Baffled by what’s hot and what’s not in the world of fitness footwear? Tayler Willson is on hand to reveal the trainers that pair performance with everyday style.
Contrary to popular belief – and what your parents told you when you were younger – trainers aren’t just for exercise.
Mad to think that after all this time, all those uncomfortable years of opting for a rigid pair of tanned, pointed loafers as casual wear were in vain, because in truth, your feet were always allowed better.
There’s a fine line between getting it wrong and getting it right, but luckily we’ve found some of the perfect silhouettes that are firmly in the former.
Iconic, stylish trainers that look as comfortable on the running track, as they do down your local Wetherspoons covered in Apple Sourz…
New Balance 990v5
Almost 40 years on from its original release, the fifth iteration of the 990 is still just as sought after.
The initial aim with the 990 was to provide the ideal balance between flexibility and support – something NB achieved through a series of processes, one of which involved creating the upper with a technique known as ‘slip-lasting’. This required finishing the shoe with a single seam and then steaming it into shape.
Underfoot, the 990’s midsole was embedded with a polyurethane footbed coined the ‘Motion Control Device’ – which is found in many trainers to this day.
It was made for running way back when, but the comfort, shape and aesthetics still make it a solid option either on the run or on the town.
Salomon Speedcross 5
Salomon took the essence of the original Speedcross and used advances in technology to capitalise on the values that made it a legend in the first place. By adding attitude, it made the Speedcross attractive.
Design-wise the changes are subtle, such is the desirability of a simple-but-effective trainer, but performance-wise it offers enhanced grip, a more dynamic upper for improved fit, and more stability – the makings of a good casual shoe.
The sole has larger, more aggressive lugs with extra space between them and an updated geometry, delivering better push-off power and braking traction on all surfaces.
The heel unit of the shoe creates a cradle for your rearfoot, ensuring clean foot strike and stability through the stride.
The shoe’s appearance returns to its original silhouette with a higher shape and big heel counter, while also highlighting the aggressive grip.
Although the particulars of a trail shoe sound perfect for, well, trail, they’re also suited to the modern-day sneaker. Simple, yet totally effective.
adidas Ultraboost 19
adidas knows all about good-looking gym shoes, and the Ultraboost 19 is hands down one of the best crossovers available.
When the brand unveiled the initial Ultra Boost in 2015, it claimed it was ‘The Greatest Running Shoe Ever’ – a bold statement, even with the brand’s rich history of producing great footwear.
While it was confident the shoe would surpass other performance options, what adidas didn’t know was that its impact would reach far beyond activewear and spill over into the world of fashion. It was worn by ‘sneakerheads’ globally.
Born from a long line of adidas Ultraboosts (the clue’s in the ‘19’) the UB19 features a list of revolutionised silhouette benefits inspired by, and redesigned for, a new era of running and fitness.
Granted, its hefty sole means it’s not a shoe you should be squatting in, but for running, rowing or benching it does a fine job.
The colourway looks bang on the money when it comes to transitional style, too, and goes with almost anything outside of the gym. Lightweight, sleek and stylish – what more do you want?
Nike Air Tailwind ‘79
The aesthetic appeal of Nike’s Tailwind runner is simple yet striking. With a one-piece mesh upper with suede reinforcements and a classic (and comfy) foam tongue, detailed only by a single Swoosh to each side, the Tailwind is one of a kind.
There is, though, more than meets the eye with this iconic trainer. Concealed within the white midsole is Nike’s first example of the springy sole technology that originally propelled the brand way back when.
This technology: Air. Nowadays Nike Air is a household name. It’s squeaked across courts and bombed over finishing lines for decades, yet all of these feats began with the Tailwind.
This stylish retro runner and its new tech revolutionised the sneaker game. The line remained active, with various Tailwind models being churned out over the years, but the original silhouette was largely forgotten about.
However, in 2018, thanks to a deep dive into the Nike archives, a 1-1 remake of that first shoe hit shops, rebranded as the Tailwind ‘79.
It was a runaway success and the Tailwind’s heroic status was restored. The reason we and the rest of the world love the Tailwind so much is that it’s a fantastic paradox of a sneaker.
It’s basic, yet impactful. Restrained, yet bold. Simple, yet advanced.
ASICS Gel–Quantum 360 5
Japanese brand ASICS is widely renowned for its work in activewear. Whether it’s running, swimming, mountain climbing, netball or anything in between, its association with sport is unbreakable – which is why its inclusion in a piece about fashion might come as a surprise.
ASICS’s black Quantum has training pedigree, with a GEL cushion that makes it suitable for a range of movements as well as social situations.
This shoe present a more futuristic and dynamic aesthetic than ASICS has released before, with a criss-crossed embossing and a logo with a gradient effect.
The letters found on the tongue and heel are inspired by Japanese calligraphy, and the symbols are a reinterpretation of the word ‘infinity’, in a nod to the name of the model.
A trainer that finds itself firmly in the sportswear category, but is also spotted strutting the streets of London Fashion Week is obviously doing something right.