When I was tasked with unearthing the trainer trends that are taking over in 2023, I was excited. Excited because I didn't know what I would find. Although I'm very much a shoe person, trainers wouldn't be my specialist subject in University Challenge. Of course, I own and love to wear several pairs of trainers, but I would never say they're particularly trend-led. Moreover, they're trainer styles I've worn since my teenage years; classic kicks that work with my aesthetic as opposed to defining it. Still, I believe I can work this to my advantage. When it came to discerning the most important trainer trends of 2023, I knew I could do so without bias. Instead of already having an idea of what these trends would be and what they'd look like, I was completely open and eager to see which sneaker trends would come through as the most prevalent organically. So I hunkered down for what I knew would be a good few hours of research.
Spanning the runways to street style, Instagram to sales stats, I left no sneaker stone unturned. As so often happens, I got a little carried away, and eight hours later, I had found eight trainer trends I believed would set the footwear tone for the year ahead. Taking my findings to some experts on the subject for confirmation, I've detailed the need-to-know trainers for the season ahead below. Some are specific styles, some are movements, and others are general aesthetics. However, if you're the trainer obsessive I suspect you are, you'll want to make room in your wardrobe for all of them. Sorry about that.
Style Notes: If there's one trainer I know will be big news next year and that will inform more sneaker trends, it's the Adidas Samba. Having been worn by It girls such as Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski in the latter part of last year, the retro, football-inspired kick is influencing the trainer scene in a major way. Right now, it seems to feature in every cool outfit I save down on IG. Following closely in the footsteps of the Adidas Gazelle—a style Gucci has created a high-end capsule of—the three stripes, rounded toe and tan rubberised sole are hallmarks to hone in on. Having said that, Loewe's take on '70s-style sneakers was a hit during fashion month, so take your pick. Either way, they work so well with the preppy aesthetic that's currently showing no signs of waning.
2. Need-to-Know Nikes
Style Notes: I work remotely, so when I do venture to London for work, it's the fashion equivalent of a child entering a sweet shop. And if there's one thing the city's inhabitants deliver on every time I come to town, it's trends. I can quite happily sit myself down on a bench for an afternoon and just take in the 'fits as they stroll by. On my most recent visit, however, it was while I was on the tube that I came across a trend that was impossible to ignore: Nike trainers. Out of the 15 people in my eye line, most of whom were fashion-conscious, I'd say nine were wearing plain white Air Force trainers. Coincidence? There's no such thing. Now, is this the most directional trainer trend on my list for 2023? Probably not. But is it the most versatile and broadly appealing, making it worthy of the second spot? Absolutely. Confirming my theory is Titi Finlay, the social media manager for Laced, a leading resale site specialising in trainers, who says, "The one sneaker that never goes out of style is the classic white Air Force 1. It goes with every style and every outfit. Everyone needs a pair in their wardrobe." I, and Instagram's finest, couldn't agree more. Following on from its recent popularity, even more Nike trainers are coming through this season; from the Vomero 5 to the TN Air Max, there's no shortage of in-demand Nikes for 2023.
3. Spotlight on Sustainability
Photo:Courtesy of Cecilie Bahnsen
Style Notes: Like the rest of the fashion industry, designers are looking for new and innovative ways to make their pieces more sustainable. Vegan trainers aren't new or a novelty, but they're certainly becoming more commonplace as we reach 2023. Take a look at Cecilie Bahnsen's S/S 23 runway, where many of the dresses were styled with trainers. “We’ve always been styling the looks with trainers. That type of comfort speaks to the brand,” Bahnsen tells Footwear News. In the same interview, Bahnsen explains how she partnered with Asics to design a series of sneakers that were both on-brand and sustainable. Using past-season and dead-stock fabrics, Bahnsen created a capsule of 10 "one-of-a-kind trainers," making a case for reusing and upcycling in the process. This, of course, is just one way in which trainers trends can be more sustainable. From utilising innovative fabrications such as mushroom and grape leather to finding ways to lessen the environmental impact of the manufacturing process, we can't wait to see the advances there will be in footwear by the time we come to write our 2024 trainer trends report.
4. Take a Hike
Style Notes: Sporty trainers are ever evolving. First, they came in the form of running shoes—think Asics, and you're on the right track. Next, they evolved into '80s-style basketball kicks, not all that dissimilar to the New Balance 550s mentioned above. Now, however, perhaps it's the time of year that we find ourselves in, but hiking trainers are now all the rage. Rebecca Rhys-Evans is a trainer expert who just so happens to be Who What Wear UK's branded content editor. She says, "The hiking aesthetic is the next big 'dad' trainer trend, with brands like Salomon becoming more popular by the minute. I'm also seeing a lot of the Nike CdG Air Mada, which I think will be like gold dust by the time we settle into the second half of 2023." You have been warned.
5. Something About Silver
Style Notes: The silver trainer trend continues to captivate fashion enthusiasts with its undeniable allure. Brands like Asics have embraced this futuristic trend, offering sleek metallic options that effortlessly elevate any ensemble. Notably, Adidas's Wales Bonner collaboration fuses nostalgia with modernity, creating something style types find impossible resist in the process. Silver trainers are not only eye-catching but also incredibly versatile, which may surprise you. Whether paired with athleisure outfits for a sporty-chic vibe or dressed up with tailored pieces for a high-end finish, the silver trainer trend adds an unpredictable twist to any outfit.
6. Celeb It Kicks: Chloé Nama
Photo:Courtesy of Chloé; Getty Images
Style Notes: As someone who spends a lot of their time on Instagram and TikTok, I was keen to see which trainer trends and styles were standing out to our social media editor and self-confessed trainer obsessive, Joy Ejaria. "That's easy: the Chloé Nama," says Ejaria. "Katie Holmes has barely taken them off her feet this season, and I just saw Lucy Boynton wear them during Paris Fashion Week." The brand might be known for its bags, but Creative Director Gabriella Hearst has given the trainers the same attention to detail. They feature ornate blanket stitching used in a blend of beautiful colours, and we'd expect nothing less from sneakers born from an iconic French fashion house.
7. Back to the Future
Photo:Getty Images; @aude_julie
Style Notes: Perhaps it's the influence of the Metaverse, but fashion is becoming more futuristic by the minute. You just need to look at all the space-age silver that filled both the A/W and S/S runways, and you can tell the new collections are lightyears ahead. However, one of the easiest ways to adopt any new trend is by way of shoes—or, in this instance, trainers. From technical compositions to architectural silhouettes, all in a colour palette of neutrals with flashes of control-panel neon, set against a backdrop of mesh and neoprene, trainers made for the modern age are highly prevalent right now.
8. Still Going Strong: New Balance
Style Notes: I think we can all agree that the trainer brand that has ruled for the past few seasons is New Balance. However, as we look forward elsewhere, it's clear there's a particular NB that's still being coveted—the 550. Initially released in 1989, the 550 was designed as a basketball shoe but seemed to fade into the background while the flashy Air Jordans dominated. Thirty years later, it was reinstated to the New Balance offering and, having had three years to percolate into our consciousness, it's now all the rage. The fact that it's a cross between retro and sporty trainer aesthetics is undoubtedly a big part of why it's proving so popular right now. The chunkier style in a hardwearing leather finish makes it the ideal trainer style for unpredictable British weather, so you can expect to see a lot of the 550 as we head into the colder, wetter months.