How to combine the two strongest shoe trends in recent years, with traditionally constructed quality shoes on one side and casual sneakers on the other? Of course, by making sneakers made of higher quality and, in many cases, mixing methods from traditional footwear manufacturing.
The area of ”quality sneakers” was started by Common Projects and their still hugely popular Achilles model, which saw the light of day back in 2004. It is also kind of the base designwise for most of the models launched by specific sneaker brands, fashion companies and classic shoe brands. To summarise it it’s sort of minimalistic, low sneakers in full grain leather or suede, usually fully leather lined, with a structure in which the upper lining is stitched to a so-called Margom sole (actually a specific manufacturer, but similar to Dainite, all versions of this sole has come to be called after the well-known “original”). A kind of integral insole covers the bottom of the rubber sole, and on top of it you have an inner sole that is usually in some form of foam rubber material with leather top.
The quality of Common Projects and the vast majority of similar types of sneakers is quite alright. But extra interesting in my eyes are the manufacturers who took it another step up in construction. Usually, these shoes have toe and also heel stiffeners in plastic or celastic (plastic impregnated fabric) that are not particularly conformable to the wearers foot, and the insoles are made of a cardboard material that often is the first thing that gets damaged on the shoe due to moisture and wear. Nowadays, there are brands that choose more quality-conscious choices here, like J. FitzPatrick’s newly launched models, all of which have heel stiffeners in leather board (leather waist mixed with glue and compressed) that shape better after the foot. Or like Sweyd who has full leather insoles.
In recent years, we have also seen more and more variants using traditional construction methods combined with the sneakers look and a lightweight trainer sole. Here you usually make a Goodyear welted construction according to the rule book until you put on a thin leather sole, and on top of it, you glue the sneaker sole. This can then easily be exchanged without interfering with the internal parts of the shoe, just as usual for welted shoes. These types of “fusion” shoes I think will become more common as society becomes more and more casual in general, while interest in high quality and sustainability has increased.