The 10 Coolest High-Top Sneaker Models For 2023
High-tops will always be cool, and these are the only models you should be considering in 2023, from designer to independents.
The high-top is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most popular sneaker styles in the history of the planet. While it’s quite difficult to pinpoint when exactly the silhouette was first introduced, according to all the myths and legends, Converse was the first company to release a high-top shoe back in 1917: the Chuck Taylor All Star. It was totally groundbreaking, especially during a time when basketball kicks all had low-top designs, resulting in many sprained ankles and broken dreams.
However, while high-top sneakers were created specifically for the hardwood, over a century later, they’ve completely infiltrated all of our wardrobes, becoming a core part of our daily fits. Even if you’ve never touched a basketball in your life or stepped foot on a court, chances are you probably have one or two high-tops in your collection.
If, for whatever reason, you still don’t have a pair in your daily rotation, then you’ve come to the right place. Below we run down the most GOATED high-top sneaker models, the reasons why they’re so iconic, and the colorways to buy them in today. So lace up.
Air Jordan 1
Come on. There’s just no way that we can talk about the best high-top sneaker models in history without giving the Air Jordan 1 a special shoutout. Michael Jordan’s first official signature shoe was released in 1985, and while Jordan himself was a little hesitant to sign with Nike to start with (MJ’s first choice was actually Adidas, believe it or not), his mother, Deloris, convinced him to give the Swoosh a shot, and it just goes to show that mother’s always right.
Now a multibillion-dollar sneaker empire, the Jordan Brand line has released over 30 silhouettes since, but the Air Jordan 1 for many is unmatched. The ‘Chicago’ was the colorway that started it all, and was later followed by many other legendary palettes like the ‘Bred’, ‘Royal’, and ‘Shadow’ as well as a slew of ultra-hyped collaborations from the likes of A Ma Maniére, Dior, fragment design, Off-White and Union LA.
With the AJ1’s 40th birthday just around the corner, expect some pretty significant drops over the next couple of years.
Adidas Forum Mid
The story of the adidas Forum Mid actually begins two years before the Air Jordan 1, and it’s regarded by many as a turning point in footwear design. The brainchild of Jacques Chassaing, he wanted to create a high-top sneaker that was actually made with basketball in mind. So, rather than heading straight to the drawing board and sketching, he took the time to have in-depth conversations with coaches, players and even physiotherapists to try and figure out where to add additional support. This resulted in the now-iconic ‘criss-cross ankle’ system.
2023 marks the Forum’s 40th anniversary, and even though it’s been around much longer than most trainer fans have even been alive, it continues to be one of the German company’s bestsellers.
If you’re looking to add a pair to your collection, you can’t go wrong with the original ‘Royal’, ‘Triple White’, and ‘Vivid Red’ color schemes. That said, it also has a truckload of cool collabs, including atmos, Hebru Brantley, Ivy Park and a special Prada project from 2022 that completely blurred the line between sportswear and high fashion.
Balenciaga Speed Trainer
Speaking of high fashion, high-top sneakers aren’t made exclusively for the hardwood. In fact, the Balenciaga Speed Trainer was actually created with the runway in mind. One of our favorite fashion sneaker brands ever, Balenciaga sent the Speed Trainer down the catwalk in 2017, and it became an instant hit with fashion editors and hypebeasts alike.
Six years later, its design has pretty much remained unedited and unchanged. While its knitted, sock-like upper was a little controversial at the beginning, people quickly came around to the sleek yet futuristic look.
While Balenciaga has since gone on to release a slew of highly sought-after models (thanks to the creative direction of Demna Gvasalia), the Speed Trainer will always be one of the greatest pairs to come from the Parisian fashion house.
If you want to add one of the most comfortable sneakers ever made to your collection, the original black and white colorway shouldn’t be missed. Yet there are now a number of other styles that should be on your radar, including one that’s fitted with a set of laces and another with an outrageously chunky foam midsole that’s sure to take your shoe game to new heights – both physically and figuratively speaking.
CLAE Bradley Mid
If you’re in the market for high-top sneakers that will last you a lifetime, you should definitely check out the CLAE Bradley Mid. One of the Los Angeles label’s most popular silhouettes, it boasts a clean and classic look that will literally work with anything you throw on, whether that’s a full suit or a comfy, oversized hoodie.
Crafted from premium oiled leather that repels water, it’s tied together with flat cotton laces and it sits on top of a midsole that’s made from at least 30% recycled rubber, giving it an environmentally-friendly edge.
The chocolatey ‘Cocoa’ colorway is arguably the best of the bunch, but the Bradley Mid is also available in a selection of other versatile shades, including ‘Off-White’ and ‘Triple White’.
Cariuma Oca High
While the Bradley Mid considers the environment, the Oca High is all about it. Produced by sustainable brand Cariuma, this skate shoe-inspired silhouette is rendered in a number of earth-friendly materials, including fair trade canvas, LWG-certified leather and suede, as well as proprietary vegan materials.
Not only that, the Oca High also features a GRS recycled lining, a natural rubber insole, and recycled plastic and organic cotton laces. Plus, for every pair you buy, Cariuma will plant two trees as part of its reforestation initiative. So if pleasing Mother Nature means a lot to you, then these high-top sneakers will have her nodding in approval.
