskin and suede styles are particularly great options for business-casual, semi-formal and day-to-night looks.
It’s hard to wear a pair of GucciⓇ sneakers and feel frumpy, wouldn’t you say? While they’re not the most widely endorsed sneakers, Gucci’s status as a heritage luxury brand means its sneakers are aesthetically classic and will seldom let you down sartorially.
Gucci sneakers usually have a slim profile with some signature motifs, like the stripes or the logo or both, though in some past seasons they’ve taken more creative liberties by adding distressed effects, embroidery and chunky rubber soles. Whether those details fall in line with your aesthetic is a question you’ll have to ask yourself, but you can rest assured that these kicks are sure to elevate any look.
Maison Margiela™ produces its shoes with supreme-quality linens, cottons, suedes and bovine leathers, as well as with creativity and craftsmanship in mind, which is why its styles make for perfect dress shoe options.
Margiela’s 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.
Keeping sustainability in mind
One of the largest sportswear brands in the world, AdidasⓇ has turned heads in the last decade based on its collaborations with some of luxury’s finest creators, from Kanye West to Raf Simons, with the latter making a bigger mark on the dress sneaker market. Simons’ relationship with adidas resulted in many noteworthy releases, including a Stan Smith strap—a variation of the already popular, original Stan Smith model that has proven itself a perfect option for dressing both up and down.
From a sustainability perspective, the company has emphasized the importance of measuring its environmental impact and has set forth a plan to progressively reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its operations over the next few decades.
More than most (if not any) other luxury sneaker brands, VejaⓇ presents some enticing styles along with transparency regarding how their shoes are made and later recycled.
Veja’s sleek leather sneakers offered in an array of colorways, including those from the brand’s Rick Owens collaboration, would certainly polish off most looks you could conjure up.
Ready to order a pair of dress sneakers?
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.