The Top 10 Most Popular Sneaker Brands Right Now
If Covid has shown us anything in terms of fashion, it’s that comfort and athleisure are not dead. They just morphed into a pandemic-friendly version – especially when it comes to footwear. Comfort has never been more at the forefront of all our minds. And who can blame us? Why would we reach for heels or leather loafers when slippers and going barefoot have been the norm for more than a year now?
The good news is that brands have had no problem getting with the program, and you can find sneakers and comfortable shoes anywhere you look. While everyone and their mom is making their version of the chunky sneaker, a few veteran players of the game have stayed at the top. Let’s take a look at the Top 10 sneaker brands out there right now and what makes them so good.
10. Air Jordan
Known for putting celebrity sneaker collabs on the map.
A subdivision of Nike, this collaboration with basketball legend Michael Jordan started way back in 1984. Iconic, limited-edition designs are what Air Jordan is known for. So impactful was this partnership between them that these shoes started the celebrity collab game in the footwear sphere. From there came hundreds of other big-name partnerships like Alexander Wang and Adidas (bringing affordable luxury designer to the masses), Rhianna and Manolo Blahnik (an all-denim line costing upwards of $1235), and Anna Wintour and Nike (Wintour is the editor-in-chief of Vogue America, an iconic name in the fashion industry).
Most famous sneakers: Air Jordan III
Known for helping jump-start the ugly sneaker trend.
Look, ugly is in, and we all have to deal with it. And it’s a good thing! Gone are the days of having to worry about not feeling good in what you’re wearing. Nowadays, anything goes. Need proof? If anyone says anything about your outfit, show them a picture of the Balenciaga Triple S Trainers. They’re big, clunky, and in-your-face ugly. And they still won’t stay on the shelves, even with a $900 price tag. But why are we so obsessed with monster-like footwear? The simple answer is attention. It’s getting harder and harder to stand out from the crowd as mainstream fashion becomes bolder and bolder. But when ugly sneakers hit the runway, it was a new chance to generate gossip and comments about the person wearing them. And a good fashionista knows that’s exactly what makes a good outfit. If the grandmas on the corner aren’t whispering about you as you walk by, then you’re doing it wrong.
Most famous sneakers: Triple S Trainers
8. New Balance
Known for being the original dad sneaker.
Ten years ago, if you’d have asked any fashionable person whether New Balance sneakers were in, they would have laughed in your face. With a thick midsole, a larger toe box, and a very “dad going grocery shopping” look, they weren’t what you’d have reached for when going out for drinks. But times change. And so does fashion. Normcore (the “normal dressing” aesthetic, which includes dad-like shoes, baggy jeans, and printed loose t-shirts) popped up on the fashion magazine’s radar. Before you knew it, we were all rocking New Balance left, right, and center. Pharell had them, so did Victoria’s Secret models, and even Kanye. We mere mortals had no other choice than to follow along.
Most famous sneakers: New Balance 998
Known for introducing sneakers to the luxury footwear world.
Sleek, clean, leather, branded. These are the ingredients Gucci used to cook up their iconic sneaker design. Introduced in 2016, the Ace is so classic they feel like they could have just come out yesterday (it doesn’t matter when you’re reading this article). Why are they so dang popular? Turns out that people love how easy they are to style, their unisex vibe, and how the quality makes them a great investment. At $800+ a pop, they’re not for everyone. But if you can afford them, we recommend that you check them out. If a pair of shoes stay trendy for more than five years with no indication of going anywhere, it might end up being money well spent.
Most famous sneakers: Gucci Ace Sneakers
Known for singlehandedly completing every teen’s outfit for the past few years.
This here is a divisive choice, we know. Teens love them, adults hate them, and a lot of people just don’t get them. They dethroned the Nike Roshe Run when it rose to popularity among middle and high schoolers, and even have memes made in their honor. While we’ll probably never know for sure why every single young one out there suddenly became obsessed with these shoes, we do have a few theories. Being so big and chunky, they make your legs look small and thin. Some people are really into that look. Another reason? They’re a much more affordable version of the Balenciaga Triple S sneaker (see #9 on this list), and we all love a cost-efficient way of being fashionable.