Being one of the Brazilian label’s most popular silhouettes, the Oca High is available in a variety of colorways. Right now, our favorite is the ‘All Black’ from the Therma pack (a collection made using water-repellent vegan suede), but you’ll also find designs incorporating leopard print and plaid patterns, as well as exclusive editions from the likes of James Cameron’s Avatar, National Geographic and Vincent van Gogh.
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star
Frankly, there’s no way you can talk about the greatest high-top sneaker models without bringing up the GOAT, the Chuck Taylor All Star. The OG of all OGs, this is the shoe that started it all.
Introduced to the world over a century ago, it was made famous thanks to the man, the myth and the legend that is Chuck Taylor. While it’s regarded by experts as one of the greatest basketball shoes of all time, Taylor himself wasn’t a particularly good player. In fact, when he approached the American sportswear company, all he had was a semi-professional career under his belt.
What he was good at though was selling. The man was a natural-born salesman and offered a lot of advice on how to improve the All Star. Eventually, in 1921, Converse decided that it was going to add a patch on all of its flagship sneakers, lovingly inscribed with Chuck’s name.
There are quite literally hundreds, maybe even thousands, of colorways and material combinations to choose from, but the ‘Black Canvas’ is still widely considered the best. Converse has also executed some of the hottest collabs in the history of the sneaker industry, allowing the likes of COMME des GARÇONS Play, Fear of God, Kim Jones and Off-White to put their own stamp on a hall of fame kick.
New Balance 650
New Balance is one of the most hyped sneaker brands on the planet right now, but did you know, back in the 80s, it completely dominated the basketball scene with trainers like the New Balance 650?
A high-top version of the ever-popular 550, this elevated silhouette was recently brought back from the archives in its original form, and sneakerheads just can’t get enough of it.
With a full premium leather construction, the 650 is decorated with perforated detailing throughout for better ventilation. The iconic ‘N’ logo is stamped across the lateral and medial sidewalls, and underfoot, while the midsole is infused with plush rubber for unrivaled comfort both on and off the court.
Even though it was only resurrected recently, some of the streetwear world’s biggest names have already released their own versions of it, including Aimé Leon Dore, Joe Freshgoods and Japanese visionary Junya Watanabe.
Nike Air Force 1 High
If someone asked you to draw a rough sketch of the Air Force 1, chances are your masterpiece would resemble a low-top. But, believe it or not, when Bruce Kilgore worked on the shoe back in 1982, it made its grand debut as a high-top sneaker, offering ample ankle support and a collar strap for an improved fit.
While its lifestyle-focused counterpart has become more popular over the years, after four decades, it looks like the Nike Air Force 1 High is experiencing a renaissance, with an influx of coveted colorways and collaborations making their way into the sneakerverse.
The classic ‘White’ and ‘University Blue’ combo is hard to beat, but if you’re really looking to upgrade your collection, check out exclusive pairs from 1017 ALYX 9SM, Billie Eilish and Public School New York.
In 2022, luxury French fashion house Louis Vuitton also worked on its own opulent pairs, complete with premium calfskin leather, gold metallic hardware and that all-important ‘LV’ monogramming throughout. This was one of the last projects that Virgil Abloh worked on before his untimely passing, making it even more special.
Vans Sk8 Hi
Just like there are high-top sneakers for the runway, there are also high-top sneakers for the halfpipe. If you ask any skater what their most iconic trainer model is, they’re likely going to mention the Vans Sk8 Hi.
Originally known as the Style 38, this kickflip-ready kick was first introduced in the late 70s and was the second shoe to come from what was then known as the Van Doren Rubber Company.
While a lot has changed in the world over the past five decades, the design of the Sk8 Hi (as well as the buzz around it) has remained exactly the same. The first pair was crafted from a hard-wearing canvas, but you can now get them in everything from leather to nubuck.
There are also versions with red hot flames emblazoned across the sidewalls, and industry-shaking iterations by A Bathing Ape, Awake NY, Foo Fighters, Sandy Liang and New York City’s very own Supreme, which has produced some of the most sought-after resale pairs.
Yeezy Boost 750
Even though the partnership between Kanye West and Adidas is now officially over, the streets will never forget this high-top. The first shoe that Ye worked on after parting ways with Nike, the Yeezy Boost 750 was unlike anything we had seen before.
Featuring a particularly tall cut that extends way past the ankle, the 750 is fitted with two Velcro straps and a zip across the sides to keep your feet securely locked in place. While West had originally planned to make them out of premium leather, when they were eventually released at the start of 2015, they were outfitted in a buttery suede instead.
Underfoot, the ribbed midsole is infused with Adidas’ signature Boost technology for unparalleled comfort and cushioning, and it’s tied together with a pair of extra thick rope laces that look like something stolen from a pair of hiking boots.
The ‘Light Grey’ colorway is probably the most hyped since it was the first one to drop, but there are Yeezy Boost 750s that are completely submerged in black, as well as versions with glow-in-the-dark soles. Just like anything that’s attached to Kanye West’s name, expect insanely high resale prices.