The sneaker game can seem hard to break up. On one hand is the mass-market dominance of traditional sportswear giants such as Nike, adidas and PUMA, all of which comfortably outsell their rivals. On the other hand is high-fashion brands including Balenciaga and Prada, which have taken over street style with their sneaker designs. Between these two sides — the commercial giants and the street style favorites — there is still space for newcomers. From Stockholm to New York, up-and-coming brands are taking on the footwear orthodoxy. We’ve pulled together a list of some of the best emerging sneaker brands poised to make a big impression in the future.
Founded in 2012 by Max Schiller and Jonathan Hirschfield, Swedish label Eytys has expanded massively over the past five years. The brand initially began with just one canvas silhouette — the Mother, known for its minimal upper and chunky sole — and have now grown substantially to include a full footwear collection, ready-to-wear denim and apparel and flagship stores in Stockholm and London. The key silhouettes to watch out for are the Angel — already a Fashion Week Staple across Europe — and the newly-released Jet Turbo.
Stockists: SSENSE, Opening Ceremony, MATCHESFASHION.com
Not much is known about Italian label ROA — including who founded it or when — but the brand has an affiliation with Slam Jam and has collaborated with 1017 ALYX 9SM on multiple occasions. The footwear is designed for “mountain enthusiasts” and incorporates high functioning technical elements. Every model is produced from Kudu skin — chosen for its thickness, softness and water repellency — and features a Vibram Sole and the same fibre as bulletproof vests. This focus on performance materials is complemented by the aesthetic sensibilities and colorways that vary from core black and white to pastel yellow with pink highlights.
Stockists: Slam Jam Socialism, Browns, Tres Bien
Stepney Workers Club
London-based Stepney Workers Club launched its first collection in March and takes inspiration from traditional Workers Sports Clubs, referenced through its “Freedom of Sport, Freedom of Thought” slogan and handshake logo. The label initially launched two silhouettes, the high-top Varden and low-top Dellow, which come with either canvas or suede uppers. The understated silhouettes are all updated versions of vulcanized classics, and come in everything from sutle pastel tones to monochromatic newspaper print.
Stockists: Goodhood, /Other Shop, United Arrows & Sons
Similarly to ROA, US-based label FRONTEER also designs silhouettes for the great outdoors. Founded by Jon Tang — who has previously worked with PUMA, K-Swiss and KITH — the brand currently focuses on two silhouettes. The Ranger, which comes in high or low, is a mix of sneaker and combat boot designed for Park Rangers, while the Geotrekker is an update of a popular 1980s shoe. Since FRONTEER was founded, the label has released seven issues including capsules inspired by Yosemite and “Dawn and Dusk” as well as collaborations with MANASTASH and Topo Designs.
Stockists: KITH, Dover Street Market New York, Kinfolk
Parisian label both was founded to explored the different ways that rubber could be used on sneakers. The different properties of the material were further expanded on for Fall/Winter 2018 which is influenced by the clash between industrial and artisanal. As well as the label’s standard boots and high-top sneakers, Fall/Winter 2018 also includes a running-inspired silhouette. The new silhouette features a technical mesh fabric and a chunky sole made from PVA foam and strips of rubber. The collection also features a number of innovative design effects — such as neo-camouflage, sandpaper textures and a tiny mesh print motif — achieved by manipulating the rubber.
Stockists: Antonioli, Smets, Dover Street Market New York