Most famous sneakers: Heritage Disruptor
Known for helping you live your vintage sk8er aesthetic.
“The best sneaker brand” is not a bad way to refer to Vans. While they did start as a skateboarding shoe in 1960, today they represent much more than that. When you put on a pair of Vans, your cool factor goes up, your self-consciousness goes down, and you feel like taking on the world. Excessive? Perhaps. But you can’t blame us for loving them. Just like with Reebok and Converse (see below), Vans came back into style at the same time retro became a mainstream trend. As the shoe of choice of the ’60s chill kids, there’s nothing more vintage than footwear used while playing hookey to go hang out with your buds at the skatepark.
Most famous sneakers: Old Skool
Known for bringing retro back, with a modern twist.
Vintage and retro clothing pieces have been gaining ground on the horizon for quite a few years now. And Reebok was smart when it came to capitalizing on that style. Their shoes are a modern version of old-timey styles, materials, and colors. And people can’t get enough of them. The brand started by making footwear for swanky country club-goers to wear during tennis matches. Tennis was a popular sport in the ’80s, so it made sense to capitalize on that. As the years went by and fashion trends came back full circle, people started looking for modern ways to emulate previous decades. And Reebok heard them calling. Today, the company offers a whole line of retro styles in “worn-in” looking colors like chalk and off-white.
Most famous sneakers: Club C 85
Known for being the generational sneaker.
Born on the basketball court, but currently living in your closet. Converse is one of those brands that your parents wore, you wear, and your kids will probably wear too. Their simple look, classic design, and insanely high durability make them a shoe for everyone and anyone. People have even been married while wearing them! Initially created as a basketball shoe due to their flat rubber sole, Converse started gaining popularity when basketball hall-of-famer Chuck Taylor began wearing them during his games. Then James Dean was photographed wearing a pair, then Olympian gold medalists, several musicians, then Beyonce. The rest is history.
Most famous sneakers: Chuck Taylor Core Hi
Known for bringing fashion into the sportswear world.
You know a brand is huge when their logo alone will make people go “Oh, duh! Of course, I know Adidas!” That alone would be enough reason to be award the brand the #2 spot on this list, but Adidas has much more to offer. As a sportswear company, they’ve been able to capitalize on the athleisure trend almost better than anyone else on this list. Their Adidas Originals line is the perfect synergy between fashion and sport. The outcome? A streetwear brand that signifies coolness, edge, and style. You’ll find anything from branded see-through fanny packs to bright graphic t-shirts, and of course, streetwear sneakers with some of the best designs you’ll ever see.
Most famous sneakers: A tie between the Superstars and any Yeezy on the market.
Known for being Nike.
The indisputable brand taking the #1 position on this list is the world-famous Nike. You can spot it during a Polo match thrown by European royalty or at a neighborhood soccer game in small-town Brazil. Like Adidas, Nike is so well known that their name isn’t even necessary. Show anyone their logo or their Just Do It slogan and you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t know what you’re talking about. They owe their success to years of on-point marketing tactics like sponsorships and collaborations to create huge brand awareness. From running shoes to casual footwear, they have it all.
Most famous sneakers: Air Force 1
And there you have it! A detailed list of the biggest sneaker brand names out there today. Of course, it’s by no means exhaustive and there are a ton of other great options out there to choose from. But no matter your budget or style, we guarantee you’ll find something you like from the options we shared above. Give your slippers a much-needed break next time you get a chance to leave your house!
About the Author
E-commerce evolves at a rapid pace. Mobile shopping, AR, AI, and big data are transforming the way we shop online. Sergey will keep you up to date with all the current technologies that are enhancing global e-commerce.
If you’d like to connect with Sergey, follow him on Facebook.