On the heels of last season’s curated selection of American-made boots, our men’s shoe team has decided to one-up themselves with a tightly edited showcase of rare sneakers from legendary as well as up-and-coming brands. We’re calling it The Sneaker Project—and from retro runners to luxe leather trainers, we’re confident it offers shoes to knock the socks off even the most discriminating fan of the game.
Keep reading for a closer look at six of our favorite brands—plus a chance to see them in action.
1. Nike. Named for the Greek goddess of victory, and with origins on an Oregon track coach’s waffle iron, Nike has outfitted athletes from Prefontaine to Jordan. Building upon the revolutionary Air-Sole unit of the late 1970s, the ‘Air Max’ was the first shoe with a visible window into its air-cushioned heel—allowing wearers to not only feel its comfortable ride, but see it.
[Shop: Nike 'Air Max 90 Essential' Sneaker | All Nike]
2. Del Toro. This Miami-based brand’s shoes are handmade on the Adriatic Coast of Italy, using only the finest leathers, suedes, velvets—and in this case, natural raffia, a fiber made from palm trees native to tropical Africa and Madagascar. This is, perhaps, the most summer-ready sneaker to ever walk the face of the earth.
[Shop: Del Toro '312 Alto' Chukka | All Del Toro]
3. Thorocraft. Classic silhouettes. Modern technology. Rebellious style. A trifecta of form and function defines this California footwear brand, whose signature heel rivet—affixed only upon thorough inspection of each handcrafted shoe—serves as a seal of approval and mark of quality. Last season’s all-black version of the ‘Porter’ sold out on Thorocraft’s website. Grab this one while you still can.
[Shop: Thorocraft 'Porter' Sneaker | All Thorocraft]
4. Filling Pieces. Founded in 2009 in Amsterdam, Filling Pieces aims, as the name insinuates, to occupy the divide between haute couture and street style. Sport-inspired shapes and top-shelf materials assembled in Portugal have these shoes filling gaps in dedicated sneaker fans’ closets. And this particular pair makes a strong case that red-on-red is the new black-on-black.
[Shop: Filling Pieces 'Desert' Chukka Sneaker | All Filling Pieces]
5. Gourmet. Self-described as “high-end for the regular guy,” Gourmet’s easy-to-wear low-top in Italian leather has no trouble backing up both sides of that claim. The intricate texture you see is called ‘cactus leather’—and unlike the prickly pear in your terrarium, this specimen will have admirers asking to touch it.
[Shop: Gourmet 'Rossi Cactus' Sneaker | All Gourmet]
6. Asics. With roots reaching back to 1949 Japan, ASICS headed stateside in the 1970s. A frontrunner in fitness culture, ASICS stands for the Latin phrase “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano”—a sound mind in a sound body. Even if you never take these for a jog, your subconscious can rest easy knowing that your shoes’ tongues will never slip to the side, thanks to a unique split-tongue construction.
[Shop: Asics 'GEL-Lyte III' Sneaker | All Asics]
Shop our buyers’ full curated collection:
THE SNEAKER PROJECT