Step into coolest sneakers sprinting your way in 2019
While 2018 was the year of the trainer, Katie Wright highlights some of the trendiest brands to look out for in the months ahead
Last year, sports shoes went from being something you wore to exercise to something you wore, well, everywhere. High end designers jumped on the bandwagon in a big way, with Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Balenciaga and more, heralding the return of 'dad sneakers' - clunky, chunky designs that influencers and street style stars couldn't get enough of.
The big sportswear brands shipped millions of shoes too as 'lifestyle trainers' became a thing and women ditched heels in favour of fitness footwear. It's hard to deny the appeal of trainers (they're comfy, cool and hard-wearing), but with brands frequently copying each other, there's not a lot of originality where mainstream names are involved.
"It's harder than ever to have a unique pair of trainers in your wardrobe, especially if you stick to the bigger, better-known brands," says George Sullivan, trainer expert and CEO at The Sole Supplier. "Less-known brands can be a breath of fresh air," he notes, because compared with big name brands, they're focused on heritage and perfecting their core designs. "This means the end product will usually be something truly unique."
So rather than following the herd and grabbing the next pair of Nikes you see on Instagram, why not think outside the shoe box and opt for an up and coming label instead? "There's no better time to buy into alternative trainer brands," Sullivan says. "Remember, you could be buying into the next big thing, which not everyone else is wearing on your local high street... yet."
Want to get ahead of the curve? Here are five international footwear brands tipped for greatness in 2019...
1. Karhu (karhu.com)
Hailing from Finland, running shoe specialist Karhu was founded in 1916 and is known for its 'fulcrum technology' which helps reduce bounce and makes running more efficient. That chunky fulcrum sole and bright colourways mean these trainers are bang on trend.
- Karhu Aria 'Winter Pack', Peyote/June Bug, £105
2. Allbirds (allbirds.co.uk)
Claiming to be the world's most comfortable shoes, Allbirds are made from merino wool and other sustainable materials, including tree-derived Lyocell and recycled plastic bottles (the laces).
Eschewing trendy designs in favour of a minimalist silhouette that comes in a variety of colour combinations, the California-based label has been a big hit in the US and is growing over here.
- Allbirds women's wool runners tuke French fry, £95
3. Mizuno (mizuno.eu)
Founded in 1906, Mizuno has been a steady supplier of all things sports related for decades, but its trainers have always had a very 1980s and 1990s vibe about them, meaning they're ripe for a resurgence, given the fashion world has gone crazy for all things Nineties of late.
The Japanese brand's heritage really comes through in its SS19 collection, which has just landed, with flashes of neon and multi-layered soles.
- Mizuno women's Wave Inspire 15 shoes, £125, Pro:Direct Running
4. Filling Pieces (fillingpieces.com)
Amsterdam-based label Filling Pieces is the brainchild of Guillaume Philibert, who wanted to create shoes that fused streetwear with premium quality materials.
He started with the minimalist Low Top trainers in 2009 and has now expanded to a range of trend-led styles.
- Filling Pieces nappa black, £171
5. Eytys (eytys.com)
There's nothing minimal about any of the shoes from Eytys, which was founded in Stockholm and opened a London store earlier this year. The fashion-forward brand specialises in unisex trainers and boots with uber-chunky soles that are popular with Scandi and Japanese cool kids.
- Eytys jet turbo white, £250