Fire Kicks: The 10 Hottest Fashion Sneaker Brands In 2023
If you’re looking to give your rotation the upgrade that it deserves, these are the most sought-after designer sneaker brands right now, Instant cachet guaranteed.
If you take a second to look back at the sneaker landscape just five years ago, one thing you’ll immediately notice is the fact that it consisted of just two or three main brands. Hype surrounding New Balance was nowhere near the levels it’s at today, and ASICS’ path to global domination had yet to even begin. On top of that, while fashion houses did dabble in the sneakerverse, nobody really took them that seriously.
However, fast forward half a decade and everything is totally different. The idea that luxury labels have entered the market is certainly nothing new, and pretty much everyone has a premium pair of kicks in their daily rotation. Unlike back in the day, high-end brands have now become more accessible than ever, and the demand has also skyrocketed as well.
So, if you’re looking to give your collection the luxe upgrade that it sorely deserves, these are certifiably the 10 hottest fashion sneaker brands for men in 2023. Instant cachet guaranteed.
Alexander McQueen is one of the most iconic British houses in the history of contemporary fashion. Founded in 1992 by the legendary designer of the same name, he was doing things that nobody else had ever attempted before, resulting in him being crowned the British Designer of the Year not once, not even twice, but four times.
In 2010, the world of style was left speechless with McQueen’s untimely passing, and the mantle was handed over to Sarah Burton, who became the label’s creative director until 2023. Under her leadership, not only did Alexander McQueen become a couture icon, it also played a huge role in the sneaker scene with silhouettes such as the Sprint Runner and Tread Slick.
However, of all of the models, the Oversized was the one that made the most impact, with hypebeasts and fashion editors alike clamoring to slip their feet into a pair.
There’s absolutely no way that you can talk about the hottest men’s fashion sneakers without bringing up Balenciaga. Founded by Cristóbal Balenciaga over a century ago, the luxury label was originally known for its sculptural, impeccably constructed couture collections that looked like something that belonged in an art museum. Today, thanks to Vetements founder Demna Gvasalia, it has become one of the most hyped streetwear brands out there.
Known simply as Demna, the Georgian designer succeeded Alexander Wang as the Spanish label’s creative director in 2015 and immediately got to work. The Speed Trainer was revealed in 2016, which took on the laceless shoe trend that was running rampant at the time.
However, it wasn’t until 2017 that Balenciaga really found its stride with the now-iconic Triple S. In fact, without this ridiculously chunky shoe, dad trainers definitely wouldn’t be as popular as they are now.
Loewe was relatively unknown to most sneakerheads only a couple of years ago, but now it’s been crowned by Lyst Index as the ‘world’s hottest brand’, beating out Balenciaga for the first time ever.
Thanks to an arsenal of superstar brand ambassadors, a quiet luxury-inspired aesthetic and a collection of new trainer models, the Spanish label is quickly becoming a household name – if you know how to actually pronounce it, that is (“LO-WEH-VAY”, fyi).
Without a shadow of a doubt, the Flow Runner is Loewe’s most popular silhouette. A mix between a retro running shoe and German Army Trainer (GAT), it comes with a mixed-media nylon and suede upper and a unique wavy gum sole that extends up the back of the heel.
Founded by Christian Dior almost eight decades ago, the French luxury goods company was once known mostly for its fine suitcases and skincare products. But, in 2018, things weren’t looking so hot for the brand. So they made the decision to bring in the legendary Kim Jones as its new men’s artistic director. And it was all uphill from there.
Under Jones’ management, Dior has made several high-profile streetwear collaborations. During his first show, he featured lauded American artist and designer Brian Donnelly, also known as KAWS. He followed this highly successful runway with additional projects from the likes of Chitose Abe, Daniel Arsham, Hajime Sorayama, Matthew M. Williams, Raymond Pettibon, Shawn Stussy and Yoon Ahn.
In between each of these collections, Dior also dropped a vast selection of coveted kicks, including the B22, B27, B30 and, most recently, the B57, which pays tribute to classic basketball shoes from the 80s. Take your pick, they’re all legit.
If you ask anyone which fashion house has transformed the most over the past couple of decades, chances are they’d bring up Gucci. Once a brand known for its drab handbags and even drabber coats, the Italian luxury label has now become a fully-fledged streetwear powerhouse that’s known for its eclectic aesthetic and wild yet wonderful sneakers.
When sneaker culture first started gaining momentum, Gucci was one of the first premium marques to break into the scene. Under the stewardship of its then-creative director Alessandro Michele, Gucci revealed a series of embroidered tennis shoes including the Ace and the Screener.
While these were popular, they were nothing compared to chunky models like the Rhyton and the MAC 80 that came after. These were insanely hyped, especially in Asian cities like Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo, where they regularly roamed the neon-lit metropolises.
