Ever since Nike has turned running shoes into fashion, athletic shoes have become a global style staple. Any major fashion week is also a showcase for the latest sneaker trends. Even luxury brands like Balenciaga or Louis Vuitton release their own sport shoes.
However, many of the older cult running shoes are more popular today as trendy sneakers for everyday wear rather than running. Think Nike Cortez or AirMax 95, which don’t have a high running appeal for most athletes anymore.
That’s why we decided to make our own selection of great running shoes that will make you look good on the street—whether you’re running or just casually rocking it. Let’s be honest and admit that knit-based neutral shoes dominate the list because of the knit’s flexibility and comfort as a material, and its stylish look as a sneaker feature.
Nike Flyknit Racer
Nike has always been leading the race for the trendiest athletic wear and shoes. Its Flyknit Racer is a lightweight and highly breathable neutral shoe for road terrains. It uses Nike’s Flyknit yarn and fabric technology to create a seamless fit that feels like a sock or second skin.
The shoe is more suitable for racing rather than training, although many runners enjoy it for daily use. The Racer may feel quite minimalist, but it actually has a comfortable and responsive cushioning that offers a good balance between the two running style camps. Design-wise, it’s a great looking unisex shoe, whose chic contemporary colorways are often appreciated by street style aficionados. It can also be customized with Nike Custom ID with your own color palette. The Nike Flyknit Racer has been replaced by an equally good looking Nike Air Zoom Mariah Flyknit Racer featuring a one-piece upper and Air Zoom cushioning. The original Racer though is now a sort of a collectible item.
Adidas Ultra Boost
Ultra Boost is equally loved as a unisex fashion sneaker and a running shoe. It put Adidas back on the top of the lifestyle footwear game, while creating a good competition for Nike’s knit technology. The Ultra Boost is a versatile and lightweight shoe with neutral arch support. It combines Adidas Boost cushioning with a Prime Knit upper part, making it a light but very effective and responsive road shoe. The Ultra Boost is a good choice for urban runners looking for a reliable and comfortable daily training pair. Just like with Nike Flyknit Racers, the price is on the expensive side, although the materials and quality will speak for themselves. The men’s version offers 7 colors, while the women’s have 5, mainly featuring classy black, white and beige palettes.
Under Armour HOVR Phantom
Under Armour HOVR Phantom is the Baltimore giant’s latest smart shoe that connects with UA’s free MapMyRun app to track your training. It also doubles as a sexy lifestyle sneaker with sleek colorways and knitted collar, albeit slightly reminiscent of Nike and Adidas’ designs. The shoe is based on Under Armour’s new technology HOVR, a compression mesh that molds the foam cushioning to be more responsive to the energy you give in. The cushioning though is somewhat bigger and heavier, almost making the HOVR a maximalist shoe. The connected tracking is a nice feature that eliminates the need for any complex smartwatches or apps. The men’s red and black styles have already sold out a couple of times because of their trendy lifestyle look. The women’s shoe also features nice colors – we like the sophisticated “normcore” gray.
Puma Ignite Evoknit
Another knit technology makes an entry to this list – Puma’s Evoknit, which snugs the foot all the way to the ankle in this Puma running shoe. The ankle height collar, a large and bold PUMA logo, military-style fabric bands on the back, sleek color combinations and The Weeknd as the shoe’s ambassador make Puma Ignite EvoKnit an obvious sneakerhead hit.
The mid-height Evoknit upper snugs the foot comfortably, while giving enough stretch and flexibility. The Ignite cushioning creates a soft and responsive sole with enough stability, also making it a balanced choice between minimalist and maximalist styles. However, runners looking for more support and firmness might not enjoy this shoe.
New Balance Fresh Foam Cruz
A more affordable option on this list, New Balance Fresh Foam Cruz combines plush comfort and light weight with a great lifestyle look. The shoe uses Fresh Foam technology that provides a full-length, soft yet dynamic cushioning, transitioning from a more minimalist and firmer forefoot into a responsive midsole and a thicker heel for extra comfort. A slip-on upper with a bootie construction makes it super easy to slip into the shoe, while a synthetic midfoot saddle helps keep the foot in place. The New Balance Fresh Foam Cruz has women’s and men’s styles that come in refined and classy neutral colors.
Bonus: Salomon Speedcross
As a bonus point, we are adding a trail running shoe to the list and it’s the Speedcross from the French brand Salomon. Lauded by GQ and Hypebeast as the fashion world’s latest sneaker obsession, the Salomon Speedcross was featured in a number of cool designer co-labs, including a campaign with a cult streetwear brand Palace. It is a durable trail running shoe with an impressive grip that works across diverse off-road terrains, including mud and snow. Relatively lightweight, it has a variety of technical features, such as the Quicklace system, the Mudguard and Anti-Debris mesh on its upper, to tackle the challenges of trail running.
What are your favorite stylish running shoes? Share with us in the comments.