As the majority of athletic brands strive for wild patterns and innovative specs, the best minimalist sneakers take things in the opposite direction, emphasising superb quality by way of subdued colourways and a few choice materials. As a result, men’s minimalist sneakers deliver an unparalleled tier of stylish versatility, duly blending with a broad spectrum of outfits, engagements, and environments. It’s then no wonder that brands like Common Projects have taken the world by storm over the last decade and a half. Meanwhile, there are a slew of Common Projects alternatives just as worthy of your attention. Indeed, whether you’re seeking Swedish sneaker brands, Italian sneaker brands, or just some sneakers similar to Common Projects, you’ll find all that and more below. Without further ado, we present the 25 best minimalist sneakers for men.
Common Projects – Original Achilles
The one, the only: Original Achilles from Common Projects. Since their auspicious debut in 2004, these minimalist sneakers have come to redefine footwear, paving the way for an entire industry of luxury trainers. Decked out in white from front to back (gold-embossed serial number notwithstanding), every pair of Achilles deliver top-shelf quality with Zen-like precision. Drake loves them. Kanye loves them. You’ll love them too. Assuming you can afford them, that is.
Common Projects – Suede Slip-On Sneakers
One look at the Suede Slip-On Sneakers from Common Projects, and your feet are already feeling more comfortable. Distinguished by premium materials and a downright classic design, each silhouette hosts elasticated side inserts, leather lining, and a padded collar for all-day support. Rarely does simplicity render such an envious impression as it does with these heavenly kicks.
Oliver Cabell – Erving
Looking for an affordable alternative to Common Projects? Then check out Oliver Cabell, a Minneapolis-based sneaker brand that launched in 2017 and wasted no time in exploding all over the world stage. The Erving–which reworks a classic cap-toe basketball sneaker from the ground up–remains one of the brand’s finest statements. Every pair is hand-stitched and lasted in Albacete, Spain, using an array of quality leathers. Sealing the deal are waxed cotton Italian laces.
Oliver Cabell – Low 1
Oliver Cabell keeps the hits coming with the Low 1, another bona fide Common Projects alternative. Like the Erving, this low-top silhouette employs a range of premium leathers to downright superb effect. The result is a minimalist stunner that looks clean, feels great, and won’t deplete your bank account.
Axel Arigato – Court
Minimalism and Scandinavian design are practically interchangeable concepts, so it’s no surprise that Swedish sneaker brand Axel Arigato crafts impeccable minimalist footwear. The Court is no exception, though it takes things a step further by incorporating a classic 70s aesthetic. Throw in prime leather construction and you’re looking at the best of all worlds. Should you put these babies to work on the basketball court, you might find yourself with an extra advantage, in that your opponents are bound to be distracted, if not jealous.
Axel Arigato – Clean 360 Laceless
True to its name, the Clean 360 Laceless sneaker delivers utility and convenience in equal measure. Every pair is cut from premium Italian leather and equipped with a cushioned footbed, extra arch support, and a rubber cup-sole. Comfort lives here. So does style. In fact, these quality kicks leave virtually nothing to be desired, unless you’re the kind of guy who simply needs laces.
Axel Arigato – Cap Toe
Featuring Italian suede on the upper with a leather cap-toe, this dynamic sneaker from Axel Arigato is fashionable enough to rock at semi-formal engagements. For the rubber cup-sole, Arigato went with durable White Italian rubber, while supple calf leather lines the interior. Choose from a variety of striking (but subdued) colourways, and expect nothing but comfort and class in return.
Church’s – Mirfield
UK-based Church’s has been in the game for almost 150 years, with a substantial legacy to show for it. And while the brand is primarily synonymous with faultless dress shoes, it also serves up one of the best minimalist sneakers you can find. That sneaker goes by the name of Mirfield, and it combines a genuine leather upper with breathable textile lining, lace-front closure, a cushioned leather footbed, synthetic outsole and a round-toe silhouette. Slip on a pair and you’ll soon find yourself kneeling at Church’s altar.
St Laurent – Andy
French label Yves Saint Laurent needs no introduction, but its renowned minimalist sneaker, Andy, very well might. Hence, we present this extraordinary low-top, which was crafted in Italy from the finest leather. Just how much leather, you ask? Try 100% leather inside and out, barring the rubber sole. Look for the gold-tone embossed logo stamp and branded insole, since the last thing you want is to drop over $800 on sneakers just to end up with a knock-off. Luxury trainers don’t get more luxurious than this, folks.
St Laurent – SL/06 Classic
Saint Laurent whips out another triumph with the SL/06 Classic, which weaves calf leather lining, a patent leather upper, and a flat rubber sole to perfection. Also featured are a round toe, lace-up front fastening, and a brand embossed tongue. Like the Andy, this silhouette will cost you. Like the Andy, it’s worth every cent.
Lanvin – Cap Toe Sneaker
Even after all these years, France’s oldest couture house, Lanvin, deftly keeps up with the times. For proof, look no further than the brand’s cap toe sneaker, a masterstroke of material and design. With its army-green matte leather upper, leather lining, and rubber sole, the sneaker emanates with style, so much so that it can easily elevate your smart casual or semi-formal get-up. This is what the best minimalist sneakers for men are all about.
Greats – Royale
Greats come to us from Brooklyn, NY, and offer premium footwear at an affordable price. The brand’s best-selling trainer to date remains the Royale, a symphony of full-grain leather and minimalist design. Every pair is crafted in Italy to ensure nothing but the utmost tier of quality. If you’re looking for sneakers similar to Common Projects, you’ve found some right here, and at under half the cost.