Today the Ace feels a little played out, so stick to the maximalist models that embody what Gucci represents in 2023.
Monday, March 26th, 2018 was a particularly memorable one. Not only was it particularly chilly, it was also the day that the fashion world froze over with the announcement that Virgil Abloh would be succeeding Kim Jones as the creative director of Louis Vuitton.
This news was massive. Not only had Abloh never had any formal fashioning training before (he actually studied to be an architect), he was also only one of three black men to lead a luxury label of this caliber.
As soon as he joined the Parisian house, he managed to blow everyone’s expectations out of the water. Not only did he design some of the biggest and most critically acclaimed LV collections of all time, he also introduced a slew of sleek sneakers, including a Nike Air Force 1 collab that completely changed the game for good.
However, before Abloh was even on LV’s radar, the company was already interested in making its own trainers. The Archlight was wildly successful in its own way, and back in 2009, it actually teamed up with Kanye West for the Don and the Jasper silhouettes. While these haven’t aged that well aesthetically, that hasn’t stopped resale prices from skyrocketing over the years.
Since the dawn of time itself, Moncler has been known for its chunky puffer jackets, fancy knit cardigans and very cozy hoodies, making it the go-to brand for those who holiday in the Swiss Alps at least once or twice (or three times) a year. Yet what many don’t realize is it’s also released some of the most popular fashion sneakers of recent times.
Styles like the Lunarove and Silencio have always been big hits among the sneakerhead community, but when Moncler announced that it was teaming up with adidas through its Moncler Genius subdivision, the hype levels were totally off the charts. Suddenly, classics like the Campus 00s were getting high-fashion makeovers, and the ever-popular NMD S1 also received the premium treatment.
While the collection was a little controversial to begin with (considering how high the retail prices were), that didn’t stop it from selling out within mere minutes of launching. Now you’re best bet at getting hold of a pair is via resale outlets like Grailed and StockX.
Compared to some of the heritage names in this article, Off-White is a relative upstart. However, even though the Virgil Abloh-founded imprint has only been around for just over a decade, it’s made more of an impact in this short period than most fashion houses do in their entire lifetimes, and that’s not hyperbole.
Originally called Pyrex Vision, it was eventually renamed in 2013 to Off-White, and was described by Abloh as “the grey area between black and white”. Since then, it has dropped sell-out collection after sell-out collection, tapping everyone from Rimowa to Takashi Murakami for collabs.
But, its most significant project of them all has got to be ‘The Ten’ with Nike, which made its grand debut in 2017. For the first time ever, the American sportswear company was letting a designer fully rework some of its most iconic silhouettes. From the Air Force 1 Low to the Air Jordan 1 High, Abloh applied his signature deconstructed aesthetic to each of these models.
This partnership single-handedly changed the trajectory of the sneaker game, and even though he sadly passed away in 2021, Abloh’s legacy will continue to live on for generations to come.
In fact, according to a The New York Times interview with his wife Shannon, there’s still a year’s worth of Off-White x Nike trainers that we still haven’t seen yet, so keep your eyes peeled.
Established in 1913 by Mario Prada, storied fashion house Prada started off as a leather goods emporium, creating some of the finest briefcases and trunks the world had ever seen. Eventually, Mario’s granddaughter Miuccia took over the business, and it completely exploded. Absolutely everyone wanted the labels’ lipstick skirts and Pocono nylon accessories, but little did we all know, the best was yet to come.
In 2019, Raf Simons was named as its co-creative director, and nothing has been the same since. The celebrated Belgian designer brought Prada into the realm of streetwear, and he has since worked on iconic sneaker models such as the Cloudbust Thunder and the Downtown.
Simons also secured a collab with adidas, working with the German sportswear giant on a vast selection of apparel and footwear. Not only did this capsule sell out in seconds, it was also living, breathing proof that the world of sneakers and high fashion can co-exist as one.
Today, the Systeme and Downtown sneakers remain highly coveted, whether you prefer futuristic or classic, respectively.
Last but by no means least, we have Rick Owens. While some consider its grungey vibe to be an acquired taste (there’s a reason why the man behind the brand is nicknamed the Lord of Darkness), there’s no denying the fact that the American label has been responsible for some of the coolest designer sneakers ever made.
Back in the 2015 to 2017 era, Rick Owens’ DRKSHDW, Geobasket, Ramone and Tech Runner were the premium models everyone wanted before luxury kicks were even a Thing.
While most of these have since been discontinued (automatically making them grail-worthy collector’s items), the gothic aesthetic remains via highly desirable collabs with the likes of Converse, Dr. Martens and sustainable shoemaker, Veja.