White trainers: the bread and butter of the casual footwear world. From the sweltering heights of summer to the coldest depths of winter, these colourless kicks provide a blank canvas upon which to craft all manner of looks.
They’re the backbone of your off-duty footwear rotation; a shoe-rack staple up there with the likes of the Derby shoe and a quality pair of leather boots.
If you don’t already own a pair, you should, and to help you pick the right ones, we rounded up some of the best options out there.
In order to bring you the perfect selection, we aimed to include a mixture of all-time classics and current favourites in a range of shapes and styles to suit every taste.
We wore each pair extensively and only included what we felt were the most comfortable, versatile and timeless options. If they didn’t slot seamlessly into our casual wardrobe, they didn’t make the cut. It’s as simple as that.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Novesta star master
Novesta is a Slovakian footwear brand that makes some of the finest no-frills plimsolls and retro running shoes around. The star master is Novesta’s most popular style and is a common sight on the shelves of some of the coolest stores in the UK, as well as on the feet of some of menswear’s biggest tastemakers.
Apart from the fact that they seem to look better with every wear, what we love most about the star master is that it’s a relatively inexpensive way to delve into a strain of contemporary menswear where things can get pretty pricey. Put it this way: there aren’t many pairs of trainers you can pick up in the likes of Oi Polloi or End for less than fifty quid, but this is one of them. Oh, and they’re vegan too, bonus!
Adidas stan smith
A minimalist, white-leather trainer is an absolute must in anyone’s footwear rotation and this one from Adidas may just be the greatest of all time. The Sstan Smith has been around since the Sixties and remains one of the most significant footwear designs of all time. It’s unapologetically simple and stripped back, the only real detail being three perforated stripes and subtle branding to the tongue and the heel.
This paired back styling has made the Stan Smith immune to ageing and impervious to trends. Plus it’s super comfy and looks great with pretty much anything short of a three-piece suit.
Common Projects achilles low
If the Adidas Stan Smith is the ultimate minimalist trainer then consider the achilles low from Common Projects the deluxe edition. When it launched in 2004, this simple, beautifully constructed piece of footwear stomped all over the style rulebook with its soft calfskin uppers and premium, Italian-made rubber soles. It repositioned the humble trainer as something that could, in fact, be smart; something that could legitimately be worn with tailoring as opposed to just with jeans or gym gear. Almost 20 years on, it remains the original premium white-leather trainer, making it the obvious choice for anyone in search of the very best.
Converse chuck 70 classic high top
More commonly known as the “Chuck Taylor”, Converse’s all star is a shoe that should need no introduction. It’s been around since 1917, remaining largely unchanged, and is still one of the most popular trainers in the world today. This version is a retro spin on the classic, featuring double-layered canvas uppers, a slightly higher rubber rand and a springy foam insole that makes it considerably more comfortable than its no-frills sibling.
We love the look of this shoe and struggled to find anything it didn’t pair with. From soft tailoring and an overcoat in the winter months to shorts and a Cuban-collar shirt in the summer, this is about as versatile as footwear gets.
New Balance 998
No list of trainers, white or otherwise, would be complete without a mention of New Balance. The Bostonian footwear brand is behind some of the most recognisable lifestyle trainers ever made and it’s “made in UK/USA” line is home to the cream of the crop.
There are plenty of all-white options to be had – the brand’s ever-popular and ultra-hip 991, for example, is available in a whiteout colourway – but we loved this pastel-infused take on the 998 silhouette which uses subtle tan and pale-grey accents to add a barely-there splash of colour to an otherwise white canvas. Perfect for BBQ season, just don’t spill any ketchup on the soft suede uppers.
Nike blazer mid ‘77 QS
Nike’s retro blazer is enjoying something of a resurgence at the moment, which is absolutely fine by us. We love the clean, simple looks of this white leather high-top and the striking contrast created by the big, bold swoosh to the side. It somehow manages to be understated and attention-grabbing all at the same time and works a treat with any casual outfit you could care to imagine.
Having said that, we feel it’s most at home with a pair of cuffed, straight-leg trousers and a loose-fitting tee or slouchy sweater in the winter, or shorts, long white socks and a boxy Cuban-collar shirt come summertime.
Salomon XT-6 advanced
If someone had told us 10 years ago that trail-running shoes, wraparound shades and camping gear would soon be à la mode, we’d have told them to lay off the Kendal mint cake. And yet here we are. The Salomon XT-6 represents a shift in the way outdoor brands are marketing themselves – it’s a shoe designed with functionality at the fore, but with more than a little emphasis on style.
As a result, its dedicated disciples span everyone from ultramarathon-running lunatics to Fashion Week front-row regulars, and now us too. We’re big fans of the sporty shape, aggressive tread and quick-lacing system, and it’s actually surprising how versatile such a technical-looking shoe can be.
Veja V-10 faux leather trainers
Sustainable footwear is growing in popularity every year, but French brand Veja was ahead of the curve when it first started selling its simple white trainers made from recycled materials. This particular pair is one of the label’s best-selling styles and has the added bonus of being vegan. Aside from their ethical and environmental credentials, we loved the simple, clean looks and the fact that they blend well with almost any outfit.
Nike air force 1
The air force 1 is one of Nike’s oldest basketball shoes. It paved the way for many of the brand’s biggest and most-loved designs and its popularity only seems to grow as time goes on. It’s a fairly chunky trainer with a thick sole and a perforated toe box. It’s a timeless style and we think it’s a great option for anyone looking for a plain, versatile trainer that isn’t too minimalist. Comfort-wise, it can’t be faulted and we can’t see it ever going out of style.
The verdict: Men’s white trainers
Novesta’s star master is the clear winner for us. It’s affordable, hip, timeless and the sort of shoe that looks better the older and more battered it eventually becomes. Take our money.
For more some more sophisticates men’s footwear picks check out our round up of the 8 best loafers for men perfect for every occasion
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