Of all the components of a back-to-school outfit, none feels better to wear than a brand-new pair of sneakers. This was the case even before sneaker culture became as popular as it is today, and now everyone else is as likely to be fixated with what’s on your feet as you are.
Even if you’re the type to rotate your sneakers, there should be a single pair that you return to consistently. This sneaker should be somewhat timeless, easy to wear with most everything, and acceptable to get dirty from everyday wear. The most hyped pair of sneakers doesn’t fit the bill, so you’re better off spending less on what should be a staple throughout the school year ahead.
To help you prepare for your return to school, we’ve put together a range of sneakers that are readily accessible and won’t break the bank. But most importantly, they’re all cool — be it a trendy pair of Crocs or a Nike Air Max that’ll never go out of style.
Adidas Superstar ($90)
Adidas has so many Superstar variants that we could all pave our way with the classic sneaker without wearing the exact same thing. We’ll encourage you to do your own such digging, but a great place to start is this thumb print-like treatment where we’d usually see solid colors.
Vans Carbon UltraRange EXO ($90)
The contours of this sneaker may look familiar, but Vans has packed this Old Skool lookalike with lightweight cushioned midsoles, a sturdy carbon-reinforced upper, and a grippy lugged outsole. In other words, it’s not your dad’s pair of Vans.
Nike Air Force 1 Crater Flyknit ($110)
Another classic revamped is this Air Force 1 with a sole made of trash and a sock-like knit upper replacing the sneaker’s usual leather. When climate change comes up in class, you won’t have to feel guilty wearing these.
Converse Run Star Hike ($110)
The Run Star Hike is one of Converse’s coolest new silhouettes in recent years — and proof that the Chuck Taylor never stops giving. It may look like a certified unit, but Ortholite cushioning make it as comfy as it is imposing.
New Balance 327 ($90)
Casablanca helped ring in New Balance’s 327 model last year, and the in-house versions are surprisingly cheap for such an unordinary sneaker. If you want to get a little weird with your footwear, the 327 is by far the best return for your money.
Nike Air Max 90 ($120)
The Air Max 90 arrived more than a decade before anyone who’s in high school was born, but it’s still just as stylish today. And unlike a pair of all-white Air Force 1s, the AM90 won’t have the same loaded associations when it starts to get cooked and dirty.
Crocs Classic Clog ($50)
Even though they’re not technically sneakers, it’d be malfeasance to send you back to school without mentioning the hottest shoe of the summer. Crocs just dropped a whole bunch of new colors for its staple silhouette, and if you want our picks for other versions head right here.
Adidas x LEGO UltraBoost DNA ($180)
If you’ve grown out of playing with Lego, congratulations, you’re now old enough to start indulging in nostalgia. The iconic brick shape lends itself surprisingly well to sneakers, and you could even use it to customize your kicks with real pieces from your neglected collection.