Breaking Down Fall’s 4 Biggest Sneaker Trends

Photo: Getty Images/Vovchyn Taras
More than a practical piece of footwear, the humble sneaker has far exceeded function these days, crossing over into fashion-forward territory by way of futuristic silhouettes, chunky heritage shapes, and playful designs. The mere fact that luxury fashion houses like Prada, Valentino, and Balenciaga are expanding their sneaker offerings proves just how mainstay the footwear style has become. Lifestyle designs are now the biggest sneaker category in the U.S.

If you're looking to give your own footwear collection a fall refresh, I assume the latest and greatest are of interest. Whether you consider yourself a bonafide sneakerhead or toe the athleisure line with the classics, ahead, familiarize yourself with what’s in on the sneaker circuit this season. If anything, you’ll need something to pair with your on-trend activewear, no?

Chunky sneakers go from fad to mainstream

If you thought chunky sneakers were a 2017 fad, think again. Not only are they sticking around, but they’re gaining traction as the silhouette for grounding leading fall trends like tailored suits, sportswear, and jeans. “This season is all about the ‘dad sneaker’, says Shopbop’s fashion director, Caroline Maguire. “Wear them with a dress, or your favorite denim—they’re the go-to sneaker this season.”

The geriatric running sneaker or ‘dad shoe’ pairs great with jeans cropped just above your ankle bone plus a blazer with strong shoulders to balance the volume of the sneaker,” says stylist and brand consultant, Rachael Wang.

For fall, FILA will be introducing a variety of materials and colors that continue to solidify the brand's iconic Disruptor 2 sneaker as a fashion must-have for youth culture. "The Disruptor 2 has been one of the most popular footwear styles in 2018, both in the US and globally," says Louis W. Colon III, vice president of heritage and trend at Fila North America. "The footwear was originally launched in 1996 and it never left the market. Given the resurgence of '90s nostalgia and the advent of the chunky, ugly, overbuilt shoe trend, younger consumers have had an opportunity to discover the Disruptor 2 and the authentic story behind it for the first time."

Old-school sneakers mount a major comeback

Nostalgia plays a huge role on the sneaker circuit from Nike’s Air Jordans to Reebok’s Freestyle, and more heritage footwear makers. “The vintage vibe is being made modern with brands like Fila, Puma, and Zespa making classic tennis sneakers feel so new,” says Maguire.

“In 2018, we’ve put the focus on showcasing the breadth of the brand's rich history in sports and fashion,” says Colon III.Two key initiatives were the retro running story and the late '90s overbuilt styles, as evident with the success of the Mindblower, Mindbreaker 2.0, and Disruptor 2 silhouettes”

High tops get a techie upgrade

Louis Vuitton paved the way for futuristic sneaker styles with the Archlight, and myriad brands—including Chloé, whose new Sonnie High-Top Sneaker made a major mark on the AW18 runway—are following suit with sporty straps, foam technology, and overbuilt soles.

“I would recommend pairing aerodynamic high tops with sporty color blocked skirts, dresses and shorts," says Wang. "Sometimes high tops can visually cut off the legs at an unflattering point so it’s nice to show extra leg when wearing them."

No novelty embellishment is off limits

If chunky and futuristic styles aren’t your bag, playful colors, trims, and prints may be more your speed. “I’m loving the novelty we’re seeing in sneakers,” says Maguire. “From metallic to snakeskin, mixing of textures, and heights, there’s a style that works for any look.”

Platform sneakers fall into this category, too as spotted on the Maison Margiela fall/winter runway, currently sold out everywhere. “I personally think the best way to wear the platform raver sneaker is to lean into the more is more look by pairing with structured metallics like a silver leather skirt or a patent leather boxy jacket," Wang advises. "These also work well with wider cut trousers in statement colors”

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