John Lobb – Levah
Since 1849, English shoemaker John Lobb has represented the utmost tier of craftsmanship in the footwear arena. To this day, the brand still handmakes its sneakers the traditional way, with each pair taking several weeks to produce. Hence, one shouldn’t scoff at the high price tag for these minimalist low-tops, because the care that went into making them is evident at every stitch and turn. From the premium leather construction to the brushed finish to the elegant-but-casual tone, the Levah sneaker takes minimalist footwear to the next level.
Adidas Rod Laver Vintage
While arguably not as prestigious as your average Swedish or Italian footwear brand, Adidas might have very well started the minimalist sneaker trend back in 1963, when it unleashed the Stan Smith, i.e. the world’s first leather tennis shoe. In the time since, the brand has certainly explored a full spectrum of styles and materials, but that doesn’t mean it can’t churn out the occasional minimalist superstar. Enter the Rod Laver Vintage, which simultaneously bursts with retro style and modern allure. And it all comes in at a price that’s simply too good to refuse.
ETQ Amsterdam – LT 04
Launched in 2010 as an answer to the ubiquitous trend of excessive branding, ETQ Amsterdam lets the materials and designs do all of the talking. Accordingly, the LT 04 is as understated as it is exceptional, with a buffed calfskin upper, treaded rubber sole, padded collar, and tonal stitching. Simple. Beautiful. Optimal.
With so many luxury labels having their sneakers made in Italy, it’s only natural that the beloved country would already host some of the best minimalist brands. One of those Italian sneaker brands is Superga, which has been in business since 1911. For proof of Superga’s brilliance, scope its respective ranges of low-top and lace-up sneakers, which deliver plush colourways and blatant quality at relatively low cost. If you like eye-catching footwear, prepare to fall in love.
Grenson – Low-Top Men’s Sneakers
UK’s Grenson has been operating for over a century, but it just recently moved into sneaker territory, resulting in these outstanding low-tops. Made in Europe using canvas and natural latex, every pair retains a vintage aesthetic, thereby exuding all sorts of classic personality. Able to blend with casual and smart casual wear alike, these sneakers are both stylish and unfettered, and that’s definitely the point.
Clae – Bradley
Los Angeles-based Clae launched in 2001 and has been killing it ever since. While the brand is no stranger to minimalist footwear of all varieties, the Bradley remains its best-seller year after year. Featuring clean white leather uppers, leather lining, embossed details, and a cup-sole, the classic sneaker is like your favourite tennis shoe reconstructed by way of a Scandinavian influence. That it’s also one of the best minimalist sneakers in the world practically goes without saying.
Eytys – Mother
Presenting the mother of all minimalist sneakers, presuming a name is anything to go by. What we’re trying to say here is that these top kicks from Swedish sneaker brand Eytys (pronounced “eighties”) are called Mother, and they’re spectacular. Meanwhile, like a good mother, they gave birth to the brand’s ongoing success. Of course, it’s not hard to see why, as the trainers are astounding in every conceivable regard. Featured in the range are a variety of truly distinctive colours, along with a healthy selection of materials from which to choose. Throw on a pair to see what all the fuss is about.
Jak – Atom
Every pair of Atom sneakers is designed and handcrafted in Portugal, where Jak cuts full-grain leather from hand-selected hides…and that’s just for the monochromatic upper. Lining the inside is natural calfskin leather, leading to supreme, long-lasting comfort. You might think that such outright quality would cost an outrageous amount, but you’d be wrong. On the contrary, these top minimalist sneakers are quite affordable.
Givenchy – Urban Street
Looking for minimalist sneakers with a little extra flair? Iconic luxury brand Givenchy has something just for you. Dubbed Urban Street, the collection frequently employs distinguished prints or patterns in addition to leather construction, knot details, leather lining, and rubber soles. That said, if you want a straight-up all-white pair of minimalist sneakers, you’ll find them in the Urban Street collection as well. What’s most important is that you have enough money to afford Givenchy kicks in the first place.
Vans – Classic Slip-On Skate Shoes
Vans is a classic skate brand and here they deliver Classic Slip-On Skate Shoes. Each pair combines a canvas upper with a rubber sole, and offers the kind of low profile that the brand has banked its reputation on. Opt for the sleek black colourway, or say good riddance to all this minimalist philosophy and get chequered out instead. Either way you’re rocking some timeless street style.
Converse – Jack Purcell
Speaking of timeless street style, meet the Jack Purcell sneaker from Converse. Between the vintage aesthetic and monochromatic colour scheme, this casual-but-savvy silhouette is basically minimalist by default. But don’t let us convince you to buy a pair. After all, you’re either a Converse man or you’re not.
Von-Röutte – Lyon
Australia’s own Von-Röutte infuses timeless style with an urban twist, and the Lyon duly abides. Handmade in Portugal, the trusty low-top includes a premium upper of leather and suede, with an embossed logo tastefully splashed across the side. Also featured are a cushioned footbed, cotton laces, leather lining, and a glued sole. This top minimalist sneaker is designed by Aussies, for Aussies. Wear it.
Armando Cabral – Broome
Armando Cabral is his name and minimalist fashion is his game. With the Broome, the acclaimed designer (and Portuguese model) takes on the classic low-top by way of striking colour, a polished finish, and quality leather. Every pair is made by Italian artisans, with the fine stitching and premium fit to show for